Michael Schur, a writer on The Office and Parks and Recreation has put some very subtle jokes about names into his work on these shows. I learned about Schur from Mindy Kaling and Amy Pohler’s autobiographies.
From The Believer:
I love crazy names. It comes right from Monty Python and Woody Allen—nothing in the world makes me giggle more than a funny name. It became a thing I started doing when I wrote. If a person came into a store and said, “How much is this apple?” that person would have an insane name. When I was writing on The Office, I wrote a character who literally didn’t have a line, but I made her name Gwendolyn Trundlebed. When I got to set to shoot the scene, I found out that the production team had run with it. They read her name and did their job—they imagined, What is the office of a woman whose name is Gwendolyn Trundlebed? The whole thing was pink, with unicorns everywhere. It looked like a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory set or something. I had to say, “Oh no, I’m really sorry. This is just a normal human woman, and she is named Gwendolyn Trundlebed because that’s a combination of two words that make me laugh.”
From Variety: “I have this belief that most people you meet in life aren’t named Bill Smith,” Schur says. “From early on I thought, ‘Part of what’s going to make (the city of Pawnee) feel real is if people have weird names.’”
Over the years some of the silliest and strangest “Parks” names weren’t even heard on the show.
“There’s a whole family, the Lerpiss family,” Schur explains with delight. “You’ve never heard the name Lerpiss on the show, but there’s probably ten or twelve characters who have had the last name. It doesn’t play into any episode and there’s no plot that relates to it.
“If you look up Lerpiss on IMDb, we wrote character descriptions for them and how they’re related to each other. A lot of businesses in town are like the Lerpiss Moving Company or the Lerpiss Mortuary. There’s a whole other show about this very dynastic but also completely powerless family in Pawnee.”
- Judy Zappossoppazzappossopaz
Schur: “Originally it was Judy Zappos, and I was like ‘You’re gonna have to clear that.’ So I wrote Zappos backwards and it was Judy Zappossoppaz. Then I liked Zappossoppaz so much that I added that whole thing and it became Judy Zappossoppazzappossopaz.”
- Officer Randy Killnose
- Mona-Lisa Saperstein
- Trodd Frankensteip
Schur: “He comes back (in the final season).”
- Tyrion Fonzarelli
- Toni Toné Strunkfuster
- Gretzky-Susan Pelligrino
Schur: “I love hyphenates … and a lot of ‘k’ sounds.”
- Typhoon Montalban
- Ssassandra Ssassnorp
- Summer Olé-Kracken Frogfrong
Schur: “Probably my favorite. It comes right from Monty Python. We also created the opposit