We’re deep in the middle of the 2020 presidential election but it’s March of 2019 and we should not be in the middle of an election that’s still nearly two years away. In an effort to restore some sanity to the earth, here’s a very nonsensical listicle. You’re… welcome?
There are currently fourteen candidates with campaigns or exploratory committees who we’ve profiled in the Who The Fuck Are All These Fucks? series, so we’re going to include them plus former vice president Joe Biden, who is probably going to announce a campaign later this month, and former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is going to announce a week from today.
In this article, we’re going to tackle the names of all sixteen of them and rank them from least- to most-silly. There’s some clues on what makes a name funny from Wikipedia’s article on inherently funny words, but this is mostly an article about subjective humor. Maybe you find “John Delaney” to be a hilarious name. I don’t.
This is not a ranking of candidates by, I dunno, actual credentials or substantive policy issues. If you want that you’ll have to bribe me for it.
16. John Delaney
Like pretty much everything else about John Delaney, his name is very safe middle-of-the-road unflavored oatmeal.
15. Joe Biden
No one gets excited about Joe Biden because of his fun name – that’s what Barack Obama was for. Biden was meant as the counterbalance to young, exuberant, exotic Obama: a stoic old man with a very blue collar Pennsylvania name. We might still think of him that way if it wasn’t for The Onion. And, admittedly, if we were all willing to refer to him as “Diamond Joe Biden” then I would move him to the top of this list in a heartbeat.
14. Elizabeth Warren
Elizabeth Warren is one of two currently-serving senators from Massachusetts but her name sounds like it could be from one of the earliest colonists or the wife of a Revolutionary War general or something.
13. Marianne Williamson
The length of this name makes it a little more interesting than the others in the “bland” category. It almost rhymes, which is admittedly more frustrating than fun, but the combination of four shorter words (mary – ann – william – son) is kind of enjoyable to say out loud. Marianne Williamson. Mary Ann William Son. Marianna, Will-I-Am’s on.
12. Cory Booker
“Booker? I hardly know ‘er!” Cory Booker hoots, hoping to appear interesting.
11. Julian Castro
Pronouncing it like “hoolian” makes this name more fun. All Spanish-language names ju names are more fun when you pronounce them like this. Nobody says “Juan” like John, why do we insist on saying “Juul-ian” like he’s a resident of the Republic of Sweet Vapes?
10. Kirsten Gillibrand
You can’t really imagine a spy turning to the camera and identifying themselves as “Kirsten Gillibrand” but it is a good name for a high-powered lady executive in an early 90s sitcom.
8/9. Andrew Gillum and Tulsi Gabbard (tie)
Andrew Gillum and Tulsi Gabbard have the same thing going for them. Hard G names are fun. Wikipedia suggests this is the result of Shannon entropy, where the less likely it is to encounter a combination of letters in English the more fun it is to say. Honestly, if I was going to create a fictional villainous law firm for a Saturday morning cartoon it might be Gillum & Gabbard.
7. Andrew Yang
The way the end of Andrew flows into the start of Yang makes this a pretty fun name to say out loud. It also has the same pleasing syllable breaks as Marianne Williamson, dividing pretty nicely into An/drew/Yang. For bonus pleasure, say it the tune of the NBC jingle or the Duracell sonic mark.
6. Kamala Harris
If you have to explain to people how your name is pronounced, you’re halfway to having a quality name. The hard “K” sound here is a bonus, too, and there’s something gently comical about the relatively rare name “Kamala” followed by the very common name “Harris”
5. Jay Inslee
The name “Jay” is so short and following it with the very unusual name “Inslee” has sort of the Reverse Kamala Harris Effect. Inslee’s double “e” sound is reminiscent of the “whee” sound I used to make when I went sledding as a kid and that’s a kind of wholesome fun I can get behind.
4. Bernie Sanders
Speaking of, uh, the “e” sound that is reminiscent of the “whee” sound I used to make when I went sledding as a kid, Bernie Sanders has made a political career on his first name, something not everybody can pull off. But “Bernie” is such a good name for a fun uncle or a grumpy-but-lovable grandpa so it works for him.
3. Amy Klobuchar
Hard “k”? Check. Unusual combination of letters? Check. Still sounds like it could be an unknown town in northern Minnesota? Triple check.
2. John Hickenlooper
Person 1: “Colorado has a governor who pretends he’s a cowboy and tries to connect to people with his faux folksy charm. What do you think his name is?”
Person 2: “Is it something extremely absurd? Like Ol’ Johnny Hickenlooper?”
Person 1: “It is exactly Ol’ Johnny Hickenlooper.”
1. Pete Buttigieg
Pete Buttigieg is a respectable politician who has worked tireless for the City of South Bend as its mayor, but his last name as the word “butt” in it and, pronounced properly, sounds like “booty judge.” I’m not saying we can’t elect President Booty Judge. I’m possibly saying we have to, legally, under the divine laws of comedy, elect President Booty Judge.