Dear Bruce, Are Bert and Ernie Names to Avoid?

Q. How about Bert and Ernie? My mother in law’s maiden name is Bertram and I wanted give that name to my son, but my husband protested, worried about Bert and Ernie jokes. Too bad, it’s a strong masculine name.

A. You’re right. Bertram is a solid name. Practically everyone will call him Bert. And the first thing that comes to mind when most people hear Bert is Ernie. So, it’s a perfect example of a famous comedy duo turning Bert into a joke rather than a good name for a “regular guy.”

What caused me to turn the Bert & Ernie comment into a Dear Bruce column is: it struck me that there are other paired comedy names that might also be awkward to use as names–because people will think of the second name as soon as they hear the first one. To avoid the obvious jokes that might follow, it’s easier to avoid the first name in these comedy pairs: Amos & Andy, Pat & Mike, Bob & Ray, Tom & Jerry, Izzy & Abie, Ole & Lena, Lucy & Desi, Sunny & Cher.

But if you reverse the order and name your first child Andy, that may relieve some of the “pair pressure.”  Amos may not come to mind (not only because this comedy duo was popular in the middle of the 20th century; but because Andy came first. Although Amos strongly reminds people of Andy–Andy doesn’t as strongly remind people of Amos. Come to think of it, I’ve never met or heard of siblings with comedy-duo  names. Probably, because most parents sense the twosome would be a bad joke waiting to happen.

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