The winner of the contest from last week’s blog was my sister-in-law, Carrie Gundling. She and my brother are both big Saturday Night Live fans, so that is the focus she chose for this week’s blog. I learned a lot of interesting facts doing research for this name topic. For example, I had no idea Robert Downey Jr. was ever a cast member of SNL. More shocking, I had no idea that Steve Martin was not ever an actual cast member of the show. So, I really enjoyed learning lots of new things about SNL thanks to Carrie’s pick for this week’s namefest.
Saturday Night Live has produced some of the greatest comedians of our time. Unfortunately, a lot of my own favorite SNL cast members all have really boring names, even their middle names: Bill Murray. Eddie Murphy. Billy Crystal. Phil Hartman, Chris Farley. Etc. And even the character names of the earlier cast members are generally either very commonplace or too bizarre to be baby names, even for my tastes. But there are also many cast members I like or learned about through research for this blog that have amazing, unique names. And while today’s blog focuses on baby names inspired by cast members’ actual names, look out for a future SNL edition that will take a look at some baby names based on SNL character names and skit titles.
And now, without further ado…live from Urbana, Illinois, it’s my favorite SNL baby names!
Up-front confession: I have never seen Blues Brothers, and I am honestly not sure that I’ve ever seen anything with John Belushi in it, on SNL or otherwise. (I know—I need to rectify that!) But I have only heard amazing things about him, and even though I feel like I shouldn’t love the sound of this name, I kinda do. So, if you suspect your child might be on “a mission from God,” you love jazz, or you’re just a huge John Belushi fan, then Belushi (pronounced Buh-loo-she) could be just the ticket for your son. Also, the surname Belushi is Italian in origin, and Belushis were historically nobility, knights, politicians, or military captains, so this name could also be appropriate if you hope your little one will be a leader, whether regal or tough (or both). Possible nicknames: Baloo, Bello, or Lu.
Perhaps known best for her airhead sorority girl character Pam in SNL’s Delta Delta Delta skits, Beth Cahill is a master of the overly-exaggerated character. But the name Cahill (pronounced Kay-hill), while unique, is actually fairly understated. Nevertheless, this name option would be good for parents who want a little boy with lots of energy and pizazz. The surname name Cahill is Gaelic in origin, and Cahills were traditionally leaders or martyrs (or both), so this name could work well for those who want to foster leadership qualities or piousness in their children. Nicknames: Cay, Kai, Ahi, or Hill.
What I really love about Danitra Vance is how she took many of her own trying life experiences and used them to create hilarious characters that somehow both exemplified and challenged stereotypes about marginalized groups in American society (including African-Americans, women, and teen mothers). For more on Vance’s remarkable but unfortunately short life, check out this article. With the context of Vance’s talents on SNL and her life overall in mind, I think Danitra (Duh-nee-truh) would be a great name choice for those who hope their daughter will be funny, resilient, and socially conscious. Danitra also (may) mean “little princess.” Possible nicknames: Dunn, Dani, Anita, or Nitra.
Before I talk about Finesse Mitchell’s work on SNL, I just want to take a second to revel in the glory of this guy’s full name: Alfred Langston Finesse Mitchell. I actually wanted to include both Langston and Finesse in this list, but I was delighted to find that the name Langston has finally been getting its well-deserved due, having debuted in the U.S. top 1,000 in 2013 and holding strong ever since. On SNL, Mitchell impressed viewers with his many and varied impersonations of movie stars and sports icons, including Morgan Freeman, Venus Williams, and Ron Artest (now Metta World Peace—also a very unique name!). Moreover, Mitchell is one of the few actors on SNL that I haven’t seen fumble a line or accidentally crack up during a skit (Jimmy Fallon, anyone?), so the name Finesse definitely suits him. The word-based name Finesse comes from Old French via Latin and means subtle, sophisticated, delicate, etc. I think Finesse (pronounced Fuh-ness or Fin-ess) would be a great boys’ or girls’ name, with possible nicknames Finn, Ina, Essie, or Essa.
In my opinion, Maya (Khabira) Rudolph is highly underrated. Because she isn’t an attention grubber who constantly needs to be in the spotlight, Rudolph is more often a minor player included in ensemble skits. But that doesn’t stop her from bringing her comedic chops to bear on pretty much everything she does on SNL. Likewise, Khabira (pronounced Kuh-u-beer-a-u or Kuh-beer-uh) is a beautiful and distinctive name option if you want your little girl to be a team player with a spirit of humility (despite how awesome she no doubt will be). Khabira is an alternate spelling of the Arabic name Khabirah, which means expert or experienced, which is also a great description for Rudolph’s comedic prowess and would be a great meaning for any baby’s name. Possible nicknames: Kha, Khabi, Abbi, Abby, or Bira.
Like Finesse Mitchell, Kate McKinnon is a versatile comedian who has impersonated numerous people, typically politicians and celebrities. So, if you are hoping for a funny little chameleon who can adapt in many different situations, McKinnon (pronounced Mih-kin-in) might be the right name for your (girl or boy) child. The surname McKinnon is Scottish for fair born, fair son, or love. Possible nicknames: Mac, Mick, Mickey, Kai, Kin, Kindra, Ken, Kenna, Kendra, or Kenny.
Until I did research for this blog, I had no idea that Ben Stiller had ever been a cast member of SNL nor that the Zoolander character was originally from SNL. How did all this slip past me, especially since I (unlike many haters) am a Ben Stiller fan? At any rate, Stiller’s full name is Benjamin Edward Meara Stiller. Meara (pronounced Meer-uh, like Mira), though typically a girls’ name, is incorporated into Stiller’s full name because it is his mother’s surname. Meara is an Irish name meaning pool or lake or sea and is a fun alternative to Mira or Myra. This name could therefore be a great option for anyone who has a Pisces girl who they hope will be a little goofball. Possible nicknames: Mae, Era, Aura, Ara, or Ari.
I had not even heard of Morwenna Banks before I started doing research for this blog. It turns out Banks was only a cast member of SNL for four episodes, so her corpus of work from that show is obviously minimal. But those of you who are already parents likely know Banks in one of her more famous voice acting roles as Mummy Pig (and Madame Gazelle and Dr. Hamster) on Peppa Pig. I love the name Morwenna (pronounced either More-wee-nuh or More-when-uh) as a similar but less common girls’ name option for those who like the name Rowena, which has become very popular because of Harry Potter. Morwenna is Welsh for maiden or sea wave. Possible nicknames: Mora, Maura, Auror, Aura, Orwe, Wenn, Wren, Wrenn, Wennie, or Wenna.
Novella is one of my all-time favorite girls’ names, so I can’t believe I never thought of the male version, Novello (pronounced No-vell-o) until I came across Don Novello’s name in the SNL cast list. Novello is best known for his character Father Guido Sarducci, a caricatured Italian priest who does not seem to be super pious nor good at his job. Novello is an Italian name taken from the Latin word for “new,” a meaning that applies well to any baby. But I also associate this name with the word novel, so this could be a good option for parents hoping for a little bookworm. Nicknames: Nova, Novel, Novell, Ovell, Vell, or Vello.
While he is probably most famous for his portrayal of former President Barack Obama, Jay Pharoah—perhaps even moreso than Finesse Mitchell and Kate McKinnon—is fantastic at impressions. From musicians to politicians to actors to sports stars to other comedians, there’s pretty much no one Pharoah can’t embody. And, completely off topic, but I’m just gonna throw it out there: Pharoah is also absolutely gorgeous. Pharaoh is Latin for ruler, so this is another great name for parents who want to instill leadership qualities in their little one. Apparently, Pharoah’s original last name was actually spelled Farrow, and I think either spelling (both pronounced Fair-oh) would make an excellent boys’ or girls’ name. Possible nicknames: Farah (girl), Arrow (boy) or Ro / Roe (boy or girl).
Randy Quaid is another SNL cast member I’m not really familiar with first-hand. But I checked out some of his characters and skits, and I actually really liked him as Vlad the Impaler. It takes a lot of talent to somewhat humanize and definitely humorize a historical leader who impaled thousands of people, but Quaid somehow pulls it off. Quaid is an Irish surname (reduced from McQuaid), and Quaids were traditionally laborers, farmers, and domestic workers. So, Quaid is a great name if you want a child who is a homebody, family person, or lover of the land. I really like Quaid (pronounced Kwade) as an alternative to similar, more popular single-syllable Q names like Quinn or Quint. And while Quaid might be thought of primarily as a boys’ name, I like this name for boys or girls. While Quaid is already pretty short, Quay or Quai could work if you’re dead-set on having a nickname.
Which of these names do you think should be the star of the show? Let me know in the comments.
Photo Credit: Paul Beavers