Origins of "Mister Happy"?

Posted by: tfabris

Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 08/02/2002 17:32

Today, Tod and I were talking about a Weird Al song ("Headline News", to be exact) where he uses the phrase "Mister Happy" to describe the male anatomy.

I have noticed that this phrase is in wide usage and is pretty much universally known among western English-speaking cultures.

I'm wondering if anyone knows for sure the origins of the phrase. I tried to make the point that its origin was from a famous stand-up comedy bit by Robin Williams during the '80's, and it fit pop culture so perfectly that it was repeated by everyone until now it's universally accepted. (Helped along by the fact that Robin continues to use the term these days.)

Tod disagreed, claiming that it was in wide usage before Robin did that bit.

A quick web search did not reveal any immediate answers, other than to confirm the fact that it has completely permeated pop culture.

Anyone?
Posted by: rob

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 08/02/2002 17:54

Umm.. either I've had a shielded life or it's not entirely universal. For me, Mr Happy brings up thoughts of a jolly yellow round chap with a great big grin. He can often be found hanging out with his friends including Mr Bump and Mr Tickle, getting up to all sorts of larks.

Hmm, maybe we are talking about the same thing after all!

Rob
Posted by: jimhogan

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 08/02/2002 18:12

For me, Mr Happy brings up thoughts of a jolly yellow round chap...

Yikes! Yellow???

(Maybe time to drop by the clinic for a quick check on your creatinine/bilirubin...)

Posted by: tfabris

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 08/02/2002 18:17

Then maybe I was wrong about it being universal. Perhaps it's a US-only thing.

Still... Did Robin coin the term or not?
Posted by: svferris

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 08/02/2002 18:21

Here is the Mr. Happy Rob was talking about...

They're from a series of childrens books.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 08/02/2002 18:30

What about Captain Winkie?
Posted by: beaker

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 08/02/2002 18:44

That goes for me too. I think this may only be popular on the other side of the pond.
Posted by: wfaulk

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 08/02/2002 19:05

Are those a British series? My aunt was always giving those to me when I was a kid and I thought they were great. Never could find any in the stores when I went looking, though.
Posted by: wfaulk

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 08/02/2002 19:12

I'll bet that Reinhold Aman could help you out. I've heard that he's responsive to queries, but I don't know that for a fact.
Posted by: number6

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 08/02/2002 19:47

The "Mr Men" series of kids books has been around for over 20 years.
they have been quite popular down under - not surprising given our past links to the UK.

I think there was a TV series [animated] for a while too.

I guess like Play School the Mr Men books is something you just get if you drive on the left hand side of the road...


Posted by: Fogduck

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 08/02/2002 22:19

> The "Mr Men" series of kids books has been around for
> over 20 years. they have been quite popular down under
> - not surprising given our past links to the UK.
> I guess like Play School the Mr Men books is something
> you just get if you drive on the left hand side of the road...

Hey, don't forget the OTHER commonwealth nation! CANADA! (which once had the distinction of being the only country that could order from both the International and US stores...heh)

The Mr Men series of books are/were pretty common over here as well.

We drive on the right-hand-side, usually.
Posted by: svferris

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 09/02/2002 14:21

Ahh, that would probably explain my knowledge of them. I grew up here in California...but my dad is Canadian.
Posted by: tfabris

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 09/02/2002 14:53

Thanks for that link. I've just mailed him. And I'm now also considering subscribing to Maledicta.
Posted by: jimhogan

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 09/02/2002 15:05

(which once had the distinction of being the only country that could order from both the International and US stores...heh)

Of course the first 7 units were inadverdently delivered to approximately 5842' N 6557' W where the mayor of Kangiqsualujjuaq continues to use them as bookends....!
Posted by: tfabris

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 09/02/2002 21:13

Cool. I just got his reply:

> Tod disagreed, claiming that it was in wide usage before Robin did that bit.

"I doubt that very much. The latest slang dictionary by Jonathon Green dates "Mister Happy" (=penis) to "1980+" -- the time of the Robin Williams performance, which I also happened to see (on video). Robin made it popular and perhaps coined it, also his "one-eyed trouser snake." Robin deserves full credit for its popularity.

The "Mister Happy" from the UK books is older, but it was Robin who publicly (TV, gigs) used that appellation for the first time to mean "penis" and spread its use. There *may* have been raunchy cartoons or porno books where the dick was called "Mister Happy," but they were not the source for its popularity in U.S. English and now worldwide."
Posted by: Tim

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 09/02/2002 23:25

I can tell you where I first heard the term. A couple of my friends went to school to be physical therapists. In gross anatomy (dissecting a human cadaver) their cadaver was, uhhhhh, excited. So they named him Mr. Happy. The cadaver, not the unit.

The sick SOBs wanted to find out why he was excited after the class was over, so they went to town with the scalpels to find out. Silicon implants. Personally, I thought that the scalpel thing was something you never do, discuss, or even think about, even with a cadaver.
Posted by: Dignan

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 10/02/2002 11:57

I don't know who you hang out with, but I almost never hear that term used. I have heard it, but very rarely. I've heard other slang terms far more than that one.

By the way, everyone here seems to be saying that the Mr Men books didn't exist in the US. Of course it did! I loved those books!
Posted by: tfabris

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 10/02/2002 12:03

I have heard it, but very rarely. I've heard other slang terms far more than that one.

I wasn't trying to say that it was more common than other slang terms. I meant that it was interesting because it's well known at all. In the US, if I say something like "Mister Happy hasn't had any action in two weeks", almost every US adult will know what I'm referring to. It's only interesting because it comes from a specifc stand-up comedy bit by a specific comic artist.

Can anyone think of any other pop culture terms/phrases that fall into the same category? Ones that can be traced directly back to a single utterance?
Posted by: Dignan

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 10/02/2002 12:17

Haha, true. Then again, to most males, a phrase like:

"___ hasn't seen any action in two weeks"

They'll understand no matter what word you replace with ___
Posted by: Heather

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 12/02/2002 21:44


Can anyone think of any other pop culture terms/phrases that fall into the same category? Ones that can be traced directly back to a single utterance?


15 minutes of fame springs to mind first. I'll probably think of a few more sometime, maybe I'll even get a chance to post them. This management thing kinda sucks, I liked being lower on the totem pole a bit more.
Posted by: wfaulk

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 12/02/2002 21:53

``Oh! The Humanity!''
``Not that there's anything wrong with that.''
Posted by: tonyc

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 12/02/2002 22:38

Just three off the very tippy top of my head (and from 3 different decades, no less!)

"Where's the Beef?"

"No soup for you!"

"Wuzzzzaaaaaaaaaaaaaaap!"
Posted by: tfabris

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 13/02/2002 12:26

Good examples, everyone.

I don't count "Wazuuuuuup" because that's going to last, at maximum, another six months.

"15 Minutes of Fame" (Andy Warhol) is a perfect example of what I'm talking about, thanks.

The "Oh the humanity" is of course, from the newscaster reporting on the Hindenburg disaster. But where does "Not that there's anything wrong with that" trace back to?
Posted by: wfaulk

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 13/02/2002 12:39

An episode of Seinfeld where Jerry and George get outed, despite the fact that they're not gay. They try to figure out a way to refute the charges while not appearing prejudiced against homosexuality. So every time one of them says some thing along the lines of ``We're not gay'', the other says ``not that there's anything wrong with that''.

Obviously, that's a phrase that had been used before for other random things, but its association with ``anti-homophobe not gay-ness'' stems completely from that episode of Seinfeld.
Posted by: genixia

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 13/02/2002 22:22

In celebration of Mssrs Bump, Tickle and Happy, I am pleased to provide a bmp of said gentlemen that can be logoised by logoedit.
Posted by: Dignan

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 13/02/2002 23:19

Can anyone think of any other pop culture terms/phrases that fall into the same category?

Actually, my roommate and I have been attempting to spread one ourselves. Does anyone here watch Batman Beyond? It seems that the writers have developed their own slang for the high schoolers in the show: "Schway"

They replace the word for "cool" wherever it would pop up. It's really wierd but now my roommate and I want to see it catch on
Posted by: tanstaafl.

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 14/02/2002 16:11

Can anyone think of any other pop culture terms/phrases that fall into the same category? Ones that can be traced directly back to a single utterance?

Well, sort of tangentially related...

What has to be the most memorably effective television commercial of all time... I can just about guarantee that after you read the magical first five words, you will be able to sing every word of the commercial, and close your eyes and see the commercial play in your mind. (Probably North American only -- I doubt that other areas of the world were exposed to it.) When you consider that it has not been aired commercially in over 20 years, the staying power of this ad is extraordinary. OK, are we ready?

"My bologna has a first name..."

tanstaafl.

Posted by: tfabris

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 14/02/2002 16:14

Okay, but does anyone have some that aren't from TV commercials? Like the Andy Warhol quote, or the Hindenburg quote.
Posted by: SE_Sport_Driver

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 14/02/2002 16:23

The President of the United States ordered me to break through the Japanese lines and proceed from Corregidor to Australia for the purpose, as I understand it, of organizing the American offensive against Japan, a primary objective of which is the relief of the Philippines. I came through and I shall return.
Posted by: tfabris

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 14/02/2002 16:25

Ah, yes, good one.
Posted by: tfabris

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 14/02/2002 16:29

Oh, I just thought of one. "Death and Taxes". Who said that first?
Posted by: tonyc

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 14/02/2002 16:58

I believe the original quote was "In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes" and I'm reasonably certain it was Ben Franklin.

"The only President of the United States who was never President of the United States."
Posted by: svferris

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 14/02/2002 17:00

Ahh, one of many famous quotes by Benjamin Franklin.
Posted by: svferris

Re: Origins of "Mister Happy"? - 14/02/2002 17:01

Doh! Beat me by two minutes.