11 Perfectamundo Phrases from Happy Days

This week, in 1984, the very last episode of Happy Days aired. That ‘70s show about 1950s nostalgia ran for an epic 11 seasons and spun off several series including Laverne & Shirley, Joanie Loves Chachi, and Mork & Mindy (the present-day setting of which was explained by Mork’s time traveling abilities).

What Happy Days also gave us was a litany of catchphrases and slang that are now an integral part of our pop culture lexicon. Here are 11 that are particularly perfectamundo.

1. SIT ON IT

Created by writer and producer Bob Brunner, the show’s most famous catchphrase might be an alteration of sit and spin or sit and rotate, which implies one should go sit on one’s thumb and rotate, a somewhat cleaner version of shove it up your ass.

2. FONZIE

“What’s a Fonzie?” asks Howard.

This nickname for Arthur Fonzarelli was another Bob Brunner invention. However, the Fonz was originally supposed to be the Mash, as in Masciarelli, show creator Garry Marshall’s real surname. However, producers thought the Mash was too similar to the name of another popular show at the time.

Now a Fonzie is used to refer to anyone cool, as was the case in Pulp Fiction

[Jules]: “We’re gonna be like three Fonzies. And what’s Fonzie like?”

[Yolanda]: “He’s cool?” 

[Jules]: “Correct-amundo!”

3. EXACTAMUNDO

A Fonzarelli epithet, exactamundo is a blend of exact and the suffix intensifier -amundo, which might come from the Spanish mundo, meaning “world.”

While exactamundo might seem like the most popular -amundo blend, it wasn’t Fonzie’s first. A dedicated poster at Sitcoms Online has compiled a thorough record of “AMDUNDO SPOTTINGS” in the show. (There's also this terrific supercut.) Congratsamundo seems to be the first usage, while other variations include coolamundofabamundo, and dumpamundo.

4. CHUCK CUNNINGHAM SYNDROME

 

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Happy Days
 aficionados will remember that Joanie and Richie once had an older brother named Chuck. Alas, poor Chuck was dropped after a mere nine episodes, and neither his ephemeral presence nor his sudden departure were ever acknowledged or explained.

At least he had a TV trope named after him: the Chuck Cunningham Syndrome, in which a character disappears from a show with no explanation. Related is The Other Darrin trope, named for the unmentioned replacement of the actor who played Samantha's husband in Bewitched. That trope can also be seen in Roseanne, with the swapping of Beckys, in Mad Men, which changed Bobbies, and in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which replaced the original Aunt Viv.

5. BUCKO

Richie Cunningham’s go-to insult, bucko is nautical slang that originated in the 1880s and referred to an blustering, bragging sort of fellow. The word comes from buck, applied to antlered male animals.

6. YOWSAH YOWSAH YOWSAH 

Another Richie maxim, yowsah signifies general enthusiastic approval while yowsah yowsah yowsah signifies three times as much. It was also originally the catchphrase of 1930s jazz musician Ben Bernie and most likely where the show’s writers got their inspiration.

7. INSPIRATION POINT

Speaking of which, let's not forget the gang's makeout destination, Inspiration Point. There are at least a couple of real-life Inspiration Points, including a viewpoint at Bryce Canyon in Utah and the Inspiration Point Shelter on the Henry Hudson Parkway in New York.

In a season seven episode, the smooching spot was almost closed to make way for an expressway off-ramp, but in the end was saved for future neckers.

8. NECKING

“Mom, it's hard to neck with a beak,” says Joanie when her mother suggests that she go as Donald Duck to a costume party.

A favorite hobby of the show's teens, the term necking seems quintessentially '50s. However, it actually originated in the early 19th century and meant to hug someone around the neck (and, by extension, to fondle, caress, and kiss in general).

9. POTSIE
 

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“You’re such a Potsie!” Ralph Malph says to Warren “Potsie” Weber when he’s being particular Potsie-like.

On the show it’s explained that Potsie got his nickname because of his childhood affinity for clay and Play-doh. (Presumably, he gifted his mother a lot of pots?) In reality, Potsie was named after a friend of Garry Marshall's wife.

Potsie also sounds a lot like patsy, someone easily duped, which Potsie often was.

10. CHACHI

Charles “Chachi” Arcola was introduced as Fonzie’s younger cousin in the show’s fifth season, and later became Joanie’s love interest. Sitcom legend says that Happy Days spinoff Joanie Loves Chachi was a hit in Korea because Chachi translates from Korean as “penis”—hence, Joanie Loves Penis.

However, this might only be legend, at least according to Snopes. While Chachi is similar to a Korean slang term for penis, jaji, Snopes argues that most Koreans wouldn’t have even seen the show as it was aired only on the American Forces Korean Network, which broadcasted American programs exclusively to U.S. military personnel. Apparently, the Joanie Loves Penis rumor was propagated by Garry Marshall and Scott Baio during interviews promoting the show.

11. JUMP THE SHARK

We can thank writer and producer Bob Brunner for the infamous jump the shark storyline, officially titled “Hollywood.” Fonzie has been enticed to make a go of it in the movies, only to be thwarted by the obnoxious California Kid. This West Coast rival challenges Fonzie to a water skiing duel, as one does, which naturally includes some tiger shark-jumping. The Fonz (being the Fonz) beats the Cali Kid, and in the process, gives us a pop culture term for the ages.

Referring to when a ridiculous or over-the-top event marks the decline of a TV series, jump the shark was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006, although it has been in use since at least 1998.

(The opposite of jump the shark might be Riker’s beard, when a show suddenly gets better. This comes from a fan theory that Star Trek: The Next Generation improved after Commander William Riker grew a beard.)

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How to Craft the Perfect Comeback, According to Experts
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In a 1997 episode of Seinfeld called “The Comeback,” George Costanza is merrily stuffing himself with free shrimp at a meeting. His coworker mocks him: “Hey, George, the ocean called. They’re running out of shrimp.” George stands humiliated as laughter fills the room, his mind searching frantically for the perfect riposte.

It’s only later, on the drive home, that he thinks of the comeback. But the moment has passed.

The common human experience of thinking of the perfect response too late—l’esprit de l’escalier, or "the wit of the staircase"—was identified by French philosopher Denis Diderot when he was so overwhelmed by an argument at a party that he could only think clearly again once he’d gotten to the bottom of the stairs.

We've all been there. Freestyle rappers, improv comedians, and others who rely on witty rejoinders for a living say their jobs make them better equipped to seize the opportunity for clever retorts in everyday life. They use a combination of timing, listening, and gagging their inner critics. Here are their insights for crafting the perfect comeback.

LISTEN TO YOUR OPPONENT’S ARGUMENT.

The next time you’re in a heated conversation, be less focused on what you're about to say and more attentive to what you're actually responding to. When you spend more time considering what your sparring partner is saying, “you’re deferring your response until you’ve fully heard the other person," Jim Tosone, a technology executive-turned-improv coach who developed the Improv Means Business program, tells Mental Floss. Your retorts may be more accurate, and therefore more successful, when you’re fully engaged with the other person’s thoughts.

DON’T THINK TOO MUCH.

According to Belina Raffy, the CEO of the Berlin-based company Maffick—which also uses improv skills in business—not overthinking the situation is key. “You’re taking yourself out of unfolding reality if you think too much,” she tells Mental Floss. It’s important to be in the moment, and to deliver your response to reflect that moment.

TRAIN THAT SPONTANEOUS MENTAL MUSCLE.

History’s most skilled comeback artists stored witticisms away for later use, and were able to pull them out of their memory at the critical time.

Winston Churchill was known for his comebacks, but Tim Riley, director and chief curator at the National Churchill Museum in Fulton, Missouri, tells Mental Floss that many of his burns were borrowed. One of his most famous lines was in response to politician Bessie Braddock’s jab, “Sir, you are drunk.” The prime minister replied, “And you, Bessie, are ugly. But I shall be sober in the morning, and you will still be ugly.”

Riley says this line was copied from comic W.C. Fields. Nevertheless, it took quick thinking to remember and reshape the quote in the moment, which is why Churchill was thought of as a master of timing. “It was an off-the-cuff recall of something he had synthesized, composed earlier, and that he was waiting to perform,” Riley says.

But in some situations, the retort must be created entirely in the moment. Training for spontaneity on stage also helps with being quicker-witted in social situations, New York City battle rap emcee iLLspokinn tells Mental Floss. It’s like working a spontaneous muscle that builds with each flex, so, you’re incrementally better each time at seizing that witty opportunity.

MUZZLE YOUR INNER CRITIC.

Anyone who has been in the audience for an improv show has seen how rapidly performers respond to every situation. Improv teaches you to release your inhibitions and say what drops into your mind: “It’s about letting go of the need to judge ourselves,” Raffy explains.

One way to break free of your internal editor might be to imagine yourself on stage. In improv theater, the funniest responses occur in the spur of the moment, says Douglas Widick, an improv performer who trained with Chicago’s Upright Citizens Brigade. By not letting one’s conscience be one’s guide, actors can give into their “deepest fantasies” and say the things they wouldn’t say in real life.

IF YOU HAVE AN EXTRA SECOND, HONE YOUR ZINGER.

The German version of Diderot’s term is Treppenwitz, also meaning the wit of the stairs. But the German phrase has evolved to mean the opposite: Something said that, in retrospect, was a bad joke. When squaring up to your rival, the high you get from spearing your opponent with a deadly verbal thrust can be shadowed by its opposite, the low that comes from blurting out a lame response that lands like a lead balloon.

That's a feeling that freestyle rapper Lex Rush hopes to avoid. “In the heat of the battle, you just go for it,” she tells Mental Floss. She likens the fight to a “stream of consciousness” that unfolds into the mic, which leaves her with little control over what she’s projecting into the crowd.

It may help to mull over your retort if you have a few extra seconds—especially if you’re the extroverted type. “Introverts may walk out of a meeting thinking, ‘Why didn’t I say that?’ while extroverts think, ‘Why did I say that?’” Tosone, the improv coach, says. Thinking before you speak, even just briefly, will help you deploy a successful comeback.

And if it doesn’t go your way, iLLspokinn advises brushing off your missed opportunity rather than dwelling on your error: “It can be toxic to hold onto it."

THROW DIGITAL SHADE ACCORDING TO THE SAME RULES—BUT BE QUICK ABOUT IT.

Texting and social media, as opposed to face-to-face contact, give you a few extra minutes to think through your responses. That could improve the quality of your zinger. “We’re still human beings, even on screens. And we prefer something that is well-stated and has a fun energy and wit about it," Scott Talan, a social media expert at American University, tells Mental Floss.

But don't wait too long: Replies lose their punch after a day or so. “Speed is integral to wit, whether in real life or screen life,” Talan says. “If you’re trying to be witty and have that reputation, then speed will help you."

Some companies have excelled in deploying savage social media burns as marketing strategies, winning viral retweets and recognition. The Wendy’s Twitter account has become so well known for its sassy replies that users often provoke it. “Bet you won’t follow me @Wendys,” a user challenged. “You won that bet,” Wendy’s immediately shot back.

George Costanza learns that lesson when he uses his rehearsed comeback at the next meeting. After his colleague repeats his shrimp insult, George stands and proudly announces, “Oh yeah? Well, the jerk store called, and they’re running out of you!”

There’s silence—until his nemesis comes back with a lethal move: “What’s the difference? You’re their all-time best-seller.”

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Why Do Americans Call It ‘Soccer’ Instead of ‘Football’?
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While more Americans than ever are embracing soccer, they can't even get the sport's name right, according to some purists. For most of the world, including the vast majority of Europe and South America, it’s football, fútbol, or some other variation. In the United States, Canada, Japan, and a few other stragglers, it’s firmly known as soccer, much to the annoyance of those who can't understand how a sport played with feet and a ball can be called anything else. So why the conflict?

According to a paper [PDF] by University of Michigan professor Stefan Szymanski, it all began in England in the early 1800s, when a version of the sport of football—based on a game played by “common people” in the Middle Ages—found its way into the recreational scene of some of the country’s most privileged schools. To give uniformity to the competitions between these schools and clubs, a set of standard rules was drafted by students in Cambridge in 1848. These rules would become further solidified when they were adopted by the more organized Football Association in 1863.

It wasn't long before variations of the sport began to splinter off—in 1871, the Rugby Football Union was founded, using Rugby School rules from the 1830s that allowed a player to run with the ball in their hands. This new take on the sport would be known as rugby football, or rugger, to separate itself from association football, the traditional feet-only version of the sport. From there, association football would get the nickname assoccer, leading eventually to just soccer. The addition of an "er" at the end of a word was something of a trend at the time, which is why we get the awkward transformation of association into assoccer and soccer.

The first recorded American football game was between the colleges of Rutgers and Princeton in 1869 and used unique rules derived from those in both association and rugby football. Though this new, evolving game would just be called football in the U.S., elsewhere it would become known as gridiron football or American football, much in the way Gaelic football and Australian football have their own distinctions. Eventually in England, rugby football was shortened to just rugby, while association football simply became known as football. Which meant that now there were two footballs, on opposite sides of the Atlantic, and neither side would budge. And Americans would begin referring to England's football by the previous nickname, soccer.

Despite the confusion nowadays, soccer was still a colloquial term used in England well into the 20th century—it rose in popularity following World War II before falling out of favor in the 1970s and ‘80s, according to Szymanski. In more recent years, it’s mostly been used in England in a strictly American context, like when publications and the media refer to U.S. leagues like Major League Soccer (MLS). Currently, soccer is mostly used in countries that have their own competing version of football—including the United States, Canada, and Australia.

While it boils the blood of certain traditionalists, soccer is by no means an Americanism—like the sport itself, this is purely an English export.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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