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Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Doh of Homer; The Doh of Jimmy

Jimmy Finlayson,left, with America's exemplar of fatherhood
Thanks to the majesty of Homer Simpson, the interjection doh has become a phenomenon--even a cause célèbre. It is the cat's pajamas among interjections, which remain the poorest of poor relations among the parts of speech. Two weeks ago, with leverage from the web site Laughing Squid, a Simpsons enthusiast   launched an amusing, annoying YouTube compilation of nearly every  Homeric doh that aired during the first 20 years of The Simpsons. The post, which went viral within a week, currently has 617,000+ hits.

It is common knowledge that Homer was understudy to the Scottish comic actor Jimmy Finlayson, an often  cartoony foil in Laurel & Hardy classics. For your convenience, Wig & Pen offers a snippet of Homer's staccato dohs chased by Finlayson's more elastic, keening doh. The latter comes from the immortal soda scene in Laurel & Hardy's 1929 two-reeler, Men O' War. These examples aim to right a tragedy in comedy:  Homer and Finlayson have rarely been heard in tandem.

Doh made it into the Oxford English Dictionary  in 2001. Here's hoping that Homer's gift to the Queen's English will elevate the Simpson name to a better station in the UK. That remains a tall order in the 75-year wake of Wallis Simpson's seduction in 1930s of the Brit who would not be king.

From the OED:

             doh, int.

Pronunciation: Brit. /dəʊ/ , U.S. /doʊ/
Forms: 19– d'oh, 19– doh, 19– dooh.
Etymology: Imitative. Compare oh int., duh int.
... (Show More)
Expressing frustration at the realization that things have turned out badly or not as planned, or that one has just said or done something foolish. Also (usu. mildly derogatory): implying that another person has said or done something foolish (cf. duh int.).

Coda: The Laurel & Hardy Soda Scene: