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January 19: Ish Kabibble

January 19, 2015

250px-IshgimletIsh Kabibble was the nickname that cornet player and comedian Merwyn Bogue (born this date in 1908), who was not Jewish, chose for his dimwitted comic character. Bogue derived it, he said, from a 1913 novelty song that he used to sing, titled, “Isch gabibble” (words by Sam M. Lewis, music by George W Meyer), and a 1915 cartoon postcard, at right, which translates “Ish Ka Bibble” to mean “I Should Worry.” The name was also used by comic strip artist Harry Hershfield in 1914 when he introduced his strip, “Abie the Agent,” which featured “Abie Kabibble,” a Jew, as the central character. “It looks and sounds Yiddish,” says, “and the phrases nish gefidlt, nikht gefiedelt, and ikh gebliebte have all been suggested as sources.... Many people at the time certainly thought it was Yiddish... But it was equally firmly said by contemporaries that no Yiddish connection existed at all. And the slang term bibble is recorded a few years earlier, albeit with the meaning of nonsense talk. It’s a shortened form of bibble-babble, a reduplication of babble, which goes right back to the 16th century and turns up in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: ‘Endeavour thy selfe to sleepe, and leave thy vain bibble babble.’ ”

220px-Ishkabbiblebogue“This suntan lotion is no good. I drank half the bottle and I’m still just as pale as ever.” —Ish Kabibble