11 Perfectamundo Phrases from Happy Days
By Angela Tung
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.
“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!”
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 coolamundo, fabamundo, and dumpamundo.
4. CHUCK CUNNINGHAM SYNDROME
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
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.
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.
“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).
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
“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.
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.)