“Nickname Selection Guide for Gangsters,” by Jay Morris

Nov 30th, 2011 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

Dear Uncle Jay:

I have recently been contemplating abandoning my job as an itinerant poultry inspector–I’m really tired of all the politics and drama–in order to pursue a full-time career as a gangster. My friend Irwin says that I will never get anywhere in that field without a catchy and colorful nickname, but I’m at a loss as to how to choose one. Can you help?

                                    –B.W., Racine, Wisconsin

For today’s gangster, an appropriate nickname is a must; many an ambitious hood has failed to realize his dream of making the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List despite having numerous bloody murders and racketeering convictions to his credit, simply because his nickname was bland or non-existent.

The first thing to consider when choosing a nickname is where to place it. As a rule, nicknames work best as middle names:

Steve “The Mangler” Smith

Some work well as replacements for first names:

“Mangler” Smith

Nicknames added at the end of names are rare, because they lack emphasis, as if (in this case) mangling were an afterthought rather than a priority:

Steve Smith, “The Mangler”

Other, eccentric placements of nicknames have been known to occur, but are not recommended:

Steve Sm“The Mangler”ith

Now that you’ve decided where to put your nickname, which specific nickname should you choose? This question is not to be taken lightly—promising careers in crime have suffered because the gangster in question chose a nickname hastily, without considering all the possible ramifications:

Steve “If I’m Ever On The Lam From The Police I’ll Go To My Hideout At 23 Oak Street” Smith

Remember: a nickname will stick with you always, right up until the moment of your lethal injection, so choose carefully. Don’t pick a name that will bring your toughness into question:

Steve “The Whimperer” Smith

And don’t pick one that’s too esoteric for the general gangster public to understand:

Steve “Representing The Evil Half Of Ultimate Dualism As Considered In Traditional Augustinian Theodicy” Smith

It’s best to choose a name based on an attribute which helps define you as a person—if you have a special talent for decapitation, for example, say so directly:

Steve “The Decapitator” Smith

Don’t be coy:

Steve “Doing A Certain Thing To Certain People Which May Well Leave Them Lacking An Essential Above-The-Neck Body Part” Smith

Finally, if for some reason you must change your nickname—if, for example, a rival gang member has stabbed you repeatedly in the head with a salad fork, rendering you unable to mangle people at the level of competence you enjoyed previously, then relief is available. Simply write to your local godfather and explain how you absolutely cannot, under any circumstances, continue to live with your current name. He’ll kill you.


Jay Morris is a graduate of LaSalle University, where he was awarded a scholarship for creative writing. He has published dozens of stories in various literary magazines, including Philadelphia Stories and Zahir. He has also written one play, Rude Baby, which was recently produced, and worked for a time as a joke writer for Jay Leno. His new humor book, Uncle Jay’s Unreliable Almanac, is available at Amazon.


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