And the Tobias Funke Award Goes to . . .

Tobias Funke is a character on the TV series Arrested Development who constantly says things that have a double meaning, but without recognizing that there’s a double meaning. Often in online groups, people will post statements or pictures, particularly things done by BYU, that suffer the same problem: unintentional double entendre. A few of Tobias Funke’s most famous lines:

  • Hoping to be cast in a desirable acting role: “Oh, man, I can just taste those meaty leading man parts in my mouth.”
  • Window shopping for wigs as an actor: “I guess you could say I’m buy-curious.”
  • Explaining his new title on his business cards: “I was a professional twice over–an analyst and a therapist. The world’s first ‘analrapist.'”
  • Dressed for an audition for Blue Man Group: “I’m afraid that I just blue myself.” Michael: “There has got to be a better way to say that.”

The latest one occurred last week when BYU-TV decided that the cleavage shown in Sense & Sensibility was simply too much for their pearl-clutching censors[1], so they blurred out the women’s chests:

Image may contain: one or more people and people standing

The result looks positively pornographic. One commenter re-captioned it “They’re real, and they’re spectacular,” a reference to the Seinfeld episode in which Jerry is convinced his girlfriend Sidra has had a boob job, and he sends Elaine into the sauna to determine if she has. Elaine accidentally trips and falls on Sidra.

Image result for they're real and they're spectacular gif

One reason these Tobias Funke moments keep happening is the utter innocence of those in charge of making these decisions. Accidental double entendre happens when only the innocent interpretation occurs to you, or in other words, it takes a dirty mind to prevent it.

Nine Dolphins

“I saw 9 dolphins”: This is the phrase one uses when another party in a conversation makes a dirty joke and one doesn’t get it.
It originally comes from the 9 dolphins optical illusion. Research found that children could not recognize the intimate scene of the couple because they did not have the prior memory association with such a scenario. Therefore, instead of seeing the couple in an intimate pose, they saw 9 dolphins. I won’t link to the photo here because unless you are a child, it really is a very sexually explicit picture. You can probably Google it safely from work, though, because there is a rum that uses the image on its label.
But Her Stomach Was Covered!
I recently read a post by Rosemary Card, a Mormon model. She says she is often asked by church members, particularly YW leaders, to talk about how she could be a model and also be modest. (Her simple answer: she couldn’t, at least not by Mormon standards of showing no shoulders or thighs). She did set specific standards for her shoots, though, and she steadfastly stuck to them, even despite significant pressure: no lingerie, no sheer, no semi-nude, no nude, no alcohol or smoking, and no khakis! Looking back on her career with her mother, who had been her staunch supporter and ally throughout the process, she said she had no shoots she regretted.
Her mom disagreed, slightly. There was one shoot that gave her pause.

My mom, totally supportive and proud, lightly said she kinda sorta wished I could take back that “child prostitute shoot.”


That child WHAT shoot? When the heck in the world did I do a child PROSTITUTE shoot? My brain raced for any memory of participating in something so disgusting and deplorable. Lovingly my mom reminded me of this shoot.[2]

The shoot took place in a dilapidated motel on Coney Island.  The room consisted of four bare and heavily stained twin mattress stacked two deep and shoved in a corner. There was one bashed up wooden chair and a dead rat behind the broken radiator. Luckily someone brought a flat bed sheet to cover the mattresses to create a barrier between me and the cockroaches crawling inside them. The photographer rented by the room by the half an hour and there was a communal toilet (no sink) in the hall. I was 16 years old. Call me naive, but it had never crossed my mind that prostitution motels even existed.

I just thought they picked the location because it looked different.

As the makeup artist rouged my cheeks, I eyed my wardrobe for the shoot. Nothing looked more revealing than a one piece swimsuit. As the stylist laced up a vintage Dior leotard (read: corset) I felt relieved. I wouldn’t have to push back or defend myself today. They posed me and coached me. The shoot went off without a hitch. The strangest part to me was the crew insisting I rub hand sanitizer on my body every time I got off the bed or floor.

It wasn’t until years later, with the help of my caring mom, that I understood what I was depicting that day. Child prostitution is one of the lowest and most vile institutions on this earth and at the hands of a room of adults, I, a child, glamorized it. While it may seem silly to some, this shoot introduced a immense sense of shame and pain (rhyming unintentional) into my life for quite some time.

But of course, as a child herself, she didn’t have the sexual experience to understand why that shoot was being staged the way it was, or what the context was. She was too innocent to prevent the image from being created. Which brings us back to the flaw with putting clean minds in charge of censoring words and images on behalf of BYU. Because they don’t get it, they actually make things much worse by censoring them than the things were to start with!

The Pantsless Student

One BYU-Idaho picture showed a man hiking wearing tan shorts, to illustrate a returning student facing “mountains” of homework, but because BYU-Idaho’s dress code prohibits shorts, his legs are blurred out.

This prompted the following joke article in the Sunday Pews:

Image result for byu-idaho blurred legs tan shorts

In another great moment, a BYU questionnaire to determine if a respondent is human or a bot, this happens:

The 3rd question says: BYU has a mascot. Perhaps you’ve seen it. It’s big and it growls, and its name is Cosmo. Cosmo is supposed to be a type of cat, also known as a puma or a mountain lion. But here at BYU, we use the “C” word . . . ”

Say what, now? The “C” word is a common short-hand for a vulgarity used for female genitalia. Is it really possible that the person who wrote this didn’t know that? At this point, I’m almost starting to wonder if there’s a Little Mermaid artist infiltrating the BYUs. [3]

An early modesty poster at BYU instructed women that their skirts needed to reach their knees. Image result for byu modesty on your knees poster

Unfortunately, it sounds a little like “get on your knees,” which has a sexual meaning, but in fairness, they did say “please.” Then again, maybe please makes it worse. [4]

Do you think this is a self-amusing saboteur’s handiwork? Or do you think this is just babes in the woods being given the keys to a car for which their feet don’t yet reach the pedals? Either way, I can only hope they keep it up. It’s comedic gold.

Are there other examples of accidental double entendre that you have encountered?


[1] Come to think of it, clutching your pearls should also be blurred out due to the proximity to bosoms.

[2] Go to the article to see the photo in question.

[3] Snopes disagrees there’s a phallus in the palace. Personally, I think it’s just a normal feature of Mermaid architecture of that era.

[4] See also the Beatles song “Please please me.” Or go into any Chik-fil-a where their corporate policy that they reply to any customer thanks with “my pleasure” led me to observe that I had pleasured half their staff one day.


  1. I still want to know if they blurred out all the dudes’ regency-era riding-breaches bulges.

  2. [please delete if this is a duplicate]
    I saw the following in a Facebook thread recently. The vulgarity seemed very clear to me, but I think the commenter had the Bible on the mind. Names have been changed to barely protect the not-so-innocent:

    Tobias: Gob, [conversation omitted]. However, instead of jumping in and staying on topic and having some edification take place, people detour from the subject material and start pricking at me personally. What impression of those who do such should I come away with? That they really know their scriptures well or that they are pricks?

    Michael: Tobias, Did you just call someone a prick?! I appreciate the pun, but holy cow.

    Tobias: Michael, People who prick people personally are pricks, yes. Pointing out this self-evident fact doesn’t make me a prick either.

    Michael: Tobias, I don’t think that’s the conventional meaning of the term… 🙄

    Tobias: Michael, It’s a slang for sure. Did I just invent it?

    Tobias: Ugh, I checked the urban dictionary and apparently there are a couple of definitions in use, neither of which seems fitting for this situation.

    Michael: [thumbs up]

  3. John Mansfield says:

    A difficulty with policing unintentional double entendres is that there isn’t a noun, verb, adjective, or preposition in the English language that hasn’t been used with a sexual connotation. Those Tobias Funke lines don’t really count as unintentional; they were crafted by screenwriters as intentionally as possible.

  4. I used to work in an LDS bookstore and we had a shelf in the back of self published books the authors sent us in hopes that we would carry them. One of the titles that lingered on that shelf was by a woman titled, “My Burning Bush”.

  5. Kevin Barney says:

    I have the DVD of Ang Lee’s version of Sense and Sensibility, and (like many Mormons, I imagine) I have watched that movie dozens of times. That anyone could possibly think this kind of censoring was necessary is absolutely stunning to me. That whoever did it could be so clueless as to not understand the pornification of the images he was effecting is much less surprising. In any event, thanks for calling this out.

  6. This has always seemed a difficulty to me for companies that censor movies to allow people to watch a “clean” version. For it to work, you have to have someone whose job it is to watch inappropriate things, almost like you’re paying someone else to sin so you don’t have to.

  7. Sidebottom says:

    A gospel doctrine teacher once encouraged us to be missionaries by “exposing ourselves to other people”. Most of the class took this in stride but I scanned the room to see who was laughing (so I’d know who would be joining me in hell).

  8. My third grade concert included a rendition of “It’s a Hard Knocks Life” from Annie. A friend of mine got confused with the lyrics and thought the phrase was “It’s a hard on life.” The confusion spread during the song and by the end, he, I, and many others were belting out as loud as possible “It’s – A – Hard – On – Life !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Parents were mortified. My dad was the bishop. We had a memorable discussion in the car ride home that began with him saying “so tell me about that song …. “

  9. We Photoshop cap sleeves onto angels and little girls. This is no different. Pathetic…

  10. Stunningly, people who work for below-market wages in a small, isolated metro area might not have the best critical thinking skills, nor awareness of contexts other than their own.

  11. In the world outside the church the abbreviation D&C is a term that most adult women are familiar with because it refers to a gynecological procedure. I cringe whenever I hear young missionaries throwing around that expression, especially in front of non-members. To our church ears it sounds fine, but trust me, to anyone else it doesn’t. I’ve had perplexed questions from non-member friends attending church for the first time. He said WHAT????

    I know we’re busy people but it’s only a few extra syllables. Doctrine and Covenants. Say it with me. It’s worth the extra time it takes.

  12. Kevin Barney says:

    BB, I first learned what a D&C was the summer before my mission, when I worked at the hospital sterilizing surgical instruments. They had a chart of what the day’s procedures would be, and D&C was a common occurrence on that chart. Ironically, I spent my free time at work that summer actually reading the LDS version of D&C.

  13. your food allergy is fake says:

    I can’t for the life of me see the dolphins.

  14. My junior high principal, who had been booted upstairs from a coaching career, wanted us all to be “athletic supporters.”

  15. How about when BYU Bookstore sent out an email with the subject line “Dad Loves Leather”?

  16. Kevin,
    LOL. Ah the secret world of Mormon acronyms. Part of me wonders if blind spots like this have anything to do with our all male leadership. Would the general RS president be comfortable bringing this up with the Q12? I mean Elder Nelson is a physician. But maybe I’m just over thinking all of this. ;)

  17. You forgot the time when the ballroom team did a dance with inflatable sex dolls.

  18. Never ask a room full of Primary children (or youth, for that matter), ‘what starts with P and men in the church have it?’

  19. As long as we’re talking about inadvertent double entendres, my industry (electric utilities) is full of ’em:

    Pole loading
    Loss of load probability
    PV penetration rate

    And that’s before we even get into hydroelectric generation, which has a vocabulary so filthy I wouldn’t even use it in a smoke-filled room full of grown men. (Sample: “1500 feet of hydraulic head.”)

  20. Tony Wonder says:

    FYI, that model story was written by and is about Rosemary Card, the owner of that blog, not James the Mormon’s girlfriend Lindsay.

  21. One time in Sacrament Meeting our ward EQ president was giving a talk and the stake president was sitting on the stand also. This EQ pres liked to joke around and accused the stake pres of playing with his “playboy.” He obviously meant game boy and he didn’t realize he said the name of a men’s magazine and had accused the stake president of viewing pornography (and perhaps worse) in front of 200 people. The stake president just sat there and showed no emotion whatsoever. I incredulously asked my wife if he said what I thought he said and she got angry at me for talking about porn in sacrament meeting. He clearly said playboy but it didn’t register to my wife. The EQ president wrote a very apologetic email to the entire ward later that afternoon…

  22. I still don’t get the shoulders thing.

  23. I would take this post more seriously if it could distinguish gaffes from self-mocking humor. Alas.

  24. Tony Wonder: Thanks for that clarification. I’d hate to get James the Mormon in hot water. I’ll fix the OP.

    OT: Yes! That dance was . . . horrifying. What on earth were they thinking, and why did nobody see it???

    Jessie: The “Dad Loves Leather” is also funny because it is LITERALLY a line Tobias Funke uses in an episode of Arrested Development.

  25. The hymnal is full of double entendres. “Rise Up O Men Of God” is always good before a chastity lesson. There is the ever popular ode to birth control with , “Come come ye Saints, no toil or labor fear.” You’ve got a line about morning sex with “Awake and arise, O ye slumbering nations! The heavens have opened their portals again.”
    Pretty much all of “He is risin” has a double meaning but the second verse, “Come with high and holy hymning;
    Chant our Lord’s triumphant lay.” is particularly perverse.

    It’s pretty easy to find innuendo if you look for it. One of the reason we as humans do so is precisely because of the dolphin issue. As adults, there is a societal interest in keeping young kids naive, so we talk in code to hide the content of our sex themed conversations in plain site from the kiddos. One side effect is spillage into other communications.

    This isn’t anything new. Literature has been using metaphor to describe sex acts for millennia. Many classic literature authors such as Shakespeare, Boccaccio, and even Barrie, used sexual metaphore for commedic and dramatic effect.

    Anyway, rambling now…. shitting up lest I pull a Tobias Funke myself.

  26. Which examples here are plausibly “self-mocking humor”? The BYUI ad? That’s the only one I’m not sure I buy.

  27. Oh… the irony.. Shutting up. Shutting up.

  28. Oh, JLM, I finally thought someone was being honest about his comments on BCC. That would probably work as a closing line for most of the posts and the comments here.

    What’s amusing is that I still remember fondly some of the educational films I saw at BYU when I was a boy–my father was on the faculty, so we used to frequent the Varsity Theater and the Budget Movies (pay your $2/semester ward budget and get a pass to the weekend movies in the Joseph Smith Auditorium). The plot was ridiculous and forgettable, but Raquel Welch’s figure was not, in “Fathom”, I don’t know if Gina Lollabrigida could act, but she looked ravishing in “Trapeze,” “Gypsy” turned out to be about a stripper, and Natalie Wood seems to have meant it when she sang “Let me Entertain You,” and Vivien Leigh had a lovely decolletage in “Gone With the Wind,” although by the end I, like Rhett Butler, simply didn’t give a damn. Somehow the church managed to make it through those days without driving completely off the rails.

  29. I’m rolling on the floor laughing.

  30. JLM, You left out my favorite: Sweet is the Peace the Gospel Brings, verse 5: ““…No wrangling sects disturb our peace…” It’s fun to watch for reactions when the congregation sings that line.

  31. I remember several years ago seeing a story in the sports section of a newspaper (can’t remember which one) about the professional golfer, Fred Couples, who had just won a major tournament. Accompanying the story was a picture of his wife giving him a big hug on the 18th green right after he made the winning put. The caption read: “Fred Couples with wife.”

  32. Whatchamacallit says:

    Two things. This ad showed up at BYU a couple of conferences ago.

    Second, a story from sacrement meeting. A speaker from the high council spoke about an acronym that has helped him throughout his life. It was Faith, Action, and Prayer. It led to some very strange quotes. “When I’m having trouble I FAP.” Or “when I’m depressed I remember to FAP.”

  33. Whatchamacallit: “When I’m having trouble, I FAP.” Classic!

  34. Wheat and Tares actually started the Tobian Funke award included in their yearly awards. Sis Nelson’s mention of “tooting a flute” during a talk on sex won the inaugural trophy:

  35. Morgan Deane: Yes, that Hawkgrrrl sure is something!

  36. Can’t resist. When I was about nine my father wanted to widen my horizons. He told me about the word “bitch” explaining that it was a female dog. He also hinted around and explained a bit about the bad usage.

    A week later riding home from a late fireside in a packed car, my brother’s friend said “Richard, you are a real dog.” Without loosing a beat I emphatically stated, “Yea, he’s a son of a bitch!”

    For about five seconds there was the most profound silence in that car I have ever experienced. I think I learned about swearing in those seconds.

  37. Happy Hubby says:

    “given the keys to a car for which their feet don’t yet reach the pedals?”
    I like that metaphor!
    I have always assumed it was more sheltered naivety, with some exceptions.

    Just look at the last few years of BYU sports slogans. “Everyday is game day” Come on. You mean to tell me that nobody saw “Except Sundays, or Monday nights, or conference weekends …” I thought about that within seconds the first time I saw that.

    And what about “rise up”? Do you have to tell your bishop if you cause yourself to “rise up” or only if you “rise up and shout”?

  38. The entire movie produced by BYU-Lite. The President of BYU commission it and was responsible for its content and he/they had no idea how everyone else in America saw the film and laughed uproariously at it.

    They intended: A film to encourage students to rat out (turn in) their roommates if they caught the looking at pornography. It was a good thing to report on your roommate because “fighting porn is as bad as being in an armed conflict.”

    What the world saw: An anti-masturbation film wherein you were supposed rat out in your roommate for doing what everyone else was doing anyway.

    For fun I showed it to my Freshman Seminar class at RIT. They were first incredulous that anyone would look at porn with their door open, then they were incredulous that students were being told to inform on their roommates like Germans did on each other during WW2.

  39. Aussie Mormon says:

    There’s also a whole range of fake unnecessary censorship videos out there, whereby people bleep out normal words which make it sound horribly inappropriate.
    As an example, search on youtube for “The Count Censored”. The video with 19million views is the one you want.

  40. another anon says:

    I was once teaching a Gospel Doctrine lesson on the importance of callings. A lot of class members were making good comments about times that someone in a high profile calling (bishop, Relief Society president, etc.) had helped them. I decided to try to get the conversation expanded a bit, and I asked if anyone had an experience where their life was positively influenced by someone in some lower profile calling. When no hands went up, I started rattling off different callings.

    Along the way, I earnestly said–“For example, scoutmaster. Was anyone here ever touched by their scoutmaster?” No one commented. Completely missing the double meaning of what I had just said, I decided to dig in. I asked again: “Come on. Surely someone here was touched by their scoutmaster.” Silence. “No one was touched by their scoutmaster? Really?” It was only when I looked up and saw my wife giggling uncontrollably on the back row that I realized what I was saying.


  41. Rachel Whipple says:

    The signs a few years ago encouraging BYU students to “Conference and Chill” after the style of “Netflix and chill” were pretty funny.

  42. I had a roommate at the BYU who served a mission in Hong Kong. He sold knock off high end ties he bought from a source there on eBay. His eBay name was “Mr. Poon”.

    After getting a few emails with wink nudge comments like “I thought I was the real Mr. Poon, good name man!”, he worked up the courage to ask the rest of us if there was something he might be missing about that name ;-) He said is was the name native speakers gave him as a missionary because it was the closest thing to his last name. -Completely innocent.

    Bonus entendre- he had also never heard of “Fletch”, Chevy Chase uses the same name as an alias.

  43. This is my entertainment at church, although sometimes it makes me seriously uncomfortable. Like a couple months ago, when a man repeatedly used the word “climax” in a sacrament meeting talk. Of course, I’m frequently guilty of inadvertent double entendres, since I don’t always think before I talk. A while back, while complimenting a friend on a great musical number, I explained that I’d wanted to learn to play the flute but got kicked out of the band because I was “bad at blowing.” And as a very sheltered kid, I often didn’t know the precise meanings of slang words, so I recall using some pretty colorful slang at church youth events with no idea of what I was actually saying. Once I was teasing a guy I kind of liked at YSA activity and called him a certain p-word that I thought simply meant “wimp.” He was so offended that he walked away and didn’t talk to me for a few months. I also thought for the longest time that if somebody gave you a hard time they were “hitting on” you, and often complained about various people hitting on me. It was very confusing for everyone.

  44. child: Hold on dad. Just give me a sec.
    Dad: No more secs! let’s go.

    I first read a variation of this in one of Joni Hilton’s novels (As the Ward Turns, I think), and ended up accidentally using it myself later.

  45. We had a woman give a sacrament talk in which she changed the titles of popular TV shows to give them a Gospel-centered flavor. The one that I remember the most was “Touched by a Home Teacher”.

  46. The blurred out calves thing made me laugh hard. I can’t tell, is it meant to be a joke?

    I didn’t realize how sheltered I was until the comment section, more than half I have no idea what they mean.

  47. My wife has never heard anyone use the “C-word” before. I had to explain it to her and she simply said, “I’ll take your word for it.” She is oblivious to it’s existence as a derogatory/insulting word

  48. jaxjensen: clearly your wife hasn’t spent any time around working-class English

  49. Staying anonymous here... says:

    It is well-known in the industry that any publication should have at least one person, but preferably multiple people, on staff whose minds are in the gutter, or to say it more elegantly, who have a gift for understanding double entendre. This can be difficult at publications like the Ensign or New Era or Friend where theoretically the Church would prefer to have high-minded holy types writing and editing the publications, but it’s as important if not more so than at other publications, since intentional or unintentional gaffes or lapses in judgment can be especially problematic. (Think candlelight salad here, people.)

  50. This is a true story. In fast and testimony meeting, one sister cried throughout her entire time and apologized for being such a big boob. At the end the bishop, wanting to comfort her, announced to the congregation “don’t feel bad, Sister ________, we love big boobs”.

  51. The bishop of my youth used an extended metaphor about avoiding bad situations centered on the story of a young boy tempted to touch a dangerous animal. Unfortunately the result was repeating often and in different contexts that we should never “touch the snake.”

  52. Aussie Mormon says:

    APM: Just so I’m clear on this, is the C word being discussed here the one that ends in T or K?

  53. Whatchamacallit says:

    “The “C” word is a common short-hand for a vulgarity used for female genitalia.”

    So I’m this case the one that ends with a T. I’d be interested to know if the OP author thought of the one that ends in a K too.

  54. Aussie Mormon says:

    Thanks Whatchamacallit, Upon re-reading the original article I just read that description. I must have forgotten that it was in there while reading the comments.

  55. Aussie Mormon: yes, ending in T, used as frequently as “the,” “a,” and “and” by certain contingents of British society.

  56. Aussie Mormon says:

    Same in Australia. Though that might be the fault of the British.

  57. Left Field says:

    What does it say about me if I see ten dolphins? Well, maybe 9 and 1/2. On the other hand, I don’t know what some of you are talking about. With some trepidation, I had to Google “FAP.” But I’m probably just old and out of touch (so to speak…). At least old. Apparently the term has only been around a decade or two. At my age, that’s like last week. And I don’t remember when I last had a conversation on that subject with a group of my fellow old people, who do tend to use language they’re familiar with.

    Who thought that blurring would be a good idea? That really happened? They couldn’t find a stock photo of a hiker in the mountains wearing long pants? I just searched for images, and most of the photographs of mountain hikers showed people well within BYUI standards. Or they couldn’t just pop over to the Tetons and photograph an actual student in front of the mountains? Oh, wait… the “tetons” would have to be blurred out too, wouldn’t they?

    A former bishop of mine was once having a conversation with several high priests after priesthood meeting. He told a story about a member of our HP group who was “so upset that he used the C-word.” We must have looked a little startled. At least one of our number was a career Navy man who might even have heard a few worse C-words than the usual.

    It turned out that the “C-word” in question was “cr_p.”

  58. Aussie Mormon says:

    One of my friends told me how he accidentally freaked out one of his American mission companions by using the word damn.

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