Nonsense words in Rick and Morty

A few people have recommended the Adult Swim cartoon Rick and Morty to me. I haven’t watched it yet, but based on this clip (and glowing reviews) I definitely will. Transcript below the video:

*

Today, on How They Do It: plumbuses. Everyone has a plumbus in their home. First, they take the dinglebop, and they smooth it out with a bunch of schleem. The schleem is then repurposed for later batches. They take the dinglebop and they push it through the grumbo, where the fleeb is rubbed against it. It’s important that the fleeb is rubbed, because the fleeb has all of the fleeb juice. Then a schlami shows up, and he rubs it and spits on it. They cut the fleeb. There’s several hizzards in the way. The blamfs rub against the chumbles. And the ploobis and grumbo are shaved away. That leaves you with a regular old plumbus.

‘I always wondered how, uh, plumbuses got made.’

I have no context for what’s going on here, but it’s a juicy morsel on its own peculiar terms. The neologisms used are: plumbus, dinglebop, schleem, grumbo, fleeb, schlami, hizzard, blamf, chumble, ploobis. How some of these should be spelled is debatable: fleeb or flebe; blamfs or blamphs; ploobis or plubis; schleem, shleem, or even shleme? And so on.

Some of the made-up words have suggestive or anatomical overtones (hizzard: gizzard; schleem: spleen; ploobis: pubis); others are less overtly connotative. The allusive balancing act is intensified by surreal, borderline repellent visuals offset by the cheerily simple-science presentation, while the slightly erratic pauses in narration add to the complex effect. It’s a bit like Jim Woodring having a SpongeBob dream.

[h/t @Oddfodder]

5 Responses to Nonsense words in Rick and Morty

  1. […] shared a scene from Rick and Morty that contained a series of nonsense words like plumbus, schleem, and blamf. It was probably […]

  2. Dan L-K says:

    It’s probably not obvious outside the US, but the tone of that clip is a dead-on parody of the TV show “How It’s Made,” which airs stateside on the Science Channel and is notable for the exact “cheerily simple-science presentation” you point out here. Watching it often has the soporific effect of a middle-school science film, usually despite the inherent interest of the subject matter.

    • Stan Carey says:

      Thanks for that insight. I didn’t know whether the scene was parodying the pop-science TV genre in general or a particular US show. I just watched a clip of How It’s Made on YouTube and the similarity was immediately obvious.

      • Dan L-K says:

        The folks behind Rick and Morty have a pretty sharp ear for satire, it’s true.

        (Additional fun fact about this particular episode: it’s made up of various clips like this one, where the characters are channel-surfing alien TV stations. All of those clips were improvised by the voice actors and animated afterwards – so not only is that a spot-on parody, it was done entirely off the cuff.)

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