My Favorite Barneyisms

There are many who are weighing in on the passing of Don Knotts, American funnyman whose iconic character of small-town deputy Barney Fife memorialized the earnest efforts of all downtrodden, skinny, bug-eyed low men on the totem pole everywhere who have ever longed to make a difference and be taken seriously.

And of course, many are waxing eloquently, much better than I ever could. Some good tributes can be found here and here. I thought my humble contribution to the cause would be to list some of my favorite “Barneyisms.” I just hope I can get through these without having to take a hit off my asthma inhaler:

  • “Now here at the Rock we have two rules. Memorize them until you can say them in your sleep. Rule number one: obey all rules. Rule number two: no writing on the walls.”
  • “Gun-drawing practice, ten minutes every day. If I ever have to use this baby, I want to teach it to come to papa in a hurry.”
  • “Well, I guess to sum it up, you could say there’s three reasons why there’s so little crime in Mayberry. There’s Andy, and there’s me, and (patting his gun) baby makes three.”
  • “Nip it in the bud. You go read any book you want on child discipline and you’ll find every one of them is in favor of bud-nipping.”
  • Andy: “Hey Barn, what if they was to ask you if you could sing a cappella, what would you do? Barney: “Why, I’d do it! (snapping fingers in rhythm) “A cappella, a cappella…well, I don’t remember all the words.”
  • “If there’s anything that upsets me it’s having people say I’m sensitive.”
  • (in the context of not making others jealous with his intelligence) “Listen, an IQ can be a mixed blessing sometimes. Some people want it and can’t get it. I got it and have to get rid of it. Life’s funny that way, you know?”
  • “I’m a man of the world, Andy. Why, I’ve been to Raleigh!

These are only scratching the surface. How about chiming in with a few favorite Barneyisms of your own to memorialize a man who has graced us all with the gift of laughter.

  1. Ed

    I can’t remember these word for word …

    “Boy, giraffes are selfish.”

    “Why don’t you go up to the old folk’s home and wax the steps!?”

    Smith Brothers Institution (meant The Smithsonian)

    Compelsions (compulsions)

  2. scott

    Sung to “Clementine”

    In a jail house down in Dixie
    Fighting crime and saving lives
    Lived a sheriff and his buddy
    Pistol-packin’ Barney Fife

    Then one day there came a ridin’
    Two bad men to rob a bank
    But Fife was tricky, a dead-eye dickey
    Now their locked up in the tank

    (Andy has snuck in behind Barney, at this point in the song, he buts in:)
    Oh my Barney, Oh my Barney
    Had a jail and couldn’t lock it
    Had a bullet for his pistol
    Had to keep it in his pocket

    (Barney gets cheesed and storms out)


  3. mike the eyeguy

    Ed and Scott,

    Well done, both of you! Come on everybody, let’s have some more!

    What amazes me about that show (and others from the sixties) is the intelligence and wit evident in the writing. Today’s sit-coms seemed so dumbed down and vulgar in comparison.

  4. David U

    Talking about Ernest T Bass: “He’s a NUTT!” šŸ™‚

  5. Hoots Musings

    His lone bullet in his pocket.

    Also, when he and Gomer went looking for Ernest T. Bass in the woods and their code word was Hooteewho…thus my blog name and handle…Hooteewho.

  6. mike the eyeguy


    Barney and Ernest T had some memorable exchanges. Here’s the typical blustery Barn with his solution to the Ernest T problem:

    “All I have to do is give him a couple of karate chops, flip him into a corner and he’d get up and head back for the mountains, never to be seen again.”

  7. mike the eyeguy


    Yes, that’s good, I remember that now! So that’s how you got your nom de plume!

    Didn’t Barney’s gun go off one time in the holster? I seem to recall Andy upbraiding him like a child for putting the bullet in his gun and not in his pocket where it belonged.

  8. David U

    I loved Andy’s response to your quote of Barney talking about what he would do to Earnest T.

    Andy: “He’ll kill ya”. šŸ™‚

  9. Lynda Bee

    I know it’s been done – but “Nip It – Nip It – Nip It! Says it all šŸ™‚

  10. mike the eyeguy


    How about “Nip it” sung to the tune of Devo’s “Whip It?” I can still see myself in the early 80s walking across the front lawn at dear ol’ HU (Hail!) humming that little ditty.

  11. Lynda Bee

    oh how we date ourselves!

    This is goofy as all get out – but every time I hear that song, I think of Sue Garner, Teri Heffington and Beth Hurd knocking on my door at Stephens – wearing bowls on their heads and singing that song. Man we were weird – and bored too I guess!

    Hey – keep me in your prayers – carpal tunnel surgery tomorrow.. :-)too much keyboard banging!

    See ya!

  12. mike the eyeguy


    I will say a prayer for you and your surgeon–sorry you’re going through that, but I hope you get some relief.

    I remember those names you mentioned just not the faces. Although the “bowl heads” I can picture quite well!

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