- Steve Etheridge, ESPN Playbook
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As our own network will have you know, the perks of sharing a name with a famous athlete are vastly outnumbered by the frustrations. How can you make a name for yourself when someone else has already staked claim in your identity?
It’s something that’s stymied comedian Jon Daly since he was a little kid, when the novelty of being a name-twin with an extraordinarily popular golfer was gone before he lost his baby teeth.
“I still get people sending me links all the time, like, ‘Hey, look, John Daly is driving a golf ball across Niagara Falls,’” says Daly, who, along with being a successful sketch and improv comic, is appearing in a growing number of television and film roles.
Recognizing that the name association is something he’ll always have to live with, Daly has launched an ambitious campaign to seize the name and subvert it for his own benefit.
A new website he launched Monday, Jon Daly is John Daly, invites Internet people of all shapes and operating systems to share pictures of Daly the comedian dressed as Daly the golfer, so that the former will eventually replace the latter in Google Image searches. The more links that appear with his image, the more Google’s algorithms will recognize them as legitimate and promote them in results.
Sporting a keg-size gut and enough facial prosthetics to fool his own mother, the snapshots are hardly complimentary, but Daly claims he took them with nothing but affection for his homonymous counterpart.
“I did it with pure love, with intention of relentlessly making him more famous. I want nothing more than to be his hype man,” explains Daly. “And even though my pictures are unflattering, you can’t beat his. His pictures are funnier than mine, and I didn’t want to indict him any more than he indicts himself.”
Daly’s role as the golfer’s bastardized doppelganger has manifested itself both on the Internet and in the real world — that is, if you can classify Comic-Con as the real world. He appeared at the nerd mecca on Sunday in full Long John regalia for a live taping of "Comedy Bang Bang." Daly has also hijacked the PGA cult hero’s catchphrase, “Grip it and rip it,” on Twitter, where, widely hashtagged, it has been snowballing in recognition of his efforts.
So after many years of being the funny guy who shared his name with a golfer, Daly is taking very small but significant steps toward turning the tables.
“It’s a cathartic thing to be like, ‘You know what, I’m Jon Daly. I’m taking my own name back,’” he admits. “I’m basically trying to reverse this, so that maybe someday when he introduces himself, people are like, 'Oh, the comedian?'”
That day might be far down the road, but he openly invites the golfer to help him along the way.
“I wanna reach out to him as a fan to come do a "Funny Or Die" video or a TV show with me. The next move is his. No matter how much or little time he has, I wanna bring him into the comedy world.”
Consider our fingers crossed. It’s time that a new generation bear witness to the occasionally astonishing, always enigmatic, John “Wild Thing” Daly.