An Ode to the Tummlers March 13, 2020 5:27 AM   Subscribe

Mefi's Own Jessamyn is quoted in the New York Times in We Forgot About the Most Important Job on the Internet, an opinion piece by Mefi's Own Annalee Newitz. Jessamyn West, a librarian who was a moderator for 10 years at MetaFilter, said the job is like what Catskill entertainers of the mid-20th century called a tummler, “the person in the room who isn’t quite the M.C. but walks around and makes sure you’re doing OK.”
posted by adrianhon to MetaFilter-Related at 5:27 AM (11 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

Any way we can read this without running into the NYT paywall? :-(
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:39 AM on March 13, 2020

Here it is on!
posted by adrianhon at 6:58 AM on March 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

It gives me a funny little frisson to see “AO3” in the NYT! Thanks for sharing.
posted by eirias at 7:07 AM on March 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

It is rare that I encounter a new word and one that is so useful. I have met Jessamyn and can confirm she makes a fine tummler.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:39 AM on March 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

That's a much nicer translation of tummler then I was familiar with. When I was a kid I had a friend who's dad spoke Yiddish and he would often call us tummlers (usually when we were making a lot of noise in the basement playing the NES). When I asked my friend what that meant he told me : "Oh my dad is just calling us shit disturbers in a polite way."
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:48 AM on March 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Hey neato! I have known Annalee for a long time and she even hosted a panel I was on (with longtime Flickr moderator Heather Champ) about moderation stuff at SXSW. Here's a photo of us from 2008. The idea of tummleing though isn't mine it's Healther Gold's who along with Kevin Marks and Deb Schultz, did a podcast called which was really great.
posted by jessamyn (temp) at 9:52 AM on March 13, 2020 [6 favorites]

Finally I have a name for my vocation.
posted by notquitemaryann at 10:06 AM on March 13, 2020 [4 favorites]

She does not look 90
posted by growabrain at 11:48 PM on March 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

The only think I know about tummlers is that Danny Kaye was one.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:47 PM on March 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

The Yiddish word טומל ("tuml") means something like "a noisy disturbance". I suppose it may be related to the English word "tumult". A tummler is someone who creates a tuml, which I would hate, but which was apparently considered so desirable Back In Di Alte Heim that professional tummlers were engaged for wedding festivities &c. You know when the dwarves visited Bilbo and ate up his food while singing and tossing plates around and so forth? Tummlers.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:48 AM on March 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

A few years back at a Bavarian beer joint in Nanjing, big party for my staff. A really friendly woman in liederhosen is walking around, offering cheers to our table, big smile. "Where are you from?"
"Wow, this must be really strange being here then, are you staff?"
"Just here to have a good time! Prost!"
She was great. But later on she was on stage with the band, and I realised her answer to my question was an artful dodge. She was a tummler, now I understand it exactly.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:44 AM on March 20, 2020 [2 favorites]

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