Little Audrey laughed and laughed

Posted by R. Berg on February 21, 2005

In Reply to: Little Audrey laughed and laughed posted by James Briggs on February 21, 2005

: I've had a request for help with the derivation of this phrase. I can't help, in fact I've never heard of it! Any ideas? Thanks

From Eric Partridge, Dictionary of Catch Phrases: American and British, from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day:
"little Audrey laughed and laughed and laughed (-and)" has been current since the late 1920s, and is applied to a fit of laughter arising for a reason either inadequate or not immediately apparent to others. 'There was a longish series of letters about this in The Times two years ago' (Simon Levene, 1977). It enjoyed very considerable popularity c. 1933-39 and orig. formed the 'lead-in to a frightful (and often scabrous) pun . . . perhaps in a Radio series by Leslie Sarony or some other such comedian.' To exemplify: One day, little Audrey, smug and knowing, wandered into the bathroom while her uncle was having a bath [and listening to the radio]. Seeing the symbol of his masculinity, she asked what it was. Her embarrassed uncle replied that it was his Bush, a well-known make of radio in those days, and little Audrey laughed and laughed, because she knew it was Ferranti, another make of radio: pun on "for Aunty" ' (Ramsey Spencer, 1977). 'I remember there _were_ "little Audrey" jokes, and probably Leslie Sarony capitalized on them' (Barry Took, 1977).

(A quotation mark is missing somewhere up there. It's missing in the book, too.)