Posted by Smokey Stover on February 21, 2005
In Reply to: Little Audrey laughed and laughed posted by R. Berg 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, "A Dictionary of Catch Phrases":
: "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.)
During World War II Little Audrey jokes enjoyed a wave of popularity in the U.S. I only remember one of them. It involves the blackout, which was enforced in the U.S. as well as in the U.K. Little Audrey was sitting on the couch with her boy friend when the blackout siren sounded, and all the lights went out. "Gee," said the boy friend, "I can't even see my hand in front of my face." Little Audrey laughed and laughed. She knew his hand wasn't in front of his face! SS