Thursday, June 25, 2009

At long last, a reader! (Part 2: "little Audrey")

After the previous culture-fest (as if), it's down to the nitty-gritty for this second part of Malcolm's response to the request from Anonymous:
Can you say more about "little Audrey"? That one sounds juicy.
It's worth looking back at what Bertie Smyllie wrote:
“Haw-Haw” always acted on me as a tonic. Either he made me violently angry, or else he made me, like little Audrey, just “laff and laff”.
It's music hall!

It's the kind of variety that kept "the end of the pier" shows and working-men's clubs going for year after year. The kind of thing that the BBC tried to censor out of radio comedy, and the likes of the Goon Show tried to smuggle back in.

"Little Audrey"

Eric Partridge reckoned
that the catchphrase
Little Audrey laughed and laughed and laughed 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... It enjoyed a 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 comedians.
Cue said Leslie Sarony (né Leslie Legge Frye of Surbiton, which is a laugh in itself):

The "little Audrey" example commonly cited would never have appeared at that time on any Radio programme, for the BBC eschewed anything that might conceivably be an advertisement. It helps here to know the names of obsolete radio manufacturers, and to note the pun on "for Aunty":
Little Audrey walked into the bathroom, where her uncle was bathing while listening to the radio.
"What's that there?" asked little Audrey.
"It's a Bush," said her uncle.
Little Audrey laughed and laughed and laughed, because she knew it was Ferranti.
That can be as (for want of a better word) "funny" when the two trade names are reversed.

At some stage little Audrey crossed the Atlantic, to become an anodyne and epicene cartoon character for Paramount:

Since all the "Little Audrey" 'toons date from after 1947, they are irrelevant to Bertie Smyllie's article. Sphere: Related Content

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