meaning and origin of ‘little Audrey joke’

Of American-English origin, the term little Audrey joke denotes a joke featuring a little girl named Audrey, and involving a pun or double entendre; the punchline usually begins with the phrase but little Audrey just laughed and laughed because she knew and variants.

For example, this ‘little Audrey joke’ was published in the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) of Friday 3rd July 1936:

Little Audrey and her parents were walking along a very high cliff. With a mighty shove, Little Audrey pushed her father off the cliff. But, Little Audrey just laughed and laughedbecause she knew that he had on his light fall suit.

 

EARLY ‘LITTLE AUDREY JOKES’

 

Except for a few [cf. note], all the earliest ‘little Audrey jokes’ that I have found first appeared in Starbeams, a daily column of miscellaneous anecdotes and funny stories, published in The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Missouri) from January to April 1926; those ‘little Audrey jokes’ were unsigned, and the punchline often opened with but little Audrey just laughed and laughed for she knew.

These are the fifteen ‘little Audrey jokes’ that I have found, from The Kansas City Star, for the period of January to April 1926:

1: Sunday 3rd January 1926:

'little Audrey joke' - The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Missouri) 3 January 1926

HER MAMMA’S MISTAKE.

Little Audrey and her mamma were riding in the car, when all of a sudden there came a jolt and the mother cried: “Heavens! We have run over a poor man!”
But Audrey just laughed and laughed. She had looked closely at the victim’s watch—a handsome timepiece with diamonds, which had landed in her lap after being knocked from his pocket—and knew of course that he was not poverty stricken.

2: Monday 4th January 1926:

HER SUPERIORITY.

When Uncle Jared came over to see the folks he endeavored to be as amusing as possible, and told several stories at which the family indulged in loud and hearty cachinnation. But little Audrey just sat and laughed at their laughter, for she knew that neither the stories nor Uncle Jared were funny.

3: Wednesday 3rd February 1926:

HER OBJECTION.

The doctor was called to attend little Audrey who was ill. He prescribed for her a bottle of medicine which he insisted was pleasant to take. But Audrey steadfastly refused to imbibe it. She smiled slyly at the medicine man and declared: “Aw, you can’t fool me. Doe! I am fully aware that it is not as good as peach ice cream.”

4: Wednesday 10th February 1926:

HER MOTHER’S MISTAKE.

While little Audrey and her parents were out motoring the other day her father and another motorist coming along a side road each thought he could beat the other past the intersection of the tracks. Both were mistaken, and when it was just too late her mother screamed:
“Oh, our car will be wrecked and all of us killed!”
But little Audrey just laughed and laughed, for she knew the car was not theirs, but instead belonged to a drive-it-yourself company.

5: Tuesday 16th February 1926:

HIS IDENTITY.

Little Audrey and her parents were sitting out on the porch of their home the other evening, when suddenly her father cried:
“I declare, if that isn’t Ernest Torrence1, the famous movie actor, going by!”
But little Audrey just laughed and laughed, for she knew perfectly well that it was nobody but Secretary Jardine of the agricultural department.

(1 The Scottish actor Ernest Torrence (Ernest Torrance-Thomson – 1878-1933) appeared in many Hollywood films from the early 1920s until his death.)

6: Monday 1st March 1926:

HER NOTION.

Once little Audrey was attending a movie show wherein Wallace Beery2 was doing some of his devilment. The audience snarled and raged at him, but little Audrey just laughed and laughed for she knew he was not doing it because of the money there was in it but because he actually was bad.

(2 Wallace Beery (1885-1949) was a U.S. actor.)

7: Wednesday 3rd March 1926:

THE CAUSE.

Little Audrey was attending the picture show with her father and mother, when the former grumbled:
“My stars! How hot and stuffy the house is tonight!”
Little Audrey laughed, for she knew it was not the lack of ventilation that made the air disagreeable, but the hectic reputation of Rudolph Valentino3, who was appearing on the screen.

(3 Rudolph Valentino (Rodolfo Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguolla – 1895-1926) was an Italian-born U.S. actor.)

8: Monday 29th March 1926:

MORE LIKELY.

Little Audrey was out motoring with her cousin Wallace, who was considerable of a speed fiend. They approached a railroad crossing toward which a train was advancing rapidly.
“All I want is an even break,” said Wallace.
Thereat little Audrey laughed heartily, for she knew he was more likely to get a clean fracture.

9 & 10: Thursday 1st April 1926:

9:

A BACKWARD CHILD.

Little Audrey’s lesser brother, when the cat scratched him, uttered a naughty word, which greatly horrified his mother. While she was chiding him little Audrey just laughed and laughed, for she knew the child was very backward, for he was nearly 3 years old and that was the first swear word he had ever used, while it was recorded that the late Job cursed the day he was born.

10:

THE SIGN.

While little Audrey was touring by motor car up East with her parents her father pointed out on School street almost in the shadow of Columbia university a faded sign which said:
                                                           “WALK YOUR HORSES.”
Thereat little Audrey laughed and laughed, for she well knew that no one save Douglas Fairbanks4 in “The Thief of Bagdad” ever flew his horse.

(4 Douglas Fairbanks Sr (Julius Ullman – 1883-1939) was a U.S. actor and producer; The Thief of Bagdad is a 1924 U.S. silent film.)

11: Sunday 11th April 1926:

TO MAKE A HIT.

Little Audrey’s father was grumbling over the condition of the movies.
“How can they be improved,” he demanded, “to increase their popularity?”
Little Audrey laughed merrily, for she knew very well that all that was necessary to do was to match a fight between Wallace Beery and Noah Beery5.

(5 Noah Beery (1882-1946), Wallace Beery’s elder brother, was a U.S. actor.)

12: Friday 16th April 1926:

AUDREY’S ACCIDENT.

Two speeding motor cars collided. In one of them was our little friend, Audrey, and her parents. Audrey was thrown out and considerably injured. The accident happened almost in front of the office of a well known practitioner, and her father rushed in and brought out the doctor.
“Oh, save my little daughter!” cried the father. “Save her!”
But Audrey just laughed and laughed, for she knew her leg was broken and the doctor was an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist.

13: Tuesday 27th April 1926:

BIDDING HIM FAREWELL.

Little Audrey lately accompanied her parents to the Palace of Pictorial Pleasure. An especially salacious film was being shown, and her father growled and grumbled about it a good deal. Finally the announcement appeared on the screen,
                                                    “DANCE OF THE SEVEN VEILS.”
“Good-bye, Papa!” said little Audrey cutely. “This is no place for you.”

14: Wednesday 28th April 1926:

HIS SONG.

A neighbor lad was chanting this [?] somewhat unpretty song:
The birds are singing in [illegible]
And all the world seems [illegible]
The roses blush on every [illegible]
Oh, where’s your liver pad? [?]
Little Audrey listened to him and laughed and laughed, for liver pads had been out of fashion for so long that she had never before heard of such a thing.

15: Thursday 29th April 1926:

A man in the audience burst into a road [sic] of laughter. Little Audrey laughed, too, for she knew the man was an imbecile.

The ‘little Audrey jokes’, therefore, seem to have originally been a feature of The Kansas City Star in 1926, and it was perhaps because they were reprinted countrywide that their pattern became popular. For example, the following newspapers reprinted the above-quoted joke titled Her Mother’s Mistake (first published on Wednesday 10th February 1926), and specified that it had originally appeared in The Kansas City Star:
The Menasha Record (Menasha & Neenah, Wisconsin) of Wednesday 10th March 1926;
– the Pacific Transcript (Pacific, Missouri) of Friday 12th March 1926;
– the Hanford Morning Journal (Hanford, California) of Wednesday 31st March 1926;
The Freehold Transcript (Freehold, New Jersey) of Friday 2nd April 1926;
– the Newport Mercury (Newport, Rhode Island) of Saturday 3rd April 1926.

 

 

Note: Several ‘little Audrey jokes’ appeared in March and April 1926 in The Red and White: The Official Organ of the Drumright High School Published weekly by the class of Journalism in the Daily Derrick each Saturday—published in The Evening Derrick (Drumright, Oklahoma).

They may have been inspired by the earliest ‘little Audrey jokes’ first published in The Kansas City Star and reprinted in other newspapers.

The first of those jokes appeared in The Red and White of Saturday 20th March 1926:

LITTLE AUDREY
The Red and White Will Publish the Best Story Weekly.
(To be Submitted by the Students.)

This story was submitted by Walton Gillette, senior. We think it takes the cake for this week. Everybody knows Walton as “Munk” we have heard how he has been given the name but that would take to [sic] long and we haven’t space.
“Munk” says that his girl’s name is Audrey so he ought to know what he is talking about when he tells this story. We know that you all want to hear his story so here it is.
One time, not so long ago Little Audrey saw nine pretty little girls dressed in red and white basketball suits at the 4th district basketball tournament in Cushing.
Walking up to one of the pretty girls Little Audrey asked her why she was so downcast. The pretty girl told her that the D. H. S. girls basketball team had just been beaten by the Stillwater girls one point. Then Little Audrey just laughed and laughed because she knew all the time that the referee was from Stillwater.

The second of those ‘little Audrey jokes’ was published in The Red and White of Saturday 3rd April 1926:

LITTLE AUDREY
The Red and White Will Publish the Best Story Weekly.
(To be Submitted by the Students.)

The editor got real smart this week and write [sic] this story. We think this story is “quite the berries” because he wrote it himself. Clear the track here comes a hot story.
Little Audrey went to the ball game yesterday and sat down in the grand stand cold and shivering, by a man who was doing a good deal of hollering. Little Audrey didn’t understand every thing that was said. Soon the man said said [sic], “Did you see him catch that fly?”
Little Audrey just laughed and laughed at the man that would stop a good baseball game to catch a little old fly.

By Saturday 17th April 1926, the ‘little Audrey jokes’ had become a regular feature of The Red and White:

LITTLE AUDREY
The Red and White Will Publish the Best Story Weekly.
(To be Submitted by the Students.)

This week’s Little Audrey, story was written by Helen Black, junior. Helen or Rowena as her friends call her, always honors a Little Audrey story and those younger people who wish to become authors and write Little Audrey ask Rowena. Helen’s story is as follows:
Once upon a time Little Audrey was Charlestoning down Broadway when she saw a sign over a building that said “The Chocolate Pot.” Well! Little Audrey stopped there in the middle of the sidewalk and took six sucks off a lemon golf ball—and just laughed and laughedbecause she knew all the time, it didn’t have a spout, nor [?] lid or handles, and that it wasn’t a chocolate pot at all, it was just an old confectionary.

Finally, this is from The Red and White of Saturday 24th April 1926:

LITTLE AUDREY
The Red and White Will Publish the Best Story Weekly.
(To be Submitted by the Students.)

This week’s Little Audrey story was written by Leo Davis, captain-elect for football next year. “The Boy of Many Travels,” is its name. Leo is always ready to tell funny stories. We have many other stories on the list and will get to them next week. So now we will let you hear Leo’s story:
One day when Little Audrey lived in Tulsa, a little girl from Drumright visited her and they went out for a walk.
The little girl was so observant and suddenly exclaimed:
“Oh what a cute little bird house. See that pretty yellow one on that post, Little Audrey?”
Little Aurdey [sic] just laughed and laughed at that little girl because she was no [sic] dumb. Now Little Audrey just knew all the time that that wasn’t a bird house, it was a fire alarm box.

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