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December 16, 2012 10:58 AM   Subscribe

Rabble rabble walla rhubarb rhubarb?

So what do you do if you need crowd noises in a crowd scene but don't want to pay the extras for dialogue? You take a lesson from the old Greeks who thought all non-greeks sounded like "barbaros barbaros" and have them mumble nonsense phrases like rhubarb rhubarb[1].

This old theatre tradition in 1969 inspired British comedian Eric Sykes to make a short film in which the entire dialogue was just that one phrase, which got remade as a television special for Thames Television in 1980, which is now available on Youtube. Eric Sykes (previously), who passed away in July, was part of that British generation of comedians that also included Tony Hancock, Spike Milligan, Tommy Cooper and Hattie Jacques, with whom he starred in various BBC comedy series.

[1] Incidently the only vegetable indigenous to the UK, as it was first cultivated as a vegetable there, thouhg it had been long known as a laxative.
posted by MartinWisse (31 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:01 AM on December 16, 2012 [12 favorites]


Radda radda.
posted by curious nu at 11:26 AM on December 16, 2012


Hot water-bottle percolator. Peas and carrots.
posted by me3dia at 11:26 AM on December 16, 2012


Watching "Rhubarb Rhubarb" on YouTube is even better with the Herp Derp extension.
posted by Foosnark at 11:32 AM on December 16, 2012


Open pit barbeque sauce?
posted by benito.strauss at 11:35 AM on December 16, 2012


I had an old sound effects CD that had a crowd noise track. At one point, you could very clearly hear a man yellling "Hudda! Hudda hudda hudda!" It would always crack me up.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:39 AM on December 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Lorem ipsum...
posted by zoinks at 11:40 AM on December 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


(Amazingly pornographic description of what we do to the director if we had 5 minutes alone with him)
posted by The Whelk at 11:52 AM on December 16, 2012


I think that the Japanese use "peropero" for this. (I vaguely remember a joke sequence about it in Azumanga Daioh.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:57 AM on December 16, 2012


Pickles and beets, pickles and beets.
posted by not_on_display at 12:06 PM on December 16, 2012


"Standing out here yelling 'rabble rabble rabble' isn't going to help anything!"
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 12:13 PM on December 16, 2012


Rhubarb Barbara's beer bar [caution: German]
posted by moonmilk at 12:41 PM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is 'racka fracka' the common term for a string of curse words and foul language without actually cursing?
"Racka fracka fargin shniggle dunder pomp"
posted by bartleby at 12:43 PM on December 16, 2012


Most of my friends say it's "rassum frassum" but I insist that it's "rass'n frass'n".
posted by moonmilk at 12:44 PM on December 16, 2012


Technically it's "Waka Flocka".
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:52 PM on December 16, 2012


Mumbo jumbo!
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:55 PM on December 16, 2012


Haaha the bit where the preacher turns on god mode is hilarious!
posted by Joe Chip at 12:56 PM on December 16, 2012


I think that the Japanese use "peropero" for this.

I hope they don't. "Pera-pera" is "blabbity-blab," "pero-pero" is "lickety-lick."
posted by Nomyte at 1:00 PM on December 16, 2012


You're right, it was "perapera".
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:15 PM on December 16, 2012


Technically it's "Waka Flocka".

I like to think that Fozzy Bear was perpetually cursing at his audience.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:35 PM on December 16, 2012


Rooba rooba. (Just about the same as rhubarb.)
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 2:08 PM on December 16, 2012


"Hugger-mugger" was the phrase my high school drama teacher taught us.

But I always preferred to think up my own things to say, and one time I got a little too pleased with my own cleverness and wanted to make sure the people in the front row heard me. But apparently I had perfect vocal projection even at the age of 14, and thus I inadvertently stole a somewhat pivotal scene in the school play.

Mr. Lein was forgiving, but got a little stricter about making sure people only said "hugger-mugger".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:17 PM on December 16, 2012


Incidently the only vegetable indigenous to the UK, as it was first cultivated as a vegetable there

That doesn't make it indigenous to the UK.

There's actually a fascinating and relevant coincidence here: On the one hand, "barbaros", foreign, is supposed to derive from the Greek thought that foreigners' speech just sounded like "bar bar bar"—a bunch of nonsense. On the other, "rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb" is used as background nonsense speech-like chatter.

And, in fact, the word "rhubarb" comes from "barbaros"! According to the OED, it's derived from rha + barbaros, "foreign rha". Rha is rhubarb—it's named after the Volga.

The non-foreign, native rha was rhaponticum, rha from the pontic.

Rhubarb being named after the Volga doesn't mean it's not also indigenous to the UK, but being cultivated there before anything else sure doesn't mean it is.

I leave you with Rhabarber Barbara.
posted by kenko at 4:30 PM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Buddha rhubarb butter?
posted by jferg at 4:34 PM on December 16, 2012


Woozle wuzzle?
posted by The Whelk at 4:39 PM on December 16, 2012




Hamburglar Urges Senate Subcommittee To 'Robble Robble Robble'
posted by Skot at 4:54 PM on December 16, 2012


We used to use "schmer" over and over.
posted by susanbeeswax at 9:18 PM on December 16, 2012


That doesn't make it indigenous to the UK.

Take it up with Radio 4's the Food Programme, as that's where I heard that claim on Sunday, which led to a Wikipedia checkup and ultimately this post.

And, in fact, the word "rhubarb" comes from "barbaros"!

Even better shown in the Dutch word, rabarber, which of course is also used in the theatre.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:40 PM on December 16, 2012


Hubbub hubbub. @1:55
posted by attercoppe at 11:47 PM on December 17, 2012


Warning: the rhubarb video has since been taken down. That's what I get for favouriting stuff for coming back later.
posted by spamguy at 6:13 AM on January 8, 2013


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