The world of double entendre
February 27, 2004 9:07 AM   Subscribe

The recent post that revived the rude ‘Rainbow’ kids show sketch reminded me of the our (that is, British) obsession with comic double entendre - the ability to accept the filthiest things as long as there is a parallel innocuous interpretation. I think it is something to do our love for wordplay and subtext, our innate hypocrisy and the belief that sex is, in fact, rather naughty. Perhaps the prime example are the Julian and Sandy sketches that ran on the BBC Radio show ‘Beyond Our Ken’ from 1964-69. Over Sunday lunch, millions (there was ONLY the BBC in those days) listened to two very camp characters saying outrageous things in Polari (underground gay slang). A much earlier prime example is the great dirty joke (it’s the one in blue at the bottom of the page) that got comedian Max Miller (died in 1963) banned from the BBC for 5 years. A more recent case of innuendo is, of course, Mrs. Slocombe’s pussy. Of course the double entendre can also be unintentional.
posted by rolo (8 comments total)
Sorry, mistake there - 'Beyond Our Ken' was the show that preceded (1958-64) 'Round The Horne' - and it was 'Round The Horne' that featured Julian and Sandy.
posted by rolo at 9:33 AM on February 27, 2004

What? No mention of Finbar Saunders!
posted by toddst at 10:03 AM on February 27, 2004

Not to mention the happy day back around 1980 when two test cricketers came into a cosmic alignment:

"The bowler's Holding, the batsman's Willey."

posted by liam at 10:10 AM on February 27, 2004

If you see Kay...
posted by leapfrog at 10:36 AM on February 27, 2004

"He kisses her on the strikes, and she kisses him on the balls."
posted by kindall at 11:13 AM on February 27, 2004

That Polari link is fascinating.

I haven't seen "Queer Eye," but isn't there someone on the show who "zhuzzhes" hair? The Polari dictionary defines "riah shusher" as "hairdresser" - I find this etymologically suggestive.
posted by adamgreenfield at 11:25 AM on February 27, 2004

adamgreenfield- wow, yes, the Polari (palare) link is great for deciphering some of Morrissey's lyrics.
More on "zhuzh" here.
posted by obloquy at 12:11 PM on February 27, 2004

I think it is something to do our love for wordplay and subtext

Yep, you hit the nail on the head there, and in a bijoux postette that was nanti naff; nanti naff at all, omipalone.

Drifting off-topic slightly, I love Palare - it's really a sort of meta-argot, combining as many outsider slangs as possible into a lovely big queer muddle - there's Shelta in there, Romany gypsy stuff, lingua franca (as in nautical slang), plus a load of stuff lifted from criminal and theatrical cant.

Folk seem to be using it again a lot more these days, too - I overheard someone last night saying, "He was ugly, but had a massive bagadga!" as if it were 1950 once more. My absolute favourite term, though, is National Handbag for dole.

(A few more links on the topic - a self link, with apologies for being too lazy to cut 'n' paste.)
posted by jack_mo at 11:39 AM on February 28, 2004

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