Wellerisms


Wellerisms
   A form of verbal joke following the pattern ' - - - - - - , as - - said when
   ', or 'as said to '. The first part is a harmless cliche or *proverb, which is then undermined by a mocking or vulgar addition. Some examples of the genre are old, for example 'Every little helps, as the wren said when she pissed in the sea', recorded in 1602. It was popular among 19th-century working-class men, some examples being respectable, and others coarse: 'Neat but not gaudy, as the monkey said when he painted his tail sky-blue'; 'You must draw the line somewhere, as the monkey said, peeing across the carpet'. In the mid-20th there was a vogue for turning innocent phrases into innuendos by adding 'as the bishop said to the actress', or vice versa. The genre is named after Sam Weller in Dickens's The Pickwick Papers (1836). Archer Taylor, The Proverb (1962), 200-20; Florence E.
   ■ Baer, Folklore 94 (1983), 173-83.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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