boom boom

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Nora Gale, Jan 7, 2008.

  1. Nora Gale

    Nora Gale Senior Member

    Spanish / Spain
    Hi, everybody!
    An English friend of mine has written a short-story and sent it for me to have a look at it. There's a sentence that puzzles me, and I'd like to be able to understand it without having to ask him. It's a boy-meets-girl story in a library. The girl is rather bookish, the boy isn't, but he pretends to be, because he likes the girl. They engage in conversation and she says that she'd give him some stories by Scott Fitzgerald, her favourite author, for him to read. Later on, they make an appointment to comment the stories over a coffee. They're talking about the stories, and then he says: "I've just thought of something terrible that you could say: 'Scott Fitzgerald will get you nowhere, boom boom' ". Could anybody help me understand the meaning of boom boom here?
    Thanks in advance!
  2. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    I've never heard this before. Perhaps this is an exclamative slang that our English friends use but I've never heard it in Canada.
  3. Rhiannnon Senior Member

    I have seen it in some other novel, and it meant sth like "ok, this is a joke", but I am not sure here...
  4. Suehil

    Suehil Medemod

    Tillou, France
    British English
    "Boom boom" used to be used by comedians (I think in the Music Hall) at the end of a joke. It signalled the laugh. So yes, it does sort of mean 'that was a joke, laugh now'
  5. Nora Gale

    Nora Gale Senior Member

    Spanish / Spain
    A million thanks all of you for your fast and accurate contributions. It definitely makes sense!
  6. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    English English
    It's a well-known expression in British English, meaning That was a joke ~ laugh! When I was growing up there was a kiddies' TV 'personality' called Basil Brush ~ he was a fox hand puppet. His catchphrase was Boom! Boom! whenever he told one of his extremely lame jokes.
  7. Nora Gale

    Nora Gale Senior Member

    Spanish / Spain
    Thanks for the background, ewie! I really appreciate it!
  8. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    English English
  9. PMS-CC Senior Member

    In AE, a similar three or four syllable onomatopoeic phrase ("ba dum dum," "ba dum dum dum," or --my favorite variant--"ba dum dum tshhhh") is used in the same manner.

    Often, a person will gesture as if they are playing the drums when they say "ba dum dum," especially when commenting on the general quality of another person's lame joke or pun.
  10. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    English English
    I like it, PMS ~ but do you actually say 'ba dum dum' or is that a sort of drumming noise? Incidentally, as Suehil said above, I'm not at all sure that (the writers behind) Basil Brush invented Boom boom, but the character certainly popularized it in the 1970s, and, to judge from the website, is ~ as they might say ~ 'delighting a whole new generation of little folk' with it.
  11. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London but from Yorkshire
    English - England
    The Oxford English Dictionary comments on boom-boom: Used (as a following tag or as a response) to draw attention to a joke or pun, especially one the speaker or writer regards as weak, obvious, or laboured. Popularized as the catchphrase of ‘Basil Brush’, a puppet fox voiced by the actor Ivan Owen (1927-2000) which first appeared on British television in 1963.

    I always assumed that the expression came from the circus and pantomime and maybe also the music hall, where the noise created by a clown falling on his posterior is commonly represented by a pair of loud drum beats following each other in rapid succession.
  12. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    English English
    I thought maybe Brewer's 20th Century Phrase & Fable would have it. Sadly my 1991 edition only gives
    boom boom. In US Black slang of the 1940s, a cowboy movie and hence also a gun.
  13. PMS-CC Senior Member

    Both. :) Here's an example in print (title of post is "ba-dum-DUM"):

    Of course, the origin of the phrase comes from the old Vaudeville tradition of punctuating the end of bad jokes with a drum sting or "rimshot".

    Another example of the phrase comes from an article about the surviving Munchkins getting their star on Hollywood Boulevard.

    "...I had the audience in the palm of my hand. That shows you how big the audience was," he said with a grin, adding a "ba-dum-bum" rimshot sound for emphasis.

    Source: LA Times,0,4950938,full.story?coll=la-tot-topstories

    I would be very surprised if "boom boom" was entirely unrelated.
  14. Nora Gale

    Nora Gale Senior Member

    Spanish / Spain
    Wow, that's sooo much more than I could ask for! Thanks again! :)
  15. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Just a PS, Nora Gale.

    You also need to know that the standard phrase is "Flattery will get you nowhere" - meaning "however much you flatter me, you're not getting me into bed".

    The sentence is a joke because it substitutes "Scott Fitzgerald" for "flattery" - and the boy is using Scott Fitzgerald with, presumably, exactly that intention.
  16. Nora Gale

    Nora Gale Senior Member

    Spanish / Spain
    I didn't know that phrase. Now it all falls into place, first the pun, then the boom boom.
    Thanks, Loob!

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