Green’s Dictionary of Slang

holy show n.

also holy spectacle, show

(Aus./Irish) the cause of a scandal or embarrassment; esp. in phr. make a holy show of oneself, to make an exhibition of oneself.

[UK]R.F. Walond Paddiana I 54: Faith, ye’re making a holy show of yourself wid your pickles!
[UK]Lloyd’s Wkly Newspaper 17 Aug. 12/2: he was a ‘holy show;’ he was covered all over with fly paper, or what are technically called Catch-’em-alive Os’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Feb. 11/1: The smallest ‘snob’ in Ultimo / Of you could make a holy show! / If, like a cat, you had nine lives, / Not once would you put up your ‘fives.’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 14 Mar. 11/1: People are having a good grin over the Mayor’s magnificent £25 prize for the man who ‘most distinguishes himself in the Soudan.’ [...] But the gorgeous Chief Magistrate of this sunny city might just as well have offered £25,000, and not made a ‘holy show’ of himself and his entouràge; for who is going to adjudge the winner of his splendid bounty?
[US]Lantern (N.O.) 12 Mar. 3: He en’ ter a reception given by de Venus Club [...] an’ got tight an’ made er holy show uv hisself.
[Aus](?) H. Lawson ‘How Steelman Told His Story’ in Roderick (1972) 222: The chances are that the bailiff will get into your house [...] and make a holy show of you before the neighbours.
[US]C.L. Cullen Tales of the Ex-Tanks 138: There I was Count Paris, and a holy show, all right. [Ibid.] 253: He would have looked a chump had he been entirely sober; drunk he was a show.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 16 Oct. 2/7: The kid was goin’ queer like / Makin’ up an holey show.
[US]J.W. Carr ‘Words from Northwest Arkansas’ in DN III:ii 141: holy spectacle, n. Unseemly spectacle. ‘He made a holy spectacle of himself by going into the federal courts and attempting to interfere with the lawsuit brought by the railroad company.’.
[Aus]L. Stone Jonah 101: ’Ave a bit o’ common, an’ don’t make a ’oly show of yerself ’cause yer lost a dollar.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 5 Nov. 3/2: The old cove’s whiskers made a ’oly show, / But I was narked because of wot Bill said.
[Scot]‘Ian Hay’ First Hundred Thousand (1918) 277: The London press is [...] making a holy show of itself.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 250: He hoped she had nice weather in Rostrevor. – Gorgeous, she said. Look at the holy show I am. Lying out on the strand all day.
[US]F. Sullivan ‘Language of the Roosevelt Haters’ in Brookhouser These Were Our Years (1959) 381: She ought to stay at home [...] instead of gallivanting around the country making a holy show of herself.
[Ire]‘Myles na gCopaleen’ Best of Myles (1968) 32: Pay me 25s instantly or I will make a holy show of you. Be quick or you’re for it.
[US]S. Bellow Augie March (1996) 53: And you shouldn’t have sat there and let her make a holy show of herself.
[Ire] ‘The Terrible Baisht’ in Dublin Mag. Oct–Dec. n.p.: If Hollyhocks saw us talking our little tint it’s a scandal he’d be making of it. He’s a holy show for remarking on women drinking [BS].
[Ire]C. Brown Down All the Days 117: Sit down, woman, and don’t be making a holy show of yourself before the whole street!
[Ire]M. Verdon Shawlies, Echo Boys, the Marsh and the Lanes 52: The shame of it! Making a holy show of us in front of the neighbours.
[Ire]Irish Times 26 April n.p.: Has anybody noticed the state of the new £5 note lately [...] only a year after the Central Bank rather rudely stamped the £5 sign on Mother McAuley’s forehead, the note has become something of a holy show [BS].
[Ire]J. O’Connor Salesman 154: You fall around the place like a fool. You let them all make a holy show of you. I hope you’re proud.
[UK]K. Sampson Outlaws (ms.) 62: But there’s no need for her to make a holy show of us in front of Nina Perkins-West.
[UK]K. Sampson Killing Pool 107: He’s brought his brief, he’s brought photographers and he’s about to make a holy show of our entire team.