Created By: love1993 on July 5, 2012 Last Edited By: CaveCat on May 13, 2013
Troped

Miming The Cues

A person acts out words in front of someone behind another person's back in order to instruct what they want that person to say.

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Sometimes, a person gets caught in a situation where he or she wants to say something to someone else, but doesn't want to be the one to say it, mainly because they're too embarrassed to show themselves or only one of their friends can speak for them. So, they perform a game of Charades behind another person's back to tell their friend what to say to that person. This is obviously so they don't attract the attention of the person or people the friend is trying to speak to. Hilarity often ensues as the friend sometimes misinterprets the gestures that his pal is signaling towards him.

This is a sibling trope to Earpiece Conversation.

Can lead to Nonverbal Miscommunication.

Compare Hand Signals.

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • In Yubisaki Milk Tea Yoshinori do it a pair of time to Minamo, when other people ask after his alter-ego Yuki. When his best friend Wataru ask, a pair of crossed fingers mean "Don't tell him anything". While an open hand and a neutral face is used, when Nobuko shall know "Thanks. I'll go later (as Yuki)".

Film
  • In Lilo & Stitch, Nani gives signals to Lilo when the social worker, Cobra Bubbles, asks Lilo how well Nani is taking care of her. All goes well until Lilo misinterprets Nani cheering her on by holding up her fist as beating her.
  • Near the end of Brave, Elinor has to perform gestures towards her daughter, Merida, so she can deliver a speech to keep the peace between the clans. She is unable to do it herself as she has transformed into a bear.

Literature
  • Used in a Lord Darcy story, The Napoli Express. Lord Darcy was undercover, so he couldn't investigate the murder directly. When the official investigator is getting advice from Master Sean, Darcy uses hand signals to pass suggestions on to Sean, who then talks about what Darcy would do were he there.

Live-Action TV
  • In one episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Zack has to fill in for his brother for an interview when Cody accidentally dyes his hair red and is too embarrassed to show himself to the interviewer. He tries to act out the words to tell Zack what to say, but he ends up misinterpreting every signal that Cody sends out to him.
  • Blackadder: In the first episode Baldrick & Percy help Edmund by hinting how many and who he should claim to have killed, as he reports his killings to Prince Harry.
  • Parodied on Chuck, where Chuck tries to instruct Captain Awesome on the lie to tell to his wife about where he's been all night. As Awesome is a Bad Liar, he completely misunderstands what Chuck is trying to say and spirals into absurdity.
    Ellie: Why didn't you call?
    Awesome: Um... After I got off the overnight, I, I decided I needed to clear my head. So, I went for a run. In Griffith Park. No cell phones there. So... I'm running and, I just, I heard something, in a tree, and there's a, there's a cat, a hurt cat, I go to see if it needed medical attention, then I realized, ... ... ... It's a bear. Yeah, yeah! The cat's a bear! It's a bear and it jumps out at me and it attacks and it's like it's angry at me for some reason this bear RAAARHGH Yeah! And I... cut off its head! ... Yeah, babe, I had to decapitate the bear. Self defense. In order to survive. I'm just glad you weren't there to see it, it was really grizzly.
    Ellie: Do you honestly expect me to believe this?
  • An episode of Power Rangers Wild Force features Danny signalling the plot of a book Max told Alyssa he had read. Parodied in Linkara's History of the Power Rangers when he shows the clip and point out Danny's signals make no sense.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The episode "Teacher's Pet" (the one with the praying mantis lady.) Buffy didn't do her homework, so when the teacher asks her to explain how ants communicate, Willow has to help her. She gets the mime for "touch" right, but she misinterprets "smell" as "B.O." The teacher, without even turning around, asks if Willow has anything else to say.

Western Animation
  • A variation of this trope shows up in the Mr. Bogus episode "Class Clown Bogus". Tommy is struggling to come up with the right answer to a math problem, when in comes Bogus who is able to help out, by writing the correct answer on the blackboard directly behind the teacher, allowing Tommy to give the correct answer.

Community Feedback Replies: 13
  • July 5, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Blackadder: In the first episode Baldrick & Percy help Edmund by hinting how many and who he should claim to have killed, as he reports his killings to Prince Harry.
  • July 6, 2012
    PaulA
    Sibling trope of Earpiece Conversation.
  • July 6, 2012
    DannebrogSpy
    In Yubisaki Milk Tea Yoshinori do it a pair of time to Minamo, when other people ask after his alter-ego Yuki. When his best friend Wataru ask, a pair of crossed fingers mean "Don't tell him anything". While an open hand and a neutral face is used, when Nobuko shall know "Thanks. I'll go later (as Yuki)".
  • July 6, 2012
    HugoLuman
    Do we already have this? I'm not sure. If not, why not?

    In Lilo And Stitch, Nani does this when Lilo is talking to the "social worker," trying not to leave a bad impression with child services.
  • July 7, 2012
    surgoshan
    • Parodied on Chuck, where Chuck tries to instruct Captain Awesome on the lie to tell to his wife about where he's been all night. As Awesome is a Bad Liar, he completely misunderstands what Chuck is trying to say and spirals into absurdity.
      Ellie: Why didn't you call?
      Awesome: Um... After I got off the overnight, I, I decided I needed to clear my head. So, I went for a run. In Griffith Park. No cell phones there. So... I'm running and, I just, I heard something, in a tree, and there's a, there's a cat, a hurt cat, I go to see if it needed medical attention, then I realized, ... ... ... It's a bear. Yeah, yeah! The cat's a bear! It's a bear and it jumps out at me and it attacks and it's like it's angry at me for some reason this bear RAAARHGH Yeah! And I... cut off its head! ... Yeah, babe, I had to decapitate the bear. Self defense. In order to survive. I'm just glad you weren't there to see it, it was really grizzly.
      Ellie: Do you honestly expect me to believe this?
  • July 7, 2012
    Antigone3
    Used in a Lord Darcy story (I think it was The Napoli Express, but the book isn't handy). Lord Darcy was undercover, so couldn't investigate the murder directly. When the official investigator is getting advice from Master Sean, Darcy uses hand signals to pass suggestions on to Sean, who then talks about what Darcy would do were he there.
  • July 8, 2012
    PaulA
    ^ Yes, that's in "The Napoli Express". (I do have the book handy.)
  • July 11, 2012
    PaulA
    It should be mentioned that we do already have a Hand Signals page. I think this has legs as a subtrope, but there are a lot of examples of this that are currently listed there.
  • July 11, 2012
    AgProv
    Basil Fawlty to Polly, behind Sybil's back, to get her to lie that the reason why she is carrying nearly ten times her weekly pay is because she wo it on a horse. Basil does not want Sybil to know he himself won it by gambling. Hilarity ensues.
  • July 15, 2012
    LordCirce
    I would suggest the names Behind The Back Mime or Backseat Charades.

  • July 15, 2012
    foxley
    Can lead to Nonverbal Miscommunication. That page contains several examples of where this goes horribly wrong.
  • July 16, 2012
    CaveCat
    An episode of Power Rangers Wild Force features Danny signalling the plot of a book Max told Alyssa he had read. Parodied in Linkara's History of the Power Rangers when he shows the clip and point out Danny's signals make no sense.
  • July 16, 2012
    abk0100
    • Buffy The Vampire Slayer: The episode "Teacher's Pet" (the one with the praying mantis lady.) Buffy didn't do her homework, so when the teacher asks her to explain how ants communicate, Willow has to help her. She gets the mime for "touch" right, but she misinterprets "smell" as "B.O." The teacher, without even turning around, asks if Willow has anything else to say.
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