A person is coached through a conversation of some kind by someone else who feeds them the right lines through an earpiece.
This will inevitably lead to a situation where the prompter is distracted by something and says or does something not meant to be heard and repeated, but the person on the other end faithfully mimics it anyway
. The Idiot Ball
is promptly passed to the person wearing the earpiece as they do as they were instructed, never considering even for a second that screaming out "OH GOD! NOT THE FACE!" might not be the best thing to do while you're trying to impress your dream date in a crowded restaurant.
Sometimes a variant occurs where the receiver's connection goes bad, and what would otherwise be the perfect thing to say gets misheard as something else.
Often overlaps with Playing Cyrano
. If the prompter manages to talk to his buddy on the airwaves AND the people around him at the same time, it's a Multitasked Conversation
Compare Miming the Cues
. See also Mission Control
, Voice with an Internet Connection
. A variation of Is This Thing Still On?
- There is one Priceline commercial featuring William Shatner advising a husband speaking to his wife on travel deals. Taken literally by the husband, who starts speaking like Shatner.
- A Canadian credit union has an ad where a young girl applies for their unlimited savings account featuring unlimited withdrawals, deposits, transfers, inquiries, and sugar cubes in the bank's coffee. The teller asks if she's using this trope when she begins grilling him, and her dad says "Tell him 'no'" through her earpiece.
Films - Live Action
- In School Rumble, Itoko does this to help Harima talk to Tenma while in the hospital.
- In Battlestar Galactica, Gaius Baltar is often being instructed in this manner by Virtual Six.
- There's an episode of Radio Active wherein Kevin is being coached through an oral exam by a hidden microphone with Morgan on the other end.
- In Coupling, Jeff is being talked through a possibly-a-date with a co-worker, which ends up in a Multitasked Conversation.
- Another Playing Cyrano example from Will and Grace, where Jack was hitting on a man while working in a retail store where he wore an earpiece. Will feeds him lines so he can look smart. The guy isn't taken in, finds Will, and asks him out.
- The D Generation did a sketch of them attempting to feed answers to Jane Kennedy during her appearance on the celebrity edition of Sale Of The Century.
- On one episode of Muppets Tonight with guest star Cindy Crawford, mumbling security guard Bobo the Bear develops a crush on her. They hook him up an earpiece so that Rizzo the Rat can feed him the lines, but Rizzo's nephews (coming home from somewhere with balloons) walk in, leading Bobo to hear and repeat: "Hey that's a nice set of balloons, maybe you'll let me play with them later.", followed by getting Punched Across the Room.
- In Drake & Josh, this is done by having Josh feed information to Drake through an earpiece in a Quiz Bowl-esque contest to impress a smart girl.
- Since the Leverage gang literally wear earpieces all the time, this happens periodically.
- For example, in the pilot, Sophie is pretending to work for an African consortium that wants to buy a bunch of airplanes from the mark of the week:
Sophie: I represent a group of investors who are looking to start an airline for short tour flights in Africa.
Dubenich: Out of Johannesburg?
Nate: Okay, he’s testing you. You want Bloemfontein.
Sophie: Keep away from the hubs. Revitalize the regional airports. In South Africa Bloemfontein for example. But really it’s Nigeria we’re focused on.
Nate: Yeah, perfect.
- See "The Stork Job" for one of many incidents of this leading to hilarity:
- M*A*S*H: The episode "The Moose" had Hawkeye playing poker against a soldier who had a Korean woman in subservience. Hawkeye had an earpiece into which Radar would relay what hand the soldier had so Hawkeye could play and wager accordingly.
- Captain Jack Harness wore a huge glowing not-Bluetooth earpiece all the time in Series One of Torchwood, which is kind of strange considering everyone else at Torchwood Three had the standard invisible earpieces. They got rid of the thing for Series Two, because, to quote Russell T Davies, "it ruined Barrowman's excellent jawline."
- Parodied on the Community episode Community S 6 E 11 Modern Espionage in which the various characters use obvious bluetooth headsets while talking. They also encounter the obvious problem of being overheard.
- Used in the Breaking Bad episode "Open House". Since Walt and Skyler aren't able to get Bogdan to sell his car wash to them at the price they want to buy at, they have Saul send his henchman Patrick Kuby posing as an environmental inspector, with Kuby naturally wearing an earpiece through which Skyler feeds him lines.
- Several instances in Person of Interest, given that Harold Finch usually communicates with John Reese via a hidden earpiece, often feeding him information while Reese is giving some cover story (including a Playing Cyrano scene in "Bury the Lede"). In "Prisoners Dilemma", Reese is being interrogated by Detective Carter, who is wearing an earpiece so FBI agent Donnelly can feed her the questions he wants answered. Finch secretly hacks into the earpiece so he can also talk to Carter whilst providing a fake background on the internet that matches Reese's answers.
- A side quest in Shadowrun Returns: Hong Kong involves you guiding your team's very socially inept decker past a series of obstacles by feeding her lines across a really bad commlink connection that frequently blacks out. Hilarity Ensues.
- In episode 3 of Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, Strong Bad discovers Pom Pom and Homestar Runner are using this for their act in the Battle of the Bands, with Pom Pom using an earpiece to help Homestar remember the lyrics to their songs. Strong Bad proceeds to sabotage their act with interference from the Drive-Thru Whale.
- Six Teen: Catelyn did this once.
- On The Simpsons there was a gag where Kent Brockman was being fed lines this way even when he was socializing.
- In the Pinky and the Brain episode "The Pink Candidate," Brain coaches Pinky through his presidential campaign speeches this way. While Pinky is holding a press conference, the wireless earpiece fails and starts picking up other random transmissions (a bank intercom, a drive-thru, a sports announcer), but by coincidence the answers still please everybody.
- In SpongeBob SquarePants Patrick coaches SpongeBob through his boating test by a walkie-talkie hidden under a cowboy hat. Mrs. Puff compliments SpongeBob on his improvement, joking that it's as if someone were telling him all the answers. But when she mentions that that would be cheating, SpongeBob freaks out and confesses... and crashes the boat, failing the test once again.
- In the Lilo & Stitch: The Series episode "Spike", Lilo discovers that the reason for her rival Myrtle always getting the answers correct at a quiz show was because one of the members of her posse had been giving her the answers through an earpiece that she had been wearing the whole time, which is cheating. Fortunately, Lilo sends Experiment 319 aka "Spike" to lower that girl's IQ, causing Myrtle to lose the second round to Lilo.
- Two Looney Tunes cartoons used a candlestick phone receiver in a scheme of manipulation, both by Friz Freleng. "Stooge For A Mouse" had the mouse turning the bulldog against Sylvester when up to then the two had been friends. "Bugsy And Muggsy" had Bugs making Rocky paranoid that Muggsy was out to off him.
- In one Histeria! sketch, it's revealed that the entire U.N uses these. Unfortunately, Hilarity Ensues when Big Fat Baby disrupts the prompters.