Parrots, mynahs, crows, and some other birds have a well-known ability to mimic many of the sounds they hear. Thus, it shouldn't be surprising that some of them learn to cuss like a sailor.
This is primarily a comedy trope, used for a laugh as the parrot's embarrassed owner tries frantically to shut the bird up. It's also Truth in Television
. Because parrots live for a very long time, most parrot owners are advised not to swear around them so that when the owner dies, the parrot doesn't have trouble finding a new home. For some reason, most prospective pet owners don't want their bird swearing at them.
A common variation seen in works aimed at kids (or otherwise vulnerable to censorship) is for the parrot to learn non-profane words that are, nevertheless, still insults or otherwise not meant for polite conversation.
This is a sister trope to Not in Front of the Parrot
, where the bird repeats something important it overheard such as the combination to a safe or a villain's Evil Plan
. Do not confuse this trope with actual talking animals
; this trope is about mimicry of profanity. Compare to Innocent Swearing
, where the one doing the parroting is a sapient being (usually a kid) that doesn't understand that it shouldn't say such things.
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- One of Ralf König's comics featured a parrot whose prior owner spent all his free time watching porn. The parrot had an understandably difficult time finding a new owner.
- In another, a gay youth councellor inherits a parrot from an old uncle. Unfortunately, the uncle was a Nazi ...
- Bertie Blunt (His Parrot's A Cunt) in Viz.
Films — Live-Action
- In Scary Movie 2, the parrot does this, except it turns out it can really talk and not just mimic.
- In Sur la piste du Marsupilami, Kiki the ara commonly insults his owner Pablito, including while they both are in the process of swindling some tourists of their money. ("Crook." "Imposter." "Mythomaniac.")
- Preacher Dudley's parrot in Deep Blue Sea, among it's favorite phrases include "Eat me asshole!" and "Hey, hey you dickhead!".
- The "frozen parrot" joke:
- A man owned a parrot that would swear up a storm at the drop of a hat. Around Thanksgiving, the owner had guests coming and hatched a plan. The next time the parrot started cursing, he grabbed it by the neck and tossed it into the freezer. Muffled cussing came out of the freezer for a couple minutes, then suddenly absolute silence. The owner was worried and opened the door. The parrot very meekly walked out and quietly asked, "What did the turkey do?"
- In a similar Russian joke, the owner puts the parrot in the freezer, and the parrot stops swearing. The owner says: "I knew that only Siberia can set you straight!".
- A third variation has the parrot forgotten in the icebox for an extended period of time while the owner is distracted doing something else. Panicked, they open the fridge and find the bird frozen solid—flipping them off with both barrels.
- A thief gets a tip from a fellow criminal to hit an old lady's house. He was told one thing. Nothing would happen to him if he didn't say a word to the parrot.
Sure enough, he breaks into the house, and he sees the parrot on it's perch. The parrot looks at him and shouts "Brutus is gonna fuck you up, you bastard. Brutus is gonna fuck you up!" the thief ignores him and starts going through the dressers.
"Brutus is gonna fuck you up, you motherfucker! Brutus is gonna fuck you up!" the thief grits his teeth and starts taking expensive items he can easily carry, jewellery and whatnot.
"Brutus is gonna fuck you up, you cunt! Brutus is gonna fuck you up!" the thief loses it and snaps at the parrot "Shut up, you dumb bird!"
Suddenly there's a big Rottweiler in front of the thief.
The parrot looks at him and pauses. "Brutus. ... Sic 'em."
- A woman went to a pet shop and immediately spotted a large, beautiful parrot. There was a sign on the cage that said $50.00, which seemed awfully cheap. Why so little?" she asked the pet storeowner. The owner looked at her seriously and said, "Look, I should tell you first that this bird used to live in a house of Prostitution and sometimes it says some pretty vulgar stuff." The woman thought about this, but decided she had to have the bird anyway. She took it home and hung the bird's cage up in her living room and waited for it to say something. The bird looked around the room, then at her, and said, "New house, new madam." The woman was a bit shocked at the implication, but then found it kind of amusing. When her two teenage daughters returned from school, the bird saw them enter and said, "New house, new madam, new girls." The girls and the woman were a bit offended but then began to laugh about the situation considering how and where the parrot had been raised. Moments later, the woman's husband came home from work. The bird looked at him and said, "New house, new madam, new girls; same old customers! Hi, Nick!"
- While marooned in the South China Sea in one of the Destroyermen books, Silva discovers a flying lizard that takes a liking to him, much to his chagrin. Being an enlisted man, Silva swears a lot, in particular calling the parrot equivalent a "stupid shit". You can probably see where this is going.
- In the Garrett, P.I. series, Garrett receives "the Goddamn Parrot" from his friend Morley. TGP's vocabulary primarily consists of appreciative but extremely vulgar descriptions of female anatomy, which he loves to indulge in whenever a woman comes to visit.
- Morley won't ever admit it, but it's an invoked example: he and his buddies must've spent weeks pre-loading the parrot with rude phrases before giving it to Garrett as a prank.
- A G-rated version appears in the Fudge books. Fudge is very proud of his myna bird, Uncle Feather, who can speak French. Any time someone addresses the bird he responds by saying, "Bonjour, Stupid."
- The ship's parrot in Nation, who spends most of the book shouting "Show us yer drawers!" at no-one in particular. The narrator notes that many of the things the parrot says are phrases Daphne knows she shouldn't recognize as a "proper" young lady, but she's more concerned about the phrases she doesn't understand.
- In Moving Pictures, the movie pioneers attempt to add sound to their films by using parrots. The result tends to be along the lines of brief snatches of romantic dialogue interrupted by cries of "Warrrk! Showusyerknickers!"
- Kiki the cockatiel in Enid Blyton's "Adventure" series, although being a children's series this takes the form of shouting obnoxious quotes rather than swearing per se.
- Mr. Harrison's parrot Ginger in Anne Of Avonlea. He got Ginger from his brother, a sailor who used a lot of coarse language. Mr. Harrison is used to Ginger's bad language, but it really embarrasses him when the parrot swears in front of company.
- In one of Betty Mac Donald's Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle stories, little girls who sass their parents and teachers have to deal with a parrot who says all those rude, ugly things. Not quite swearing, but still unacceptable; the girls learn how nasty they sound.
Live Action TV
- One episode of Happy Endings has Alex buy a parrot that keeps making racist and homophobic remarks.
Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.
I hate the Indians
Alex:He's a White Sox fan.
I hate Native Americans too.
- NYPD Blue had the Pointy-Haired Boss bring in an obnoxious parrot that repeated everybody. Sipowicz forces the boss to get rid of it by a simple trick: he plants a tape recording of somebody shouting "Douchebag! Douchebag!" in the parrot's room overnight. You can watch it here.
- On My Name Is Earl, Darnell revealed that back in the day before he got put into Witness Protection, he shared an apartment with a man who was a porn star. He is now married to the governor of whatever state Camden is located in, and she got him a job as the warden of the state prison. A porn movie was being filmed in the apartment just as Darnell returned. He was OK with that, but asked if he could put a cloth over Mr. Parrot's cage.
Darnell: I don't want to hear him talking about this all night.
- A Missing Episode of Dad's Army had a scene involving two old ladies with a parrot that used to belong to a Dirty Old Man. The women were rather deaf so didn't realise their parrot was saying things like, "Get off your knickers and get up those stairs."
- One sketch on The Benny Hill Show features a woman pulling the cover off of a birdcage with a parrot inside. The parrot quickly begins mildly cursing as the woman notices her priest coming over to her flat. She quickly pulls the cover back over the birdcage and invites the priest in... just in time for the parrot to exclaim, "Bloody hell! What a short day that was!"
- This◊ Dogs Of C Kennel strip had Wheeler the bird introducing his parrot friend to Will, only for the parrot to do some Symbol Swearing, implying that Will had already met the parrot.
- One cutaway of Family Guy has Joe buy a talking parrot. Peter immediately teaches it the word "cripple", much to Joe's dismay.
- The Kids From Room 402: Subverted. When Jesse and Vinny taught insults to a parrot, Jesse suggested teaching curse words but that was as close as the trope came to being played in the cartoon.
- Finagle's Law means that the one time you slip up in front of the parrot (e.g. you stub your toe on the coffee table and drop a Cluster F-Bomb), the parrot will inevitably remember it.
- There's a story about a couple who kept an African grey parrot in their bedroom. One night the couple "got busy". Later on they had some guests over and the parrot repeated the events of the night.
- President Andrew Jackson's parrot had to be removed from his funeral because it wouldn't stop swearing. In two different languages, no less.
- Winston Churchill allegedly owned a parrot that constantly repeated the phrases "Fuck Hitler" and "Fuck the Nazis".