Repeat After Me
After me... No, no, no! That's not what I meant! This trope is about people following instructions too literally out of ignorance, feigned or otherwise. The archetypal example is:
Speaker: Repeat after me. I...
Speaker: State your name...
Crowd: State your name...Contrast Literal Genie and Exact Words, both of which involve a "backfire" effect, whereas Repeat After Me is merely benign and silly. For a visual variation, see Walk This Way. See also Disobey This Message and Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud.
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- In Empowered:
Protean: Call me "uncle", Doomsloth!Doomsloth: *cough* Uncle… Doomsloth!
- In one Little Arsehole story by Walter Moers, with Kalle Klammroth as Obelix.
Obelix: "Who's fat? I'm not fat! A bit... a bit..."Little Arsehole / Asterix (whispers): "'A little bit pudgy, maybe', you idiot!"Obelix: "A little bit pudgy maybe, you idiot!"
- Seeing as Werner loves Literal-Minded jokes:
Hörni: Say something.Kalli: Something.Hörni: You shall not say "something", you shall say something.Kalli: Something.
- This is just about the only example out of a whole lot that still makes sense translated into English.
- Animal House used the "state your name" version.
- Mel Brooks loves these:
- From Blazing Saddles:
- From History of the World Part I:
Madame Defarge: Repeat after me! (Cough!) (Cough!) (Hack!) (Spit!)
Parisian Scum: (Cough!) (Cough!) (Hack!) (Spit!)
Madame Defarge: No, no! Dumb scum.
- Another example from Robin Hood: Men in Tights is when Maid Marian tries to make Robin promise to not go to the archery tournament:
Marian: Oh, Robin, promise me you won't go!
Robin: Very well. I promise you won't go.
- From the Soviet comedy Ivan Vasilievich (the quote is translated from Russian):
Miloslavsky: Well... Tsar and Great Prince, repeat, of all of Rus'...Bunsha: Tsar and Great Prince, repeat, of all of Rus'...Miloslavsky: Don't repeat "repeat"!
- Variation in Airplane!:
Striker: It's an entirely different kind of flying, altogether!
Others, all together: It's an entirely different kind of flying.
- No less than three times in Pulp Fiction!
Lance: If you're all right, then say something.Mia: Something.
- After giving Mia Wallace the adrenaline boost:
Butch: I'll be back before you can say Blueberry pie.Fabienne: Blueberry pie.Butch: Okay, maybe not that fast. But pretty fast, alright?
- When Butch leaves for his golden watch:
Wolf: Say goodnight, Raquelle!Raquelle: Goodnight, Raquelle!
- And finally:
- What's New Pussycat? - Romy Schneider plays a language instructor teaching English to a mixed nationality group. Her fiance (Peter O'Toole) storms into the classroom, and as the two have a heated shouting match, the class repeats all their lines in unison. O'Toole finally shouts "Aaagh, you bunch of PARROTS!" and storms out.
- Disney's Pinocchio:
Geppetto: Say hello to Figaro.
Pinocchio: Hello to Figaro.
- A Night At The Roxbury actually says it flat out.
Father Williams: Steve, repeat after me.
Steve Butabi: After me.
- The Little Rascals:
Stymie: Repeat after me. I...Rascals: I...Stymie: Stymie...Rascals: Stymie...
- One of The Twelve Tasks of Asterix involves being able to resist the hypnotic gaze of Iris the magician. Iris tries to hypnotize Asterix into believing he's a boar, but keeps getting distracted by the Gaul's comments about his Glowing Eyes like "How do you do that?", "Can you make them light up one at a time?" and "They must be handy for reading in bed." Eventually Iris becomes so confused he resorts to this trope.
Iris: Repeat after me, "By Osiris and Apis, I am a wild boar. I am a wild boar!"Asterix: You're a wild boar, you're a wild boar.Iris: Yes! I'm a wild boar, a wild boar! (runs out of the tent on all fours, snorting)
- In political satire The Dark Horse, campaign manager Hal Blake is having deeply stupid gubernatorial candidate Zachary Hicks memorize an Abraham Lincoln speech (actually a slightly mangled version of this speech). Blake gets to the part where Lincoln says "the independent voters of this county" and tells Hicks "—change that to state." Hicks, naturally, repeats him word for word.
- In the Discworld series, the Ankh-Morpork City Watch Oath takes the cake for this trope:
"I comma square bracket recruit's name square bracket comma do solemnly swear by square bracket recruit's deity of choice square bracket to uphold the Laws and Ordinances of the city of Ankh-Morpork comma serve the public trust comma and defend the subjects of His stroke Her bracket delete whichever is inappropriate bracket Majesty bracket name of reigning monarch bracket without fear comma favour comma or thought of personal safety semi-colon to pursue evildoers and protect the innocent comma laying down my life if necessary in the cause of said duty comma so help me bracket aforesaid deity bracket full stop Gods Save the King stroke Queen bracket delete whichever is inappropriate bracket full stop."
- One Crowning Moment of Awesome for Sam Vimes is when he, while stranded in his own past, recites the whole thing from memory. He also implies that it's meant to be recited this way. (partially because Ankh-Morpork has been monarchless for centuries)
- If you have trouble reading it, it should be:
"I, [recruit's name], do solemnly swear by [recruit's deity of choice] to uphold the Laws and Ordinances of the city of Ankh-Morpork, serve the public trust, and defend the subjects of His/Her [delete whichever is inappropriate] Majesty [name of reigning monarch] without fear, favour, or thought of personal safety; to pursue evildoers and protect the innocent, laying down my life if necessary in the cause of said duty, so help me [aforesaid deity]. Gods Save the King/Queen [delete whichever is inappropriate]."
- In a Captain Underpants book, everyone signed a card "your name here".
- A rare non-comedic example crops up in The Lord of the Rings, of all places, when Pippin peers into the Palantír and winds up on a direct hotline to Sauron himself:
'It is not for you, Saruman!' he cried in a shrill and toneless voice, shrinking away from Gandalf. 'I will send for it at once. Do you understand? Say just that!'
Live Action TV
- The Burns And Allen Show always ended with George Burns saying, "Say goodnight, Gracie." The popular myth is that Gracie Allen would respond, "Goodnight, Gracie", this is a Beam Me Up, Scotty! She actually simply responded, "Goodnight."
Dan Rowan: Now repeat after me.
- Other shows use this gag. For instance, from Tiny Toon Adventures:
Buster: Say goodnight, Babs.
Babs: Goodnight, Babs!
- And from over the pond, this variation from The Two Ronnies:
Ronnie Corbett: And it's goodnight from me...
Ronnie Barker: ...And it's goodnight from him. Goodnight.
- Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. "Say goodnight, Dick." "Goodnight, Dick."
- ...and this is likely the example codifier, and the source of the Beam Me Up, Scotty!.
- A variation from the same show:
Goldie Hawn: After me, after me, after me...
- British snooker quiz gameshow Big Break did similar.
Jim Davidson: Say goodnight, J.V.!
John Virgo: Goodnight J.V.!
- And from Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Other shows use this gag. For instance, from Tiny Toon Adventures:
- From a Stargate SG-1 episode in which Daniel was turned invisible and only his grandfather Nick could see him:
Daniel: Repeat what I'm saying; I'm standing right beside you.
Nick: Standing right beside me.
Jack: He's lost a few pounds.
Daniel: Jack, don't be an ass!
Nick: Jack, don't be an ass.
- Fraggle Rock, from the episode "I Don't Care":
Gobo: I swear...
Assembled Fraggles: I swear...
Gobo: ...to be fair.
Assembled Fraggles: ...to be fair.
Gobo: Now solemnly repeat after me.
Wembley: Now solemnly repeat after me.
- This contestant on The Price Is Right.
Drew Carey: Say "Alakazam!"; lift up the lid. Ready? One, two, three...Contestant: Alakazam lift up the lid!
- One sketch by German humorist Loriot:
Herr Müller-Lüdenscheid: If you want to put some water into the bathtub, say please.Herr Doktor Klöbner: Please.Herr Müller-Lüdenscheid: Politely.Herr Doktor Klöbner: Politely.
- A variant is commonly used in Police Squad!. For example:
Ed Hocken: All right, Eddie, let's say you did go to the movies.All: You did go to the movies.Frank Drebin: Then let's say you were nowhere near the Club Flamingo.All: You were nowhere near the Club Flamingo.
- In a Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch, Biggles tries to dictate to his secretary a letter to King Haakon, and explains that he is not dictating when he takes his antlers off, doing just that as he says so. When she repeats "I am not dictating," he says "What?" and asks her to read what she has been typing, which is:
"Dear King Haakon, I am not dictating. What?"
- The very first Saturday Night Live sketch features this, albeit a physical version. Buck Henry plays a language tutor teaching an immigrant (John Belushi) how to read. ("I would like to feed your fingertips to the wolverines.") In the middle of a sentence, Henry has a heart attack and drops dead. Belushi looks at his dead body and slumps over the same way.
- Hilariously taken to extremes in the Night Court episode "Here's To You, Mrs. Robinson". Harry is trying to swear the pregnant Quon Le and other foreigners as U.S. citizens while Mac has appendicitis.
Harry: All right then, at this time, I'm going to ask everyone to raise you right hand and repeat after me...Mac: (bawls in pain)Crowd: (imitates Mac bawling in pain)Harry: Mac, are you all right?Crowd: Mac, are you all right?Harry: (making "stop" motion) No, no!Crowd: (imitating Harry) No, no!
- Then they try it again, but this time, they repeat Quan Le going into labor.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000
- Played with in "The Human Duplicators", when the hero says to his girlfriend, "Say something." Joel and the bots chime in with "Something". They're then surprised when the girlfriend also says, "Something."
- At the end of "The Indestructible Man", Joel reads aloud an affidavit that he and the bots have agreed to sign, stating that they will never make any more cop/donut jokes. When Joel reads, "I, state your name—" the bots immediately respond with "I, state your name—", much to Joel's chagrin.
- A recurring gag on Beakman's World:
Beakman: Let's say this wall represents a magnified section of human skin.
Rizzo and Josie: This wall represents a magnified section of human skin.
- After Hello Cheeky's local pianist, Denis King, is pelted with tomatoes:
Denis: Another television first...I shall now play "Fascinating Rhythm" with an eyeful of tomato. (playing and singing) Oh, fascinating rhythm with an eyeful of tomato...
- A Horrible Histories segment on how Victorian schools were run (by the students repeating whatever their teacher said).
- In the episode of Being Human where George teaches English as a Foreign Language and has Hollywood Tourette's, he recounts an incident where he said "Repeat after me" directly before an involuntary Cluster F-Bomb. The students all did.
- Dinosaurs: The Chief Elder has, among other responsibilities, the duty to name babies. When Earl and Fran brought Baby to be named, the Chief Elder started feeling pain and moaned. As the scribe in charge of writing the names on a certificate wrote the moans, the Chief Elder explained he was dying. Until a new Chief Elder was elected so the Sinclairs could take Baby to be renamed, Baby Sinclair's official name was "Ouch Ouch I'm Dying You Idiot Sinclair".
- Another victim of the trope was Fran's cousin "Atchoo".
- And "*Burp* Excuse-Me Finkleman"
- Another victim of the trope was Fran's cousin "Atchoo".
- The IT Crowd: Roy and Moss are worried about what to say to Denholm's widow at his funeral, and Jen tells them, "Just say, 'I'm sorry for your loss,' then move on." Roy goes up and says, "I'm sorry for your loss. Move on."
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air:
Will: Alright, repeat after me.
Carlton: Repeat after me.
- Sesame Street: Slight play on the formula - Commander Chiphead (played by David Hyde Pierce) has Cookie Monster recite the Cookie Connoisseurs Club oath.
Chipead: I pledge allegiance.Cookie: Me pledge allegiance.Chipead: I pledge allegiance.Cookie: You too?
- Supernatural: Charlie has to flirt her way past a security guard, but has no idea how, so Dean, talking through a bluetooth in her ear, tells her what to say.
Charlie: You ever do anything else with your free time, like take a girl out for a drink? Stop laughing, Sammy. Um...You don't know that bar? "Stop Laughing Sammy"? That place is bringing sexy back. Which is easy, cause I kept the receipt. Stop talking, Charlie. Right. So, you were saying, about going out? For drinks?
- Star Trek: Voyager. In "Message in a Bottle" two Emergency Medical Holograms have seized a starship from Romulan commandos, only for three Romulan warbirds to turn up demanding to speak to them. The EMH's try to bluff their way out by claiming the viewscreen is damaged.
Warbird: Where's Rekar?EMH-1: (beat) In the medical bay. He's suffered minor injuries.Warbird: Identify yourself.(EMH-1 casts a desperate look at EMH-2)EMH-2: (whispers) You first.EMH-1: You first. (realises what he said and winces)Warbird: Repeat your last statement. I don't understand.EMH-1: State your identity.
- M*A*S*H. Frank and Hawkeye are assigned to teach English to the Koreans working at the 4077.
Frank: I will fetch the doctor.Koreans: I will fetch the doctor.Frank: I will fetch the nurse.Koreans: I will fetch the nurse.[A hungover Hawkeye enters]Frank: You're late!Koreans: You're late.Frank: (waving his hands) No-no-no!Koreans: (copying gestures) No-no-no![Frank storms out in a huff, leaving Hawkeye to take the class]Hawkeye: I will fetch the doctor.Koreans: I will fetch the doctor.Hawkeye: [beat] Frank Burns eats worms.Koreans: Frank Burns eats worms.
- Occurs in some of Stan Freberg's parody song covers:
- "C'est Si Bon" begins with Freberg trying to instruct (in a bad French accent) his backup singers to sing "si bon, si bon, like zat." He then tells them to sing "si bon, si bon, forget the 'like zat,'" and "si bon, si bon, period," with no better results.
- In "I've Got You Under My Skin," each line of lyrics is dictated by Freberg to the chorus. When he starts forgetting what the lyrics are, they dutifully sing lines like, "Oh, darn it, what are those words?"
- In Fred Penner's album Collections, he asks the audience to repeat after him and then cannot get them to stop.
- A staple of Les Luthiers' shows. For instance, in "Cartas de Color", when Oblongo is teaching his nephew the rain dance:
Oblongo: Repeat my words.
Pupils: "My words", "my words"...
- McDonald's once held a promotion where they gave out little vinyl records, and you could win a million dollars if the choir on the record was able to successfully finish the The McDonald's Menu Song. The choir slavishly repeats everything Ronald McDonald says:
Ronald McDonald: Repeat after me!
Choir: Repeat after me!
- Steve Martin had a stand-up routine where he would make the audience repeat "The Non-Conformist's Oath."
Steve: I promise to be different!Audience: I promise to be different!Steve: I promise to be unique!Audience: I promise to be unique!Audience: I... [breaks down mumbling and laughing]
- In an episode of the 1990's radio spoof The X Fools, Patrick Stewart has the rest of his cast of Hamlet abducted by aliens, so Agent Smoulder is forced to play all their parts.
Stewart: LADY, SHALL I LIE IN YOUR LAP?Smoulder: MY LORD...um...Mr Stewart, what's my next line?Patrick Stewart: Good lord, this never happened on Star Trek!Smoulder: GOOD LORD, THIS NEVER HAPPENED ON STAR TREK.Agent Sulky: Smoulder, it's OK! I've found the other actors!Smoulder: SMOULDER IT'S OK I'VE FOUND THE OTHER ACTORS.Patrick Stewart: Oh The Times will crucify me!Smoulder: THE TIMES WILL CRUCIFY ME.
- Bottom Live 2001: An Arse Oddity (Act Ⅱ) – Richie & Eddie spend the whole act in a dome with no idea how they came to be there. Trying to piece it together⋯
Richie: Eddie, think back – what’s the last thing you can remember?
Eddie: It’s you⋯! It’s you, going “think back – what’s the last thing you can remember”⁉
- A pre-recorded message in Portal 2:
Cave Johnson: Say goodbye, Caroline.
Caroline: Goodbye, Caroline!
Cave Johnson: She is a gem.
- In Final Fantasy VII, Yuffie and Cloud did the "Say something . . . something" version on their Gold Saucer date.
- Used for an Ironic Echo in Def Jam Fight for NY:
Trejo (pointing a gun at the protagonist): "Say goodbye, bitch!" (Gun clicks empty)Protagonist (smirks and cracks his knuckles): "Goodbye, bitch!"
- This Irregular Webcomic! strip.
- Sam deliberately exploits this tendency in this Freefall strip.
- One of the (player) characters in The Noob is known as Your Name Here.
- In Blood Stain:
Elliot: I—I'm—I'm—I—Serge: ...I am Elliot...Elliot: I am Elliot...Serge: And I am here for the assistant position—Elliot: a... a... and I'm here for the assistant position!Serge: And I think Serge is smoking hot!Elliot: And I think... (Disapproving Look)Dr. Stein: Please, Serge—nobody believes that.
- In one episode of Winnie the Pooh that (loosely) reenacts "The Three Little Pigs" with Pooh as the narrator, Piglet asks Pooh what he should say to the Big Bad Rabbit who wants to be let in his home.
Pooh: I believe you're supposed to say no, Piglet.
Piglet: (firmly) No, Piglet.
- From DuckTales:
Some guy: Say you'll do it.
Launchpad: You'll do it.
Guy: No, say you'll do it.
Launchpad: You'll do it.
Guy: No, say "I'll do it," you idiot!
Launchpad: I'll do it, you idiot.
- At least once in The Animals of Farthing Wood, when taking their oath.
Badger: Repeat after me. I, name of animal...
Toad: I, name of animal...
- Animaniacs: Woe betide anyone who asks the Warner siblings to "repeat after me". They'll repeat everything, including the words "repeat after me". Of course, being the Warners, they obviously just do it to mess with whoever asked.
- Yakko gets it done to him in "Let the Anvils Ring" when he sings to the Anvilanian crowd "I am now your king! Repeat what I just said!" and they chorus in response, "Repeat what I just said!" Yakko doesn't seem to mind much, though.
- Used in South Park, where a ghostly minion of Satan is manipulating the Republicans, whispering in the ear of George W. Bush during a press conference. It all goes fine until...
- In Meet the Robinsons, the comically inept villain Bowler Hat Guy gains mind control of a talking frog, and this trope is played with, then subverted. Hilarity Ensues.
- Spongebob Squarepants:
- "Squidward The Unfriendly Ghost":
Patrick: He really needs to get to the Great Beyond.
SpongeBob: Patrick, say that again.
Patrick: That again.
SpongeBob: No, the other thing.
Patrick: No, the other thing.
SpongeBob: No, what you said before when you...
Patrick: No, what you said before when you...
SpongeBob: Never mind. I've got an idea.
Patrick: Never mind. I've got an idea.
- Mr. Krabs does this to Spongebob and Patrick when scolding them for playing on fish hooks in ''Hooky":
Mr. Krabs: I need a sailor's promise! Repeat after me. Yo ho, yo ho! Near the hooks, I'll never go.
Spongebob & Patrick: Yo ho, yo ho! Near the hooks, I'll never go.
* A fish hook pokes Mr. Krabs in the butt*
Mr. Krabs: YEEOW!!!! Mother of Pearl! Fire on the poop deck!
Spongebob & Patrick: YEEOW! Mother of Pearl! Fire on the poop deck!
- "Squidward The Unfriendly Ghost":
- Tiny Toon Adventures:
Buster: Say good night, Babs.
Babs: Good night, Babs.
- During one episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, all the boys join the "Secret Snake Club''' in order to get out of gym class, and have to respond to an oath... but when the senior members get into an argument, everyone else keeps repeating what they are saying.
- Pinky and the Brain:
- When Pinky ran for President, Brain typed stuff for him to read from special glasses during a debate. Unfortunately, the "F" button got stuck, prompting Pinky to make the sound. One of his opponents repeated it. Also, the glasses got other signs which Pinky repeated and another adversary tried to emulate.
- The trope was the ruin of another plan from another episode where Pinky gained notoriety.
- From the Hey Arnold!! episode, "Suspended":
Principal Wartz: "Repeat slowly after me."
Harold: "Slowly after me."
Principal Wartz: "No! Not yet. 'I will not enter the school grounds for the next three weeks.'"
Harold: "I will not enter the school grounds for the next three weeks."
Principal Wartz: "Good, I'll see you in three weeks."
Harold: "Good, I'll see you in three weeks."
Principal Wartz: "Harold."
- A Running Gag of Bojack Horseman is that anytime there's a banner, it includes spoken instructions such as "CONGRATS DIANE AND MR. PEANUT BUTTER PEANUT BUTTER IS ONE WORD DON’T WRITE ONE WORD" or "I HAD A BALL AT DIANE'S 35TH BIRTHDAY AND UNDERLINE BALL I DON'T KNOW WHY THIS IS SO HARD".
- In the late, lamented Adventurers Club, this was a routine occurrence in the "New Member Induction Ceremony" segment. For instance:
Character: Repeat after me: *clears throat*
Audience: *clears throats*
Character: No, not that!
Audience: No, not that!
Character: Not that either!
Audience: Not that either!
(Cycle would continue until either the character involved got fed up or another character prompted them to continue.)
- In blink-182's live album The Mark, Tom, and Travis Show (The Enema Strikes Back!), Tom addresses the audience: "I want all of you to say FUCK with me!" On the count of three, the audience yells out— you guessed it— "Fuck with me!" Mark asks Tom why he would want them to say that. They explain that Tom wanted them to say fuck, but he wanted them to say it with him. They try it a second time, and get it right.
- In an America's Funniest Home Videos clip, a scout troop instructed to repeat the scout motto all repeat after the leader: "I, and state your name". The adults present were amused. Some of them had cheeky grins on their faces, indicating it was deliberate on their part.