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Cue Card

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A character holds up a cue card for another character to read, usually while hidden. Expect the reader to be Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud.

Also included are Teleprompters. See also Cue Card Pause, Throwing Out the Script.


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    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield: Jon is using cue cards at a restaurant to sound romantic for Liz while Garfield holds them behind her. Not realizing the last card was Garfield telling him what he wants in exchange for it, Jon says "and I want a big, fat doggie bag for this".

    Films — Animation 
  • In Chicken Little, Turkey Lurkey's aides hold up cue cards to inform him on how to act, including one telling him his fly is open.
  • In The Great Mouse Detective, Mr. Flaversham is forced to read off cue cards while operating the Mouse Queen robot.
  • In Meet the Robinsons, Bowler Hat Guy is presenting Lewis' invention as his own to the board of a corporation. Doris flies outside the window with cue cards, but then the CEO lowers the blinds, forcing an unprepared Bowler Hat Guy to wing it. Hilarity Ensues in an Epic Fail where the Bowler Hat Guy runs the headphone set of the memory scanner across the long boardroom table to the Inventco CEO. When time runs out, the memory scanner falls over, and the CEO is pulled all the way down the table to get tangled in the cord with the Bowler Hat Guy:
    Bowler Hat Guy: So, where do I sign? [cuts to him being thrown out of the building, followed by the memory scanner]
  • Occurs at the end of Shrek, with Thelonious giving audience reaction cue cards for the wedding guests. Then he writes "AWWWW!" on the back of one.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Marlon Brando read most of his lines in The Godfather off cue cards. IMDB also says that in Superman his lines were written on baby Kal-El's diaper. Brando was notorious for not bothering to memorize his lines or often even to read the script, and then turning in amazing performances anyway while reading his lines from a cue card.
  • Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy has the main character relying on teleprompters to the point of not knowing what he's actually saying.
  • Fatal Instinct: as Ned Ravine is reading a captured bank robber his Miranda rights, his partner holds up cue cards with the words written on them.
  • In Idiocracy, President Camacho starts his speech by declaring "Shit!" followed by a long pause. Cut to the teleprompter which reads "Shit!" and is still slowly scrolling to the next line.
  • A blooper reel shows two of the main cast of Star Trek Into Darkness being pranked this way.
  • In Captain America: The First Avenger, Cap uses cue cards (taped on the back of his shield so he can read them easily) during his first USO show, but as the montage progresses he gains enough confidence that he no longer needs them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Sarcasm Sign on The Big Bang Theory.
  • In the made-for-TV-movie The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer Space, Ty Farrel, the actor who plays the hero on a 1950's children's TV show is actually such an incompetent actor that he reads all his lines from cue cards.
  • Since Saturday Night Live is a live show with guest stars who are often busy or not even actors, they tend to use cue cards. Often for humor purposes, the cue cards are deliberately shown or otherwise used humorously. One sketch depicts a morning talk show where the teleprompter suddenly break down. The hosts, without anything telling them what to say for the first time, panic and go completely insane.
  • When Andy Kaufman guested on Fridays he went (Kayfabe) off script, saying "I can't do this;" cast member Michael Richards went off camera, grabbed the cue cards, and tossed them at Kaufman. Link.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Under the Lake", Clara has cue cards for the Doctor in case he says something insensitive because of his Lack of Empathy. It doesn't work, as the Doctor reads all of the dialogue options without inflection.
    The Doctor: [completely deadpan] I'm very sorry for your loss. I'll do all I can to solve the death of your friend slash family member slash pet.
  • Several episodes of You Can't Do That on Television featured production assistant Ross holding up cue cards for the kids to read on the link set. In some scenes, the kids would also be shown holding cue cards containing Ross' lines, usually while trying to make a point about the series' spontaneity.
  • Angel: In "That Old Gang of Mine", Angel is apologising to Merle for torturing him for information the previous year. Merle has his doubts that Angel really means it, as he's reading his apology from cue cards.
  • Late Show with David Letterman. "Cue Card Boy" (the guy who holds up Cue Cards for Dave to read) is named Tony "Inky" Mendez.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • From Scott Keith's review of CZW Best of the Best (May 19, 2001):
    "In one case, the guy is obviously reading off cue-cards, which you can tell because his eyes move to the right every other word."

    Puppet Shows 
  • A Spitting Image American special had a send up of Bob Hope who is so dependent on cue cards that he needs a cue card guy to feed the question, "Where are my cue cards?"

    Video Games 
  • Kingdom Hearts II: This trope is probably the reason for Demyx's popularity. One has to wonder who wrote the cards for him, since half the words don't sound like natural parts of his vocabulary. Observe:
    Demyx: "If the subject fails to respond, use aggression to liberate his true disposition." Right. Did they ever pick the wrong guy for this one.

    Western Animation 
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: Edd holds up cue cards for Ed to read while he talks with Johnny. Despite screwing up, he manages to find Johnny's problem.
    Ed: Sit down and say hello, Johnny!
    Johnny: Uh... hello?
    Ed: Ask him how he is!
    [Johnny is confused, Edd holds up a sign saying "How are you?"]
    Ed: I'm fine. A little hungry.
  • Johnny Test: During the end of a school play, Dukey holds large cards for Johnny to read on stage.
  • The Simpsons naturally have had their go at this trope. From Krusty pausing during sentences to Homer yelling "NEXT CARD!"


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