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Irony as She Is Cast

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Irony As She Is Cast happens when known traits of an actor and the displayed traits of a role do not mesh. Perhaps a classically trained opera singer is cast as someone who cannot carry a tune to save their life, or a born-and-raised Jewish actor is cast as a Nazi. In order to qualify, the fans must know about said traits, otherwise there would be no dissonance.

Their trait might even have been the reason for casting:


Casting a talented actor as an untalented character is a common form, as it usually requires a great deal of precision. You have to be off tune in exactly the right way to be clearly off tune, at exactly the right time to engage maximum laughter; the level of skill involved for Stylistic Suck is frequently much greater than the skill needed to perform "properly". This version often implements Dreadful Musician, Hollywood Tone-Deaf or Bad "Bad Acting" (or any of the other tropes under Stylistic Suck). Contrast Cast the Expert (where this person was chosen specifically for their talent) and The Cast Showoff (where talent gets to be in the limelight).


Irony As She Is Cast might be reactionary in a long-lived role; extreme cases might try to counter what's Ripped from the Headlines.

Compare Casting Gag, when an actor is cast in a role that mirrors or parodies a previous role or experience, and contrast Actor-Shared Background, where an actor's characteristics line up with that of their character's.

The Trope Namer is English As She Is Spoke, probably the first real-life example of My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels, and not really related to the trope at all. But it makes for a good trope name.



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  • Windows started to use John Hodgman's PC character from the Mac ads even though Hodgman is actually a Mac user.
  • This tourism ad for Australia intended for a British audience cast Adam Hills and Kylie Minogue as quintessential and recognisable Australians doing typical Aussie activities like visiting the beach and taking selfies with native wildlife. Both Kylie Minogue and Adam Hills live in England, home of the ad's target audience, which begs the question of why they'd leave their homeland if it's so great?

    Anime & Manga 

    Films — Animation 
  • Rise of the Guardians cast the Australian actor Hugh Jackman as Bunnymund the Easter Bunny. While Bunnymund takes offense to being called a kangaroo, Aussies would consider that comparison insulting to kangaroos, since rabbits are a much-maligned invasive pest down under.
  • Jess Harnell as Cacofonix in Asterix and the Vikings. In reality, Jess can sing quite well (he possesses a quadruple-octave vocal range and is a member of a band called Rock Sugar). Somewhat lampshaded in the animated feature film Asterix and the Big Fight where Cacofonix's singing actors Jean-Jacques Cramier and George Harrison do an amazing rock song, only to be knocked out like always with the villagers declaring him a horrible singer (it is implied at least in that scene that he is a brilliant singer, but way ahead of his time).
  • The voice cast of The Lorax includes Zac Efron, who's the star of the High School Musical series, and Taylor Swift, who's Taylor Swift. Even though the movie is basically a musical, neither of their characters ever sings a note (Swift's first role to involve singing was the 2019 movie adaptation of Cats).
  • In Monsters vs. Aliens, the 49-foot 11-inch Ginormica is voiced by the 5-foot 1-inch Reese Witherspoon. The "behind the scenes" footage even lampshades this.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Prestige: Ricky Jay, the film's magic consultant, is cast an incompetent stage magician.
  • Madeline Kahn - a classically-trained opera singer, among her other talents - playing the German Lili Von Schtupp in Blazing Saddles. Lili is extremely popular for her sex appeal, but her singing voice is deep, heavily accented, and mostly off-key. Namely because she's an old-west parody of Marlene Dietrich.
  • Miranda Cosgrove (Carly on iCarly) needed lessons in how to sing badly to play Summer Hathaway in School of Rock. The same goes, in a way, in the Japanese dub, as Carly is voiced by Nana Mizuki, which is also a professional singer.
  • David Bowie has played characters that sang off-key in The Man Who Fell to Earth and Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence.
  • Meryl Streep
    • She playing hammy bad actress Madeline Ashton in Death Becomes Her.
    • Similarly, Streep playing the titular character in Florence Foster Jenkins. The whole point of the movie is that Jenkins is an absolutely awful singer who thinks she's great. Streep herself is an accomplished singer, having appeared in the movie musicals Mamma Mia! and Into the Woods, and even as a hard-rocker in Ricki and the Flash. Streep is also known for her humility and awareness of her own limitations, unlike Florence, who seems (literally) tone-deaf to her own bad singing.
  • Ralph Garman, a radio host, voice actor, impressionist, and a pretty damn good singer, was cast by his friend Kevin Smith as the mute Caleb in Red State.
  • Played with by Jean Hagen as Lina Lamont in Singin' in the Rain. Hagen, actually a talented singer, plays Lina with a hilariously shrill and screechy Brooklyn-accented voice and no sense of pitch. However, when Cathy Selden (played by Debbie Reynolds) dubs Lina's voice work for her in order to salvage the studio's current film, it's actually Hagen singing, not Reynolds.
  • At the end of the Steve Martin film All of Me, mystic and Cloud Cuckoolander Prahka Lasa is "playing" the piano as accompaniment to a saxophonist performing the eponymous song. This consists of him hitting a single note at the end of each musical phrase for the first verse of the song (and it's the same note each time, except once). Richard Libertini, the actor playing Prahka Lasa, was a professional musician before becoming an actor. Subverted in that a) it's always the right note to blend in with the song and b) at the end of the first verse, he looks at the rest of the keyboard as if in surprise and begins a quite talented accompaniment.
  • The Hairspray movie with John Travolta and Christopher Walken romantically singing together and dancing very, very badly. It's even funnier as both are well known as excellent dancers and are doing it badly on purpose.
  • Inverted in Major League, where the big slugger for the Yankees is played by Peter Vuckovich, who did play in the Major Leagues but was a pitcher who never hit a home run.
  • In a deleted scene in Little Fockers, Barbara Streisand's character sings "Happy Birthday" horrendously off-key. Though this may be a joking reference to the commonly observed 'fact' that it's impossible to sing that damned song on-key in a group.
  • This trope is invoked occasionally with Mark Wahlberg, who, because he started out in music as Marky Mark, is assumed to be a good singer. He's actually a good rapper, but it's this trope that's being milked when he sings badly in a movie.
  • In The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Michael Robbins is dubbed with a truly appalling singing voice courtesy of an uncredited... Julie Andrews!
  • James Bond: In Goldeneye, Minnie Driver is cast as terrible lounge singer Irina, whose rendition of "Stand By Your Man" is compared to "strangling a cat" by James Bond. Minnie Driver is actually a talented singer..
  • Played with in Stage Door, Katharine Hepburn, considered one of the best actresses who ever lived (and who went on to win four Best Actress Oscars), playing the talent-free wannabe actress Terry Randall. However, Terry is also seen questioning everything all of the decisions of the writer and director of the play she's in, which Hepburn apparently did in real life.
  • Joanna "Jojo" Levesque gets this twice in Aquamarine - she plays the best friend to a girl with a fear of swimming and has a scene where she swims with dolphins... and she was the one who was afraid. Similarly, out of the three leads (her, Emma Roberts and Sara Paxton), she's the only one who's a professional singer - and the only one who doesn't sing on the movie's soundtrack at all.
  • In Romance On The High Seas, it's a plot point that the wealthy Mrs. Elvira Kent (Janis Paige), who allows herself to be impersonated on a tropical cruise by a not-so-wealthy nightclub singer really named Georgia Garrett (Doris Day), is a terrible singer. The mistaken-identity complications are resolved in the movie's final scene where both women wind up on the same nightclub stage in Rio, but Mrs. Kent's singing abilities are not demonstrated even here. Janis Paige was a perfectly competent singer, as demonstrated by her leading role in the original production of The Pajama Game, though the movie version of that musical doubled the irony by recasting her part with Doris Day.
  • Mystery Men: Captain Amazing's publicist complains to him, "I'm not a magician!" He's played by Ricky Jay, a famous card magician.
  • In films featuring The Marx Brothers, Zeppo Marx is remembered for playing The Straight Man who rarely gets any good lines and mostly just serves as someone for the other brothers to play off of. Offstage, he was considered the funniest of the group.
  • In the Divergent films, Caleb is the Non-Action Guy and is visibly winded and out of breath whenever he has to run. He's played by Ansel Elgort, who's a trained dancer and extremely ripped underneath the baggy clothes.
  • In The Neon Demon Jessie has a speech about how she has no talents, mentioning she can't dance or sing. Elle Fanning is both a professionally trained ballerina and quite a gifted singer.
  • The Red Baron: Matthias Schweighöfer suffers from aviophobia, the fear of flying on planes. And he played Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron himself.
  • In Scream (1996), Tatum dies when she tries to escape Ghostface through the pet flap on the garage door, only to get stuck. During filming, it turned out that her actress Rose McGowan was actually skinny enough to fit through the pet flap, forcing the production to nail her top to the inside of the garage door to prevent her from slipping out. Maybe she wasn't Too Dumb to Live when it was such a close thing in real life?
  • Jojo Rabbit: Since the film mocks the hell out of the Nazi characters, of course many of them are played by Jews for extra "fuck you, Hitler" points. The biggest being Imaginary Hitler, who is played by Taika Waititi, who's not only Jewish but also half-Maori and describes himself as a "Polynesian Jew".
  • Bohemian Rhapsody: Rami Malek portrayed Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, who was a well-known Kindhearted Cat Lover. In real life, however, Malek is allergic to cats, which is why he isn't directly seen alongside any cats onscreen.
  • The Harder They Fall (2021): Idris Elba is the prominent villain in this modern-day Western, but he's allergic to horses and constantly took Benadryl to avoid sneezing all over the place.
  • On that note, Clint Eastwood, star of numerous Spaghetti Westerns, was himself allergic to horses. The famous Clint Squint originated partly as an allergic reaction to the animals he worked with, and partly for another ironic reason: the smoke from the cigars his characters smoked stung his eyes.
  • Happens in-universe in Grave Encounters, where the protagonists, hosts of the titular Paranormal Investigation Reality TV show, work with a purported psychic named Houston Gray. The entire show is staged, but whereas the rest of the cast do actually believe in ghosts and express mainly disappointment that they've never found any real ones, Houston is an unapologetic Phony Psychic and the most skeptical of the supernatural out of all of them. When it turns out in this case that the ghosts are Real After All and actively malevolent on top of it, he becomes the Flat-Earth Atheist of the group.

  • The characters of P.Howard (Jenő Rejtő) are supposedly illiterate pirates or otherwise simple folk, but when narrating in the first person, they sound like schooled and literate middle-class citizens trying too hard to pretend they are complete morons because they reflect the style of the author.
  • Isaac Asimov once stated that Mark Twain's real genius was in writing Huckleberry Finn so that Huck, who is uneducated and all-but-illiterate, is telling it in such a way that not once does the reader ask himself "How is this illiterate moron telling the story so well?"

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Mole, the person playing the Mole purposely does badly at things at which they are highly skilled.
  • Alfonso Ribeiro is actually a professional dancer (with an instruction video to boot), but Carlton Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air has a humorously goofy and unhip dance routine that serves as a Running Gag. But as unhip as his dancing may be, he is clearly performing the moves the way he intended—i.e., he is an uncool dancer, but not a bad one.
  • Glee:
    • In the original cast, before the character pool starting growing and flooding over, the cast's best dancer by a million miles was Kevin McHale. His character, Artie, is in a wheelchair.
    • Karofsky is an Armored Closet Gay bully who has no interest in the glee club and frequently torments its members. Max Adler is one of the few cast members who sang in show choir in high school.
  • Broadway veteran Jason Alexander had to tone down his voice to convincingly sing badly as George Costanza in Seinfeld.
  • Hogan's Heroes: Colonel Klink is a horrendous violin player. His actor Werner Klemperer was apparently very talented at it. His father Otto was a famous symphony conductor who left Germany in 1933 when Hitler came to power and served in the US Army during WW2.
  • In "Take Me Out to the Holosuite", an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine where Sisko recruits a baseball team to challenge a Vulcan rival, the actors portraying the inexperienced players were actually better at baseball than those playing the experienced players.
    • Much of the episode's plot is driven by Rom's utter hopelessness at baseball. His actor, Max Grodénchik, was a semiprofessional player before pursuing his acting career, and ended up playing left-handed (his off hand) for the episode because it was the only way he could convincingly fake his character's level of incompetence.
  • S Club 7 did this a couple of times on the TV show. Hannah is said to be a horrible actress and bungles her lines as an extra on a TV show. In real life, Hannah Spearitt studied acting for several years and had acted in numerous productions before joining the band. Another episode has Rachel failing at being a model. Rachel Stevens was part of a modeling agency prior to joining the band.
  • 30 Rock:
    • In an early episode, Jack was written into a sketch, causing Hilarity To Ensue when he turned out to be a really terrible actor. Of course, he's played by Alec Baldwin, who has been nominated for Oscars and is widely considered to be an excellent comic actor, especially for sketch comedy (Saturday Night Live has always loved having him on).
    • Liz Lemon can be pretty incompetent as a showrunner (depending on the episode). Tina Fey is not, as seen when she was head writer on Saturday Night Live from the late 1990s to the mid-2000s—and then running 30 Rock itself (probably the most acclaimed comedy of its era, which was a pretty good time for comedies).
    • Because 30 Rock is a show about making a fictional show, it could use this trope in-universe. It did so when the new actor Danny, a skilled singer, pretends to be a terrible one to avoid upstaging his costar Jenna.
  • On Hannah Montana, Miley's best friend Lilly is shown to have a terrible singing voice. In real life, Emily Osment is a capable singer. In the episode where her poor singing is demonstrated, the "edited" version of the song is actually Osment's real singing voice.
  • M*A*S*H: David Ogden Stiers was a skilled French horn player, while his character, Charles, makes it sound more like a foghorn.
  • NUMB3RS:
    • Charlie is a math genius, while David Krumholtz was not a great math student in high school.
    • Conversely, Colby is as lost when it comes to advanced math as any of the other agents, but Dylan Bruno went to MIT for engineering.
  • Power Rangers,
    • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Billy was a triple-example: his characterization started as that of a bumbling dork, who was also incredibly clumsy. His actor, David Yost, used to be a champion gymnast. He was also initially portrayed as quite hopeless at fighting while unmorphed and generally weak. Whether or not Yost was as skilled as his cast mates is debatable, but he sure was muscular for a supposedly wimpy teen. Finally, in a darker form of the trope, Billy was the ranger most consistently shown as getting the girl and winding up in romantic entanglements. In real life, David Yost was a closeted homosexual and claims that the people who wrote the show knew this and were trying to make fun of him. (The only people who didn't were his fellow ranger actors.)
    • Power Rangers Time Force: Kevin Kleinberg who played the Green Ranger Trip has a red belt in karate and seven years of kickboxing experience. Unlike other Ranger actors who got to show off their martial arts skills, Kleinberg rarely shows off this skill when Trip is unmorphed and Trip is depicted as being the weakest of the Rangers in terms of fighting skill with his main asset being his brains.
  • Hi-de-Hi!: Gladys is known for her bizarre semi-off key opera singing. Ruth Madoc is a professional singer.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Shirley Manson's character's daughter notes that she can't sing. Extra irony since a cover by Manson of the spiritual "Samson and Delilah", recorded specifically for the show, had been prominently used at the beginning of the episode that introduced her character.
  • While Debra from Everybody Loves Raymond shows mediocre singing skills at the end of "Sweet Charity," Patricia Heaton is an accomplished singer.
  • iCarly: Carly Shay cannot draw. Miranda Cosgrove can, very well.
  • Natalie Bassingthwaite did an impressive job playing a bad singer on Neighbours considering her success with the Rogue Traders.
  • Both the David Brent (played by Ricky Gervais) and Michael Scott (played by Steve Carell) versions of The Office have extremely talented comedians playing a character that is not only not funny, but doesn't understand enough about comedy to understand that they are not funny. See, especially, Michael Scott's improv comedy classes (which is doubly funny given the fact that Steve Carell actually taught improv classes back in his Second City days).
  • Kath and Kim: Kim is shown singing off-key in two episodes. Gina Riley, her actress, is a very talented singer who has appeared in several theater productions, and the theme song is also proof.
  • On Law & Order, Lennie Briscoe describes himself as having no knowledge of music whatsoever. His actor (the late Jerry Orbach) was a veteran Broadway song-and-dance man, who even recorded a solo album.
  • In Married... with Children, Peg is an awful singer. Katey Sagal, who plays her, is a talented singer who has recorded albums and was a backup singer for Bette Midler, amongst others.
  • Moesha, who was played by the singer Brandy, could not carry a tune to save her life.
  • In the TV-Movie Brian's Song, real-life Michigan State football player James Caan portrayed scrappy underdog Brian Piccolo, while Billy Dee Williams, who did not have a sports background, played the supremely talented Gale Sayers. Caan had to consciously hold back in the training scenes to make Williams seem more believable as the superior athlete.
  • One of the world's all-time greatest violinists, Jascha Heifetz, whose name is synonymous with perfection, had a talent for imitating bad students playing the violin and once did this on national television. In reality, his playing was so awesome that it is close to perfection in matters violin.
  • Musician-turned-comedian Victor Borge made a routine out of this: he would play a piece from memory, but throw in a single off-key note, which gradually multiplied into three bad notes, then five, then an altogether unrecognizable mess. At this point he usually stopped, got hold of the sheet music, and played the song again while reading very carefully — until he started hitting the same bad notes again... the implication being that he wasn't a bad player, he'd just learned the piece from a hopelessly erroneous transcription.
  • In Jeeves and Wooster, Wooster (played by Hugh Laurie) was, at best, a competent piano player, while Jeeves (played by Stephen Fry) was better. In real life, it's the other way around.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: Alex Russo is a terrible singer. Selena Gomez, on the other hand, can sing pretty well.
  • In a Friends episode, Joey tried to learn French, but he was only capable of speaking gibberish. His actor, Matt LeBlanc is a fluent French speaker.
  • On Law & Order: UK, DS Matt Devlin completely butchers the French language when trying to interview a witness. In real life, Devlin's actor Jamie Bamber speaks excellent French (aside from an early childhood spent in Paris, it's one of two languages that he studied, along with Italian, for his Modern Language degree).
  • Leverage:
    • Timothy Hutton is this. While he is an Academy Award-winning actor, the character Nate Ford is almost entirely a Large Ham when he plays roles in-universe.
    • Played with in-universe by Sophie. On a con, she can effortlessly step into any role and master any accent to play a part brilliantly. But when she tries her hand at legitimate theater or even a commercial, she becomes the worst actress imaginable. Even she can't understand how she can fool law enforcement with ease but can't win over a third-rate talent scout. As Nate once puts it "she can act when it's an act."
    • The gang uses a movie shoot as part of a con and are naturally worried about Sophie as the lead actress in the "film". To their astonishment, she turns in a great performance with Nate explaining that because Sophie is only pretending to be an actress, she can pull it off.
  • In Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., Frank Sutton's Sgt. Carter is portrayed as completely hopeless at hand-to-hand combat. In real life, Sutton was an Army Veteran and a black-belt in Judo.
  • Derek Jacobi has been cast as a stammerer at least three times. The first time was his Breakout Role, as the title character in I, Claudius. At any rate, he does not stammer in Real Life (although playing Claudius did, apparently, give him some temporary trouble in that area).
  • While filming Roots (1977), Levar Burton's character, Kunta Kinte, was supposed to be chased down in a sprint by his future wife's father. The father was played by football Hall-of-Famer O. J. Simpson, and it was expected that Simpson would have absolutely no problem catching Burton. Problem was, Burton had been a medal-winning track star in high school and could leave Simpson in the dirt when running flat out. After six ruined takes, the director finally took Burton aside and instructed him to not run flat out.
  • 'Allo 'Allo! Edith Artois is such a horrible cabaret singer that the patrons of Café René stuff cheese in their ears to avoid hearing her, but the actress who played her, Carmen Silvera, was a talented singer. René Artois is forever uncomfortable with Lieutenant Gruber's infatuation with him, but the actor who played René, Gorden Kaye, was an out gay man (while Guy Siner, who played Gruber, is heterosexual). Actor Sam Kelly was Jewish and played German Wehrmacht Captain Hans Geeringnote .
  • An early episode of The Incredible Hulk (1977) featured Martin Kove AKA Master Kreese and a three-time Black Belt as a completely untalented boxer.
  • On Under the Dome, Lyle sings horribly off-key during his short time in prison. He's played by Dwight Yoakam, who is better known as a country singer than as an actor.
  • In the Nashville episode "I Can't Get Over You To Save My Life," movie star Noah West asks country music star Juliette Barnes if she's acted much (she hasn't). Noah is played by Derek Hough, who's much better known for his dancing than his acting; Juliette is played by Hayden Panettiere, who's been in the business since she was a tot.
  • In The Wild Wild West's "The Night of the Murderous Spring," Dr. Loveless, Antoinette, and Kitten Twitty go down with their boat in a lake, due to the fact that none of them can swim. Luckily, Michael Dunn (Loveless) was a great swimmer - when Phoebe Dorin (Antoinette) came close to drowning during the filming, he rescued her.
  • Part of the comedy of Keeping Up Appearances involves Hyacinth being such a terrible singer that Emmet dreads even being in the same room as her. Patricia Routledge, who portrays Hyacinth, happens to have an excellent singing voice in real life, and in fact, actually shared the 1968 Tony Award for Best Actress with Leslie Uggams.
  • In the Undeclared episode "The Assistant", Steve's father Hal insists on performing an original song for Adam Sandler (As Himself) and turns out to be a Dreadful Musician: Hal is played by singer/songwriter Loudon Wainright III.
  • Musical comedy show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has Rachel Bloom play Rebecca Bunch, a woman who frequently imagines herself in dramatic musical numbers but when heard to sing diegetically instead of in an imagine spot is awful. Bloom herself has long been known for her singing comedy.
  • Ed Asner, who is Jewish, played a Nazi who hid as a Holocaust survivor in an episode of CSI: NY.
  • Multi-talented Catherine O'Hara plays Moira Rose, a terrible actor, horrible dancer, and mediocre singer, on Schitt's Creek. Moira does manage one excellent performance, at her daughter's high school graduation, showcasing O'Hara's actual vocal talent.
  • On Halt and Catch Fire despite Mackenzie Davis admitting that she's terrible at typing, she plays computer phenom Cameron Howe.
  • In Sherlock, the character Irene Adler is changed from an opera singer to a dominatrix. She is portrayed by Lara Pulver, an accomplished musical theatre actress.
  • In The Big Bang Theory, Mr. Fowler is awestruck by Howard's stage magic act, and fails to reproduce a trick later, with painful results. He's played by Teller, who is part of a famous magic duo.
  • Much of the comedy of Telenovela comes from how Ana Sofia (Eva Longoria) is the Latina lead for a hit Spanish soap opera despite how she doesn't understand a single word of Spanish.
  • This occurred in Big Time Rush, but by necessity, only in the pilot episode. The boys are depicted as having no aptitude whatsoever for singing or dancing, until they finally agree to buckle down and get serious about learning from Gustavo. Of course, in real life, the four actors all needed to be skilled singers and dancers already, or else they wouldn't have been cast in the roles in the first place. From the end of the pilot episode and continuing through the rest of the series, the actors' real talents were allowed to shine.
  • Vida: Melissa Barrera, a native Mexican who speaks fluent Spanish, plays Lyn Hernandez, who's inability to speak (and just barely understand) Spanish serves to highlight her pochanote  image.
  • The British comedian Tommy Cooper had a lot of routines in which he performed magic tricks that went wrong. In actual fact, Cooper was an accomplished magician (a member of the Magic Circle, no less) who deliberately performed the tricks in such a way that they would fail because he knew that they would get bigger laughs than successful tricks. Every now and then, he would perform a trick that actually worked - to which the audience would respond with rapturous applause.
  • Studio C has a sketch where a group of people are choosing players for their basketball teams. Then comes actual NBA player Shawn Bradley, who's about one and a half times the height of all the others ("it's like someone put a pair of pants on a ladder", to quote the Shoulder Angel that shows up), and everyone treats him like The Load.
    "Don't get near the hoop. Or the ball."
  • Victorious: Trina Vega is utterly untalented. She can't sing, she can't dance and she can't act. Her actress, Daniella Monet, can do all three.
  • WandaVision: Randall Park and Kat Dennings had previously been sitcom stars themselves, whereas Jimmy Woo and Darcy Lewis are much more serious looking in on Wanda's artificial sitcom setting for herself.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • There's an infamous skit where Santino Marella tries (and fails) to do the splits on the ring apronnote . Santino actually can do the splits, as he has demonstrated in other matches. Although there is a difference between a side-split (legs out on either side, which he was doing on the apron) and a front-split (legs forward and back, which he does in matches.)
  • TNA's Joseph Park, a wrestling lawyer, was shown to be shockingly inept at wrestling, even not knowing how to get into the ring and winning by sheer luck despite being 6'8 and 300 pounds (136.08 kg). Of course, he's played by Chris Parks, a 15 year veteran of wrestling who also portrays Abyss.
  • CHIKARA brought in Stephen Kingnote , 7 years a professional wrestler in various Midwestern promotions, as Deucalion, the Big Bad of The Flood, the amalgamation of Heel groups out to destroy CHIKARA, and presented him as having no wrestling experience, leading to CHIKARA Grand Champion Icarus countering his "one move" the Chokebreaker (Chokeslam into a backbreaker across the knee) and making him tap out to the CHIKARA Special.

  • Part of comedian Jack Benny's persona was his inability to play the violin, much less realize it. In real life, Benny was an accomplished violinist, often performing with Isaac Stern.
    • As an amusing anecdote, Jack was at one point asked to dine at The White House, and while he was there he would play his violin. When he arrived, a Secret Service agent asked him what he was carrying in his violin case. Benny answered that he had a Thompson submachine gun in there, "the old Chicago typewriter". The agent sighed and said, "Thank God, I was afraid you had your violin in there."
    • Apparently, only a very good violinist can pull off playing badly for comic effect. A bad violinist doing it is just horrible.
      • This holds true for just about any musical or theatrical endeavor, resulting in this trope in the first place; someone who is very good can be far, far worse than someone who is actually bad or merely mediocre.
    • Speaking of Benny, he often compared his skills to the legendary Jascha Heifetz (see the live-action TV folder), who himself occasionally recorded hilarious imitations of bad violin students for fun. Once one such imitation of Heifetz was actually rejected in a blind audition test. Heifetz's actual playing was truly spectacular.
  • In The Goon Show, Neddie Seagoon is portrayed as utterly unable to carry a tune in several buckets. His actor Harry Secombe had a successful singing career.
  • Les Dawson and Eric Morecambe both used "playing the piano really badly" in their acts. Of course, both actually played very well, as is necessary to make playing badly comical rather than tedious, and in fact, it can be harder to play the wrong notes while keeping the tune recognizable than to just play the tune right.

  • A classic character type in musical theater is The Rival to the aspiring actor/dancer/singer protagonist. Of course, the rival is never as good as the protagonist at acting/singing/dancing. However, this is frequently Irony As She Is Cast. For example in Hairspray, the actress playing Amber Von Tussle has to be a good dancer, because it takes a lot of skill to trip consistently and safely.
    • The girl playing Penny has an even harder job—she has to be awkward and a beat behind everybody else.
  • In The Phantom of the Opera, Carlotta is a shrill, shrieky Opera singer who is beginning to get on in years. She's been played by many talented and wonderful singers, who switch from her shrieking voice during the parts where she's supposed to sound badly into a perfect operetta during the ensemble musical numbers. After all, even when she sings badly, she is still supposed to reach a high note during it.
  • In-universe example: In The Moon is Blue, the virginal Patty tends to play a tart on TV.
  • A somewhat meta example: In Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson uses "immigrant" derisively towards Caribbean-born Hamilton several times. Jefferson's actor also plays Lafayette in Act I (who would, in America, technically be an immigrant from France), and famously has the line "Immigrants - we get the job done". The irony is likely intentional.
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda has played immigrants in both of his shows: Usnavi and Alexander Hamilton, and is in general very pro-immigrant. Not only is Miranda American-born, but his father (who's from Puerto Rico, an American territory so not technically an immigrant himself) also does not come from the same place as either Usnavi (who proudly claims lineage from the Dominican Republic) or Hamilton (who was born and raised in what is now St. Kitts and Nevis).
  • The character of Janet in The Drowsy Chaperone is a famous actress who (in-universe) is played by Jane Roberts, a relative up-and-comer in the theater world. In the Original Broadway Cast, she's played by Sutton Foster, who at the time was one of the most well-known modern Broadway actresses, thus making this a rare case of Irony as She Is Cast (in the show) and Cast the Expert (in the Show Within a Show).
  • In Cats Victoria is a silent role who dances a ballet number and must therefore be played by a very talented ballerina. During the performance, she is supposed to shake and look nervous, looking like an amateur, because Victoria is a very young cat at her first Jellicle Ball.

    Video Games 
  • During the saving skits in Super Robot Wars UX, Fei-Yen HD (aka Miku) starts to speaks in a very robotic way, contrasting with her cheerful personality during the game. This is mostly her voice actress trying to sound like Miku just like in the original Vocaloid software, rather than Banpresto trying to use the software for that job. Ironically, she does a bad job doing that, even if that scene is supposed to be a Tear Jerker for the player.
  • In Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Robin Atkin Downes has to do a bunch of horrible impersonations of Metal Gear characters in-character as Kaz. The voice actor himself is actually an extremely gifted vocal impressionist and nailed every line in the original recording session, with most sounding virtually indistinguishable from the original actor. The director had to call him in again to rerecord them all properly badly. Fortunately, the game gives Robin Atkin Downes the opportunity to show off his actual range when he plays Psycho Mantis and Revolver Ocelot in the quiz game at the end.
  • "Celestia Ludenberg" of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, an obviously Japanese girl who claims to be European, speaks with an affected French accent in the English dub (that quickly disappears whenever she gets angry and reappears just as quickly afterwards). She is voiced by Marieve Herington, who is French-Canadian.

    Web Animation 
  • According to the RWBY panel at RTX Australia 2016, Blake is the worst singer in Team RWBY. Her voice actress Arryn Zech, on the other hand, can sing opera, as seen in Red vs. Blue: The Chorus Trilogy, where she voices Dr. Emily Gray.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • Critical Role: Happens and gets lampshaded in the second campaign: Caleb claims he is bad at imitating voices and accents and subsequently does a bad (but hilarious) job at imitating his friends' voices. Caleb's player, Liam O'Brien, then breaks character to point out how strange that was since he, as a voice-actor, is very good at accents.

    Western Animation 
  • Dr. Robotnik from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog is a horrible singer. However, his voice actor, the late Long John Baldry, was a blues and folk-rock singer.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: In an episode, Catwoman jokingly mentions that Black Canary being gagged is for the best since she has a horrendous singing voice (which keeps with the comics, where Oracle has compared Canary's singing to torture on multiple occasionsnote ). Black Canary's voice actress, Grey DeLisle, is a professional singer. In the Musical Episode "Mayhem of the Music Meister," we get to hear her sing, and it's beautiful. Apparently, Catwoman was just messing with her.
  • In the Code Lyoko School Play episode, Laughing Fit, Ulrich gives a spectacularly bad performance as Romeo prior to the Return to the Past...his voice actress was on Broadway at one point.
  • Downplayed with Kim Possible: Kim's voice actress is Christy Romano, an accomplished singer. The episode "Hidden Talent" reveals Kim is a mostly good singer, but has trouble hitting high notes (she does manage it at the end of the episode though).
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Madeleine Peters, who voices Scootaloo is notorious for her rather bad singing in "The Show Stoppers". However, according to Daniel Ingram, Madeleine is actually a very good singer (as evidenced by her vocals during "One Bad Apple" and "Flight to the Finish") and was told to butcher the song. He would also very much like an opportunity to record a version of the Crusaders' theme sung properly.
    • Claire Corlett grew into this trope. She only provided the speaking voice for Sweetie Belle in Seasons 1-3, with Michelle Creber doing the singing. On the one occasion during this time that Claire sang in her own right, she turned in a screeching, off-key campfire song, going sharply against Sweetie's previous beautiful vocals. As of Season 4, she is doing both the speaking and singing; based on fans' reaction to the latter, she is doing an excellent job.
  • Homer Simpson from The Simpsons is know for eating junk food, drinking beer and rarely doing physical activities. But actor Dan Castellaneta, who voiced Homer for nearly 35 years is a vegetarian, doesn't drink alcohol and does exercises regularly.
  • Leela in Futurama is played by Katey Sagal, who has worked as a professional singer before she became known for playing Peg Bundy on Married... with Children. While during musical numbers, she gets to show off her chops, in-character Leela has a terrible singing voice, as seen when she attempts to serenade invading aliens with a horrific version of "I Will Always Love You".
    The humans are attacking!
  • Gina Cazador in Bojack Horseman is, at best, mediocre when she auditions for a singing part on her show Philbert. Stephanie Beatriz, who plays her, is a much better singer, as shown in Bojack's drug trip
  • On Family Guy, Meg's perceived ugliness is one of her defining attributes; her voice actress Mila Kunis is considered one of the sexiest women alive.
  • In the Avengers Assemble episode "Prison Break" , Crimson Widow takes quite a bit of joy in beating up Wasp and vice versa. Their respective voice actors, Julie Nathanson and Kari Wahlgren, are best friends in real life.
  • The Amphibia episode "Anne Of The Year" shows Hop Pop being terrible at improvisational stand up comedy. His voice actor, Bill Farmer, is an expert at improv.
  • A twisted example is with Steve Blum, a Jewish voice actor. One of his role in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! is the Red Skull, a literal Nazi. Likewise, David Warner did the first appearance of the Skull in Spider-Man: The Animated Series and is himself Jewish.
  • Moral Orel: One of the most notable traits of Orel's mother, Bloberta, is that she's incredibly tone-deaf, which earned her a lot of grief from her family, who all had perfect pitch. Bloberta's voice actress, Britta Phillips, is a professional musician best known as the singing voice for the titular character in Jem and the bassist for the indie rock band Luna.

Alternative Title(s): Irony As He Is Cast, Irony As They Are Cast


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