Leonard: I'm sorry, sorry. You're not supposed to say "long pause".
Joey: Oh, oh, I thought that was your character's name, you know, I thought you were like an Indian or something.
A script is more than just the lines of dialogue and the names of the characters. It also contains numerous on-stage cues which the actor must follow in order to progress the scene. These are part of the scene, but they are indications for the actor to, insert italics, do something. Experienced actors know how to navigate a script and can easily sift the text from the metatext. Inexperienced actors, however That struck a nerve, do not finish that sentence. New paragraph.
This trope comes into play when a character unfamiliar with script format is unaware that not everything on the page is part of the spoken text. He may well start, WikiWord, Reading The Stage Directions Out Loud. New oh.
Can be justified in some cases by nervousness or inexperience, although like most comedy tropes, the real important qualifier here is the, wik-oh, Rule of Funny. No matter how ludicrous the directions in question may sound, a character who doesn't know any better will read all of them.
See Reading Ahead in the Script, Repeat After Me, Saying Sound Effects Out Loud, as well as some examples of Hello, [Insert Name Here] for tropes which use the same basic principle of humor, open parenthesis (saying stuff that the character is not supposed to be saying, close parenthesis). A staple of Bad "Bad Acting". End of description, insert line, open list of examples. Oh, damn.
The inverse of Overly Literal Transcription.
- A staple of comedy shows set in the days where telegrams were the norm (especially in the present day) is the telegram reader reading the STOP that denoted the end of sentences (in lieu of the non-existent period in Morse code.) Now many people aren't even aware that this was a joke.
- One joke based on this: Two business partners receive a telegram at their office; the new secretary begins reading it off to one of them. After hearing her say "STOP" about a half-dozen times, the other partner yells from the inner office, "Get your hands off her and let her finish!"
- Bill Bailey, telling a joke about the adverts for compensation lawyers:
"...But thanks to Claims Direct, I got £5000, look happy. Oh, hang on, £5000 " (pulls a fake smile)
- In one New Avengers issue we see a flashback where Jessica Drew says something in Skrull (as in, the Skrull language). If you decode the Skrull writing—which is English but in a very strange font—you'll see that the actual sentence she speaks seems to be a placeholder that the comic's writer forgot to exchange for an actual line:
Jessica: Jessica says something very Skrully.
- In Peter Chimaera's Digimon 3: Predator Vs Digimon, a misplaced quotation mark makes it look like the eponymous character is doing this.
...but there was nockwat the door from a probably postman. "I will get the mail he opened the door and there was another Predator"
- Dragon Age: The Crown of Thorns has some instances of this in parentheses:
Raonar: I now know that, regardless of how many times I tell this hot-blooded idiot (he points at Trian) that I don't want the throne, he'll still believe every possible rumor that says I am out to get him.
- In An Eagle Among Lions, Edelgard has a Divine Pulse-induced vision of her alternate-universe self practicing a New Era Speech written for her by her world's Ferdinand and Hubert. Dorothea has to remind the other Edelgard not to say "pause for effect" when giving the actual speech.
- A couple of omakes for Implacable has Taylor Hebert do this to show her utter disdain for the PRT after being forcefully recruited.
- Done unintentionally in Aladin by Dingo Pictures where the voice actor for Aladin reads out loud the script direction "Exit Scene."
- In The Mitchells vs. the Machines, Linda uses a cue card to get Rick to support Katie's plans, but he reads the instructions in parentheses ("Now you talk") as well.
Rick: [flatly] "Honey, I respect your ideas and value your opinions, and...now you talk." Uh, I think that's a great idea, sweetheart.
- Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun 33 1/3 does this with an autoprompter. Up to Eleven when he inadvertently starts reading parts of the script meant for the other co-host.
- In the 1982 film version of Annie, Oliver Warbucks did this for his radio appearance, where he reads "drop page" and "Warbucks interrupts".
- Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp) in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, probably because he hasn't had time to prepare to memorize the introduction speech he gives for the guests after his puppet show goes up in flames, reads it off of index cards, saying, "I shake you warmly by the hand," which he promptly does. In the book, this line is incorporated into the message printed on each Golden Ticket.
- Ron Burgundy in Anchorman will read out whatever is put on a teleprompter and so does this multiple times.
Ron Burgundy: You stay classy, San Diego. I'm Ron Burgundy?
Ed Harken: [slams a fist down] Damn it! Who typed a question mark on the teleprompter?!
- Played with in Revenge of the Nerds. The jock Ogre is about to engage in a belching contest against the nerd Booger. The announcer reads off Ogre's real, upper crust, and completely nonthreatening name. Ogre leans in and whispers something in the announcer's ear. The announcer steps to the mike again. "Ogre U. Asshole." Another whisper. "Ogre."
- Black Dynamite: Two of the militants do this in their first scene. Being a parody that generally keeps the fourth wall intact (save a boom mike or two), it might take a moment for a viewer to realize what just happened.
- Militant #1: The militants turn startled! How did you get in here?
Black Dynamite: I'm looking for the man in charge.
Militant #1: Sarcastically, I'm in charge.
- An unintentional example occurs in the Exploitation Film Video Violence 2. "You scared me, covering her breasts!"
- The line "I need a vacation" wasn't part of the dialogue in the script for Terminator 2: Judgment Day, it was only written to describe that the T-800 in that particular scene "looks like he needs a vacation". Arnold instead decided to Throw It In as a line, and James Cameron liked it enough to keep it.
- Happens in Bewitched when Nicole Kidman's character tries out for the Samantha role and reads the scene descriptions and character names.
- In the 1975 Rollerball film, star player Jonathan E. is giving a TV interview. He reads from a prepared script, "Hello, pause, I'm Jonathan, smile."
- A rather laughable incident in the beginning of a Puss in Boots film starring Christopher Walken: The ogre is introduced to the audience, and the ogre then says precisely this: "Laugh! HA HA HA!"
- In Private Benjamin, Judy Benjamin, when taking her oath of loyalty after signing up for the Army, repeats, "...do solemnly swear or affirm..."
- In Animal House, Otter leads the Delta House in taking the fraternity pledge:
Otter: I... state your name.
All: I... state your name.
- A variant in Hail, Caesar!, where the director is trying to teach his dimwit lead actor how to say his line properly:
Laurentz: "Would that it were so simple." Trippingly.
Hobie: Would that it were so simple trippingly.
Laurentz: No, don't say "trippingly," say the line trippingly!
- In A Face in the Crowd, one of the many signs we get that rising star/demagogue "Lonesome" Rhodes says and does as he pleases rather than sticking to a script is his stiff reading of an advertisement on his Memphis TV show, complete with reading the punctuation marks aloud.
Rhodes: [reading from a crumpled piece of paper] "Friends, comma, why not invest in sleep insurance, question mark. That is what you will be doing when you buy your... Luffler Easy-Rest mattress, period."
- In Yellowbeard, Flunkie announces Commander Clement at Queen Anne's court by reading from the guest list:
"Commander of Her Majesty's Secret Service! Do not read this part out loud!"
- In the beginning of Jungle Cruise, MacGregor is shown reading a speech that Lily wrote for him off cue cards, and being so nervous that he reads '(pause for dramatic effect)' out loud to the room.
- The Watchman's Oath is taken by reading not only the directions, but each bit of punctuation. It begins "I comma square bracket recruit's name square bracket comma...". This started as Carrot's mistake, but has apparently become tradition — although, due to some fiddling with the timeline in Night Watch, Vimes said that version before Carrot ever did.
- Vimes has used this to his advantage, however, in the line that says, essentially: "I will hold the [King/Queen] (Delete whichever is inappropriate) above the Law" — Ankh-Morpork hasn't had a regal ruler for some time now. Incidentally, having Vimes say anything along the lines of "Delete the monarch" is hilarious considering people still hold it against him that his ancestor killed the king.
- Almost anything official that the Watch reads will be a combination of this and severe warping of Canis Latinicus. One other example is the "Habby-Us Corpus" procedure from Making Money, in and around which Habby is used as a verb. Written fluency is not a common trait for Watchmen. Subverted in I Shall Wear Midnight, where the use of "Happy-ass Corp-ass" on the part of the character is deliberate — the character in question is highly intelligent, but his sergeant considers that a dangerous thing, so he deliberately dumbs himself down.
- Likewise, in Carpe Jugulum the infant princess is named Esmeralda Margaret Note Spelling of Lancre, due to the Lancre tradition that whatever the priest says at the naming ceremony is your name, said priest's nervousness, and the fact that Magrat, who owed her own name to a combination of this tradition and her mother's inability to spell "Margaret", was determined it wouldn't happen again. Still better off than the former king My God He's Heavy the First or farmer James What the Hell's That Cow Doing In Here Poorchick, though.
- And an earlier book mentioned the shortest reigning King of Ankh-Morpork, who was assassinated only 1.4 seconds after being crowned. Presumably at that point he was declaring his epithet, as he is recorded as King Loyala the Aargh.
- A literal example appears in Wyrd Sisters, when Tomjon demonstrates that, yes, he was playing the female lead in the play just ended. He does so by relating the female character's soliloquy in dulcet feminine tones, then keeps right on rattling off the stage directions and transitions into the next (male) character's lines before he's told that's enough.
- Similarly, the current royal falconer of Lancre castle is generally referred to as Hodgesaargh, given his tendency to get attacked by the bird he is currently handling during introductions.
- In The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch, Hex makes several dramatic announcements to the wizards, and says the words "pause for dramatic effect" before saying the last word. Ponder eventually tells him that he doesn't need to do that.
- The book and play Enter Laughing takes its title from this trope, and the example therein.
- A rare possibly-inadvertent example, from the Doctor Who Tie-In Novel The Year of Intelligent Tigers:
'I've got used to this planet,' said Besma. 'It's - thinks - my fifteenth world.'
- In his humorous essay, Spring Bulletin, Woody Allen writes that before the invention of italic type, "great actors frequently found themselves saying, "John rises, crosses left."
- Happens to the Prime Minister in Minidoka: 937th Earl of One Mile Series M by Edgar Rice Burroughs:
...introduced by the Prime Minister, who said in part, "Gents, I wish to inthrojuice this candidate for the foor hundredth and last mimbership in our orther applause —." This frustrated him a little as he hadn't meant to read the 'applause", that was for the reporters to copy in the evening papers.
- In Return to Planet Tad, one of Tad's classmates, Ben Irvin, manages to avoid being cast for a School Play that nobody in the school wants to be in by doing this during his audition.
- Referenced in The Kane Chronicles when Sadie attempts to cast a spell. She's so nervous that she almost says "I, insert your name here!"
- In Jennings, the boys try to put on a play called "The Miser's Secret" (having rejected "The Mysterious Mystery of the Miserable Miser" on the grounds of redundancy.) The first rehearsal begins with the murderer reading out his first line: "Creeping on stealthily. I wonder if I will meet that old miser today."
- Arrested Development: George Sr.'s surrogate, Larry, in "Forget Me Now":
Larry: Wink. Did you say wink? Or did you wink?
Michael: He said that too, Dad.
- "Stage freeze!" in The Nightman Cometh, immediately rebuked with "You don't say stage freeze, you just do it!" on stage.
- As seen in the above page quote, Joey Tribbiani of Friends has done this on some of the (very few) occasions that we actually get to see him do some acting. Another example was the time he got to read a news report: "Good evening, I'm Name!"
- Stephanie did this on Full House. She was in a cereal commercial and read as her lines, "Stephanie takes a spoonful of cereal."
- Perry from Undeclared did this.
- The Colbert Report
- Jerri Blank in Strangers with Candy does this occasionally, Breaking the Fourth Wall for no adequately explored reason. ("The two hug.") Nobody else ever notices.
- 30 Rock:
- Something similar to this happened in an episode in which Jack Donaghy was put in a sketch. In rehearsal, he read Josh's line after walking on stage, even though that line was "What's up, Mr. Donaghy?"
- Also used in the Christmas Episode where they are putting on a last-minute live special. Tracy reads "cross to piano" aloud while introducing Jenna.
- And when Tracy is reciting a script to impress a member of Congress with NBC's rich diversity, he reads all the directions, including "Don't read this part, Tracy."
- Kenneth reads a memo from Jack: "Due to the Obama worldwide recession, there will be no Leap Day bonuses this year. Mean laughter, sound of a drink being poured, what are you writing now, you slack-jawed donkey."
- I Love Lucy:
- Lucy does it in the episode when she and Ricky sue the Mertzes for breaking their TV set — Ricky writes her testimony for her and includes directions such as "snarls at Mertzes" and "lifts skirt a little higher," which Lucy reads out loud when they're practicing.
- Ethel also does it in another episode when rehearsing a play that Lucy wrote, although it wasn't technically a stage direction that she read out loud. Her character was giving Lucy's character compliments about her appearance, which ended with "and your nose is continued on the next page."
- Newsman Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show will do this occasionally, saying out loud "Remove glasses and look at the camera". Also inverted, when Mary hands him an urgent news bulletin and whispers "read it" — whereupon Ted reads it silently to himself until Mary blurts "OUT LOUD!"
- On cycle four of America's Next Top Model the girls were supposed to read from a prompter, pretending to be a red carpet announcer. Kahlen read the stage directions "looks to the left" out loud, followed by an "oops".
- On a Taxi episode, Jim Ignatowski is moonlighting as a vacuum cleaner salesman:
Jim: How do you do, Mr. or Mrs. Fill in Name of Couple. I'm Your Name Here, but you can call me Nickname.
- Happens during Spike Milligan's BBC series Q6 (1975) — during a visit to Harrods, Milligan's character says "we pause here, the man backs out of shot and comes back with a new parcel three minutes later". The line preceding the Harrods visit is "Cut to Harrods beautiful salon room with thick carpets"!
- In the Doctor Who episode "Under the Lake", the Doctor reads a Cue Card that had been prepared for when says something insensitive word for word.
The Doctor: I'm very sorry for your loss. I'll do all I can to solve the death of your friend/family member/pet.
- Happened in the UK game show The Generation Game, where in one episode the contestants had to put on a short pantomime of 'Cinderella'. Due to various parts of the script being hidden to the audience behind pieces of scenery (because of time constraints), not only would the contestants sometimes read out the stage directions, there were also times where they had to be directed to the next piece of script.
- There was another UK game show from the '80s where the contestants got to be movie stars for a day and reenact famous movie scenes. They almost always read the stage directions along with their lines — by accident of course.
- When imitating former British Prime Minster Tony Blair, impressionist Jon Culshaw would have him reading his stage directions off the autocue, suggesting that everything he did was fake and calculating. Brief pause, caring expression, emotive hand gesture.
- Apparently accidental version in Power Rangers S.P.D.. "BATTLE CRY!"
- Robin Williams in Mork & Mindy added the words "heavy sigh" to his lines to express Earthling emotion.
- Star Trek:
- Seven of Nine does this on an episode of Star Trek: Voyager while reading a sample conversation the Doctor gave her to improve her interaction skills.
- Also happens in The Next Generation when the crew are stuck in the past and Picard is trying to distract the Landlady who wants to kick them out for not paying the rent. He gets her to read the part of Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream — she reads the stage directions along with the part.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus:
- The courtroom sketch where Graham Chapman walks in as Inspector Dim of Scotland Yard and everybody says together, "Consternation! Uproar!"
- Also in the "Lost World of Roiurama" sketch:
Our Hero: Any news of Betty Bailey's expedition, Hargreaves?
Hargreaves: Er ... um ... er...
Our Hero: [through clenched teeth] Page 9...
Hargreaves: [thumbing over page of script beneath counter] The Lost World of Roiurama.
Our Hero: That's my line.
Hargreaves: Oh, sorry. Where were they going, sir?
Our Hero: The Lost World of Roiurama.
Hargreaves: Yes sir, we've got a telegram.
Our Hero: Oh?
Hargreaves: Reads it. "Expedition superb. Weather excellent. Everything wonderful."
- Get Smart: One secret mission of Maxwell Smart's required that he pass as an actor in a stage play, and CONTROL hires a famous acting coach to teach him the basics. Much hilarity ensued as Max bungles every line and direction he is given — one of his mistakes was to read the script as "I beg your pardon, smiles and bows".
- The eponymous heroine of Hannah Montana does this twice while reading off a teleprompter during an awards show.
- Too many "Funniest Home Videos"-type shows to name get a cheap laugh out of bungled oath ceremonies caught on camera
Leader: "I, [state your name].."
Response: "I, state your name.."
- A variation of this occurs where the original person says their actual name, and the response includes this name instead of the person or people's actual names.
- On Mystery Science Theater 3000, toward the end of "The Indestructible Man", when Joel, Servo and Crow agreed to sign an affidavit stating they would no longer make any jokes about cops eating donuts, Crow and Servo do the "I, state your name" joke, much to Joel's chagrin.
- Caroline in the City: When Caroline was reading Richard's memorial speech (which he had written himself) at his fake funeral
Caroline: As the curtain descends far too early on this brilliant career, we remember the artist, Richard Karinsky. Indicate my body. [she realizes her mistake] ...of work. [she indicates his paintings]
- iCarly: In "iBloop" (a combination of Adam Westing and blooper reel Clip Show), Reed Alexander (Nevel's actor) messes up his line by doing this.
Nevel: THIS IS A MOCKERY! EAT POPCORN!
- In one Meta episode of Supernatural, the actors play their characters playing the actors playing the characters, and as neither Sam nor Dean actually know how to act, it doesn't turn out well.
Dean-as-Jensen-as-Dean: Dean, grimly... "And yet somehow you got no problem with it!"
- Slings & Arrows has a variant: the actors are reading through the script for the first time, and the clueless intern is given the job of reading the stage directions. She ends up tripping up the actors by trying to read all the stage directions, including little one-word tags like "angrily".
- Hercules: The Legendary Journeys has an example where Kevin Sorbo accidentally does exactly this. Sorbo himself claims this was NOT the case but rather was an ad-lib referencing A Fish Called Wanda.
- Claireparker does this when she is rehearsing for her cut scene in Pixelface. At the end of the episode, she still does it when recording the actual scene.
- Whose Line Is It Anyway? has Wayne and Brad do it during a skit.
Wayne: Wayne. That's right, Brad! Dot dot dot...
- Mock the Week, "Things you wouldn't hear at a party conference"
Hugh Dennis: Unlike other party leaders I could mention, I am not a slave to the autocue. Smile, pause, applause.
- George & Mildred: While helping Mildred learn her lines for the Cinderella pantomime, George reads the following out loud (in a bored monotone):
George: I shall marry the handsome over. [looks confused then turns the page] Prince.
- On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Willow frequently did this along with Saying Sound Effects Out Loud.
Willow: Ah... um... various sounds of hesitation...
- In the episode "April Fool's Blank", both Ariana Grande and Elizabeth Gillies did it during a parody of The Wizard of Oz.
Cat (as Dorothy): [after hitting her head against a bathroom stall] Concussion.
Jade (as the Wicked Witch): The witch sneers at Dorothy,... then exits.
Cat (as Dorothy): Oh my goodness. She spoke her stage directions.
- In the episode "April Fool's Blank", both Ariana Grande and Elizabeth Gillies did it during a parody of The Wizard of Oz.
- According to Salma Hayek during an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman this is often a cause of bloopers in Spanish-language Telenovelas (soap operas). Rather than learning the lines, the actors are given earbuds where their dialogue is read to them, which they then speak. But their stage directions are also read to them, leading to lines like, "I never never want to see you again! Exit! Slam the door!" or "Please, you have to believe me! You're the love of my life! Move to the left, you're blocking the light"
- In an episode of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, London gets a job at a fast food place and tries to work the drive-thru. Hilarity Ensues
London: Welcome to Cluck Bucket, may I take your order? Take finger off talk button... oh.
...Will there be anything else? Suggest whatever's getting cold! *Car drives away*
- Happens often in the fourth wall-lacking "Dirk Niblick" segments on Square One TV. For example, in an episode about rounding, the Noodleman siblings, Fluff and Fold, are shocked to discover that their haphazard use of rounding has led them to underestimate the price of their purchases:
Fluff, Fold: Three dollars and four cents, question mark, exclamation point, question mark, exclamation point?!?!
Cashier: That's right, three dollars and four cents, period.
- An episode of The Office had Michael trying to train Deangelo Vickers to be better at Witty Banter by having him read off idiot boards. "Now, I hear he's going to be my right-hand man, ad-lib masturbation joke... Mr. Dwight Shrute!".
- Saturday Night Live:
- Happens to Dan Aykroyd in a season 3 episode during a "Weekend Update" sketch. And unlike some examples on here, this was unintentional.
- The opening to a 2005 episode with Catherine Zeta-Jones featured this. President Bush tries to put a positive spin on the situation in Iraq, but the soldiers are reading the directions on their cue cards. One of the soldiers is forcibly removed when he refuses to play along.
Captain: Hello. Wow! I'm thrilled to speak to you. Smile At Camera. It's moments like these, that I just have to speak from the heart. Point To Chest. Everything in Iraq is going as expected. Well, that's great to hear, Captain.
President Bush: [chuckles nervously] Well, that's great to hear, Captain.
- In Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Jake does this while he was reading cue cards written by the guy who's holding him hostage. In this case, however, the guy is strung out on a cocktail of meth, cocaine and various other drugs, so in Jake's defence the line between 'script' and 'stage directions' is probably not 100% clear.
- Horrible Science: In "Gruesome Guts", Mark gets food poisoning and leaves Lucy to close the show while he dashes off to the toilet. She reads his closing speech from the autocue, ending by reading "Smile. Wave to camera".
- Shaun Micallef's Mad as Hell: After reading a story about robots taking over any job involving repetition, Shaun repeats the phrase "Any job involving repetition" multiple times, then looks and the auto-cue and reads "Turns to follow camera".
- Billy Crystal hosted the 2012 Academy Awards. That year Kodak was filing for bankruptcy and the theater had not yet been renamed the Hollywood and Highland Center.
Billy Crystal: Welcome back to the Your Name Here Theater!
- Dinosaurs: In the episode "What Sexual Harris Meant", Earl reads a prepared statement on the witness stand. "And let me conclude by saying Foreman Harris is a great guy. Monica's been a troublemaker as long as I've known her and I'm pretty sure she cheats on her taxes. Stop here, look up, smile."
- Utopia (2014): In "The Ghost of Christmas Future", the Minister is rehearsing a speech and talks about the new plan for busting traffic congestion and what it will mean for "insert city name here".
Stage manager: Brisbane, minister.
- In Family Ties Alex is roped into working a volunteer shift for a call-in crisis line. When he ends up taking an actual call from a teen who is suicidal, he goes into a panic and has no idea how to help. Frantically he searches through his written guides for something to say. When the caller demands to know if he's reading out of a book, he denies it... but then he gives himself away irretrievably.
Alex: Um, let's reflect for a moment on all the positive aspects in one's life. We can do that, can't we, Insert Name?
Caller: You ARE reading this out of a book!
- This tends to be Dennis's schtick in The Goes Wrong Show, especially in "A Trial To Watch".
Dennis: They kiss. Roll credits.
- In the Wire song "Map Ref. 41°N 93°W", singer Colin Newman says "chorus:" in a conversational tone just before launching into the first chorus.
- The They Might Be Giants song "Protagonist" is sung from the perspective of a screenwriter whose girlfriend left him for another man. During the first two verses, appropriate scene descriptions are recited between lines.
- Invoked in The Lonely Island's "Japan", in which the band frequently describe what they'd be doing in the proposed music video for the song as part of a blatant attempt to fund a really expensive holiday to Japan and get their label to pay for it.
- On a Fox Sports-era episode of TNA Impact, Trinity ended her promo by saying confidently, to the camera, "Trinity enters ring".
- Used as a Running Gag on FCW's "The Aksana Show". One episode even had Aksana struggling to read the teleprompter and her guest had to read it out for her.
- From the third season of NXT (where the commentators leaned heavily on the fourth wall), Michael Cole said out loud to his producers for feeding him a line meant for his broadcast partner.
- The Goon Show:
- Bluebottle does this. One of them became his Catchphrase: "Enter Bluebottle stage left. Pause for audience applause... not a sausage."
- Except when he got plenty of applause and said things like "Yay! Sausinges!"
- New person enters; The Firesign Theatre sometimes does this, too.
- Like most radio newscasters, Paul Harvey read the news stories from paper hardcopy. Early in his career as a radio news broadcaster, Harvey read all the stories from the first page, and then without pausing to think about it read the notation at the bottom of the page: "Now page two". Despite the fact that the notation was never originally intended to be read on the air, Harvey continued doing it, and reading off the page numbers became one of his trademarks.
- Tony Blair in Dead Ringers, as a satire of how media-savvy and "produced" he was seen to be. "PEOPLE... of Britain — insincere smile, sweaty forehead — I speak to you today on the matter of an abject cabinet betrayal — angry eyebrows, pointy finger! — ..."
- Happens in the episode "Getting it Taped" of 60s/70-s BBC Sitcom The Men from the Ministry when Mr. Lamb appears in an amateur play:
Lamb: (In character) All this work and worry, and what do I get? Runs offstage!
- A few radio Blooper compilations feature examples of novice radio commercial announcers doing this:
"Collins Bread is slow-baked. Punch this, that means that—make this sincere—every inch of every loaf is evenly browned, making for delicious, wholesome, super-digestible bread. When your grocer asks you, emphasize this: Be sure you say Collins Bread!"
"It's 8 P.M., B-U-L-O-V-A, Bulova Watch Time. On Christmas, say 'Merry Christmas.' On New Year's, say 'Happy New Year.'"
- Because of supposed budget cuts, one episode of The Burkiss Way starts in "a tea lady reading out the script, only", complete with stage directions and page numbering being read out.
- I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue: The host Humphrey Lyttleton, playing into the gag that he hates his own show, occasionally leans on this in continuity bits.
Teams, I'll be giving you two songs and you'll have to sing the first one to the tune of the latter. Not to mention the piano accompaniment of Colin Sell. ...Oh wait, I wasn't supposed to read that last sentence.
- Sunday in the Park with George:
Marie: George begins to activate the Chromolume machine as...
George: Don't read that part, Grandmother.
- Ellen Terry does this in the play The Actor's Nightmare.
- Enter Laughing is named after an occurrence of this trope where the protagonist, a novice actor, reads the stage direction "Enter Laughing" in his first rehearsal.
- Annie does this in the radio station scene, where Warbucks accidentally reads "drop page" when going to the next page.
- In The Woman in Black, the old man is reading his part, where he plays his boss' secretary:
Man: How do you do today? He sniffs.
- In A Midsummer Night's Dream while rehearsing the Show Within a Show Francis Flute does this, leading to an angry outburst from the director, Peter Quince.
- In Act IV, Scene 2 of As You Like It, there is a song that includes "The rest shall bear this burden." It's unclear whether this is part of the lyrics or a stage direction on the singing (i.e., "The rest of the cast on stage will sing the chorus") and professional troupes have performed it both ways.
- Dog-ear by Sam Nolting, has Scriptreader (a narrator) who reads some of the stage directions. At the end of the play, the protagonists discover her, and promptly steal her script.
- In Pippin, Charlemagne's first line, "This part is to be portrayed by an actor of enormous power," sounds more like a casting note than dialogue. Then again, the show has No Fourth Wall.
- Guys and Dolls: Not a stage direction but Adelaide manages something similar when singing from a medical journal in "Adelaide's Lament" (in some productions; the spoken part is ad-libbed):
(spoken) It says here:
The female remaining single,
Just in the legal sense,
Shows a neurotic tendency. See Note.
(spoken) Tendency see note?
Oh, "see note!"
- Partially justified in Moby Dick - Rehearsed, as the play is meant to be, well, a rehearsal of a stage production of Moby-Dick. As a result, the Stage Manager reads some of the stage directions out loud to illustrate the setting to the "cast" (and audience). It doesn't stop there, though... the pompous Actor-Manager who quotes King Lear as he arrives can't help but speak the stage directions as well.
- There's a Spanish comedy play (can't remember title, sorry) in which a sergeant is dictating a letter, complete with commas and points, to his aunt Veva to a soldier sat in a desk with a bottle and a tray with cakes for her. If you know Spanish you can guess how it endsnote .
- In The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Operatic Society's Production of The Mikado, this is one of the types of Bad "Bad Acting" exhibited by the actress playing Ko-Ko.
Ko-Ko: I can't kill you. I can't kill anybody. Weeps.
- Mischief Theatre loves this one, especially when an understudy suddenly has to step up.
- It's one of the many things that goes wrong in The Play That Goes Wrong. When the female lead Sandra is knocked out, the stage manager Annie is shoved on to the stage with a copy of the script to take her place. Needless to say, she starts reading the stage directions out loud, and ends Act 1 by shouting "Blackout! Intermission!"
- Similarly, in Peter Pan Goes Wrong, Trevor does this when he steps in for Jonathan. Meanwhile, Dennis is reciting his lines from a headset, including stage instructions and the director berating him for doing this.
Dennis: Will you sing us a lullaby, Mother? *radio feedback* No, Dennis, speak with feeling. No, don't repeat that, you idiot.
- The elcor, an alien race from Mass Effect, actually do this normally. Their native language depends on pheromones and other things utterly unlike human speech, but lacks tone and inflection, so they speak in a dull monotone prefaced by the tone of whatever they're going to say: "With barely concealed terror" or "Insincere endorsement: You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have heard him in the voice of elcor."
- If you pay attention to those Shakespeare advertisements, notice that the elcor reading the play don't use their usual prefixes, a Call-Back to the first game where a random elevator announcement details the director's goals of not only bringing Shakespeare to an elcor audience, but also producing a production seemingly devoid of emotion to humans in order to "give audiences a chance to judge Hamlet by his actions, not his emotions".
- Ditto for HK-47 and its HK-50 "clones" in the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic games. The only difference is the fact that the droids would be understood perfectly fine without it but, for some reason, are programmed to do this.
- Ditto for the Glitch (an entire race of sapient robots) in Starbound. Some of the lore implies that they aren't even aware of doing this.
- In No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, Doctor Shake returns and combines this trope with Robo Speak. "Wouldn't you agree, question mark." "Behold! Said dramatically." and "BATTLE CRY.", among other lines.
- Dicey Dungeons has the Baby Squid trying to work as announcer.
Baby Squid: Okay, I'm supposed to spin the wheel... and not say anything about it being rigged... and not read that part out loud.
- In Dink Smallwood mod Cast Awakening: Initiation Death gives a speech about Dink's name being on his list of souls to collect and how it would be nice if Dink were to die fairly soon.
Death: Thank you for your co-operation, Say Your Name Here...
Dink: Dink Smallwood.
- Done for laughs in the fan VGA remake of Space Quest 2. The same line was used in the original, but voice acting was absent.
Roger Wilco: "Hey! What the- (your favorite expletive here)"
- The English dub of Castle Shikigami 2 made this kind of mistake for real, in a cutscene from two-player mode with Roger and Kim. Yes, he actually says "changed voice" out loud.
Roger: First time to meet. Or long time. (changed voice) It's me, Yama.
- A real life error in the localization for Final Fantasy VII. The North American release had a typo on the save screen ("No enough memory left on Memory card."), so the European release sought to fix it. Unfortunately they ended up replacing it with the message "Please change this to 'Memory card full'".
- The kitchen crate description in Hitman: Blood Money is "Allan please add details," likely referring to artist Allan Hansen, who never did. This has become a meme in the community.
- Borderlands 2 references the Hitman: Blood Money example when Gaige suffers increasing Sanity Slippage the more stacks of Anarchy she gains, to the point of becoming a Fourth-Wall Observer. At one point she's lost it so much that her voice actress is seemingly reading notes scrawled on her script.
Gaige: Allan, write some dialog here!!!
- The subtitles in Ray's level in Mighty No. 9 left in the script direction [AD LIB MOANING IN PAIN] in both the demo build and final build◊ of the game. The computer versions corrected this.
- It's relatively common for new items in Kingdom of Loathing to have leftover design notes from the developers in their descriptions. Especially when someone gets an item sooner than they expected to be possible, and they aren't done making it yet.
- In the spirit, but not quite the letter, of this trope, Comrade Vasquez of Tropico 4 will, when asking you to arrest the Capitalist faction's leader, read the entire text box, including the in-game effect, instead of just the first paragraph.
- Saints Row: The Third: The Boss in the Gangstas In Space DLC, cringing on 80% of the dialogue (and being lauded by their boot-licking director every second of it). Fortunately, they get it right on the Enforced Method Acting when the Purple-Skinned Space Babes start firing actual guns.
- Red vs. Blue:
- In the PSA "Planning to Fail", Caboose, acting as a zombie, reads the script as "Moaning... mooooooaaaaaaning..."
- In the season 3 episode "Make Your Time", Caboose reads out his stage directions when acting in Donut's play attempting to explain the Time Travel going on.
Caboose: You told me to read everything with my name in front of it!
- In the "RTX 2018" PSA, Carolina imitates an echo effect and then reads the direction noting that the line should be echoed. When the director tries to call her out, she notes it's his fault as the script had that as regular text instead of in parentheses.
- Many examples of this in Homestar Runner. The wiki has the complete list.
- Ultra Fast Pony: In "The Best Episode Ever", the main characters put on a play. Rarity, acting the role of Princess Plutonium, recites her stage directions and her dialogue tags aloud.
Princess Plutonium: Princess Plutonium that is absolutely not true I hate all of you I'm leaving exit stage left.
- Everybody does this in Epithet Erased. Due to the Limited Animation the characters will often loudly announce what they are doing, referring to themselves in the third person. One of the more notable ones is Giovanni's repeated "Teleports behind you..."
- Penny does this in Penny and Aggie when rehearsing Macbeth: "Exzoont [sic] fighting." (The word she was aiming for was exeunt, the plural of exit as a verb.)
- In Schlock Mercenary, Tagon is forced to represent the Toughs in a trial, and has been given a script by the company lawyer to read. Because it's The Future, it's written on a PDA, which leads to this:
Tagon: Our actions, which we will describe in detail, will be shown to be both immaterial and blameless. Tagon, don't read this part, Ennesby and I will be adjusting your script on the fly.
Petey: Sorry. Do I need to let you check your notes?
Tagon: Will you let me body-check them?
- 8-Bit Theater has an even less sensible version.
Black Mage: Ahem. Good morrow Sir/Madam [select appropriate]. Such lovely/unseasonal [select one] weather we are having, eh what?
- Gunnerkrigg Court: "He says his name is -delay- Shadow."
- Educomix did it in this strip.
Dave: I'm not crap at it, explained Dave, I'm just not as good as Spikeclops is at it...
- Darths & Droids: The player for Kyle Katarn reading a GM note.
Kyle: Let's see here: "Read this in a dramatic voice."
GM: Not the bits in italics.
- Cake Wrecks is a blog displaying unintentionally hilarious cakes made by professional bakers. Overly-literal interpretations of the customer's request are a staple, including the one that started it all.
Best Wishes Suzanne
Under Neat[h] That
We Will Miss You.
- When Alonzo Lerone reads social media messages, he reads them exactly how they're written, emphasising all of the spelling and grammar errors.
"But I wanst to stay with you."
- In requests where the submitter includes lyrics, Andrew will occasionally sing parts of the message that were clearly just further instructions about the song. Some examples would be "Girl Behind the Window", where he sings "Refrain!" before every chorus, and the ending of "Head of a Radio": "Look at Ed's trousers/ The Ed line must be shouted, not sung/ Because he has horrid trousers".
- One song even consisted of the words of the e-mail, which Andrew simply sings back to the listener. Hey, since they only gave him a suggestion, why not?
- Joueur du Grenier: One sponsorship skit for an e-commerce brand had Fred and Seb get off to a great start when Seb goes off-script by saying he prefers to buy local. Fred tells him through clenched teeth to read the prompter, and Seb dutifully complies by reading not only his lines but Fred's as well.
- Songs to Wear Pants To:* BriTANicK has a sketch where Brian is trying to remember the next line in his favorite Shakespearean monologue. Being the good friend he is, Nick starts throwing out random lines, including, "Exeunt, Malvolio."
- In his Internet responses on YouTube, The Man Your Man Could Smell Like reads the punctuation.
- The John Dredge Nothing To Do With Anything Show:
Policeman: Right, I'll get down to the nick and we'll be in touch as soon as there are any developments. (sound of car door) Exits in police car.
- In the How Did This Get Made? episode on Lake Placid, this is the only logical explanation the hosts can agree on for the otherwise nonsensical Brendan Gleeson line, "Everyone's a comedian, sarcastic."
- Texts from Superheroes: A text-message variation when Jarvis mistakes Tony's instructions for dictation◊.
- In The Nostalgia Critic's review of North, the Critic believes that Bruce Willis' narration in the film was so hurried because he just wanted to get it over with so that he could move on to his next gig, and offers a fictional scenario of Willis reading a different version of the script word-for-word:
Critic: (narrating as Willis) North was in a jam. He really didn't relate to his parents. Next page.
- A Running Gag on Twitter is to end a tweet (generally one containing an Incredibly Lame Pun or similar content that the tweeter might be mildly embarrassed about) with the words "send tweet", implying that it was sent immediately on composition, and with futher thought might not have been.
- Kitboga is a scambaiter popular on Twitch and YouTube. He is known be able to bait scammers for hours at a time and one of his gags is to declare "Happy anniversary" and ask the scammers to clap for him upon an hitting an hour mark. His most epic bait to date involves two scammers from the same call center named Adam and Alex, whom he managed to string along for around 37 hours. At the 26 hour mark, he does the usual routine and Adam responds with "Clap for you. Clap clap clap clap."
- RedLetterMedia: After the highly publicized Twitter spat between Mike Stoklasa and William Shatner (or more likely his publicist), Rich ordered a Cameo message from Jonathon Frakes to cheer Mike up. At the end, Rich's script requests that Frakes say a bunch of Star Trek stock phrases, but Frakes just reads the instructions as part of his message.
- During an episode of The Weekenders, Tish signs the group up to do a radio play. They're being forced to read the script when this trope occurs:
Lor: Don't fight, please, she screams.
- Professor Farnsworth in does this in an episode where they're forced to remake the climax of a TV show from the year 1999.
Professor Farnsworth: I'm afraid I must reject your proposal of marriage, for you see, I'm dying. Cough, then fall over dead. (Remains standing and smiles at the camera)
Zoidberg: My God, he's dead.
Professor Farnsworth: (Checks own pulse concernedly)
- Bender plays with this in "That's Lobstertainment!":
Bender: That plot makes perfect sense, wink-wink.
Zoidberg: Bender, you said "wink-wink" out loud.
Bender: No, I didn't, raise middle finger.
- Hermes does it in "Insane in the Mainframe" when "celebrating" Zoidberg's 10th anniversary with Planet Express by reading out of a "Minimum Obligations Manual":
Hermes: Dear employee: has it really been five, ten, or fifteen years? If not, please disregard this and get back to work. Distribute token of appreciation and applaud.
- Professor Farnsworth in does this in an episode where they're forced to remake the climax of a TV show from the year 1999.
- Done in Rocko's Modern Life during a celebrity endorsement for a jackhammer outlet. ("Smile, point to name.")
- The Simpsons:
- An episode had Homer hosting a late-night talk show, and he finished each Cue Card with the words "Next card".
- When he introduced a new burger as a Krusty imitator, he said, "To audience: I now proclaim this new burger for sale!"
- Also when Homer reads his script for Angry Dad.
- Happens in W.I.T.C.H. when Taranee's Astral Drop (a form of magical clone) takes her place as narrator in a School Play, and begins, "Taranee reads dramatically."
- SpongeBob SquarePants:
- Patrick does this in the episode "Nature Pants", where he and Sandy act out a conversation to get SpongeBob to come back after he decides to live out in the wild.
- A junior novelization book that adapted this episode took it even further, with Sandy criticizing Patrick's reading of the stage directions.
- In the Drawn Together episode "Little Orphan Hero", Foxxy Love runs a suicide hotline and greets a caller by reading directly from a script. "Suicide hotline. My name is 'line'. How can I help you? Remember to sound like you care."
- Gazpacho does this at the beginning of the Chowder
- Ed, Edd n Eddy:
- When Ed is reading from cue cards in the episode "Dear Ed". "Sit down and say 'hello, Johnny'". Also inverted, when he interprets actual lines as questions.
Ed: Ask him how... he is!
Edd: (whispering) "How are you?", "How are you?"!
Ed: I'm fine thanks! Okay, a little hungry...
- In "Ed In the Bush", Ed says at the end of the first act "End of first sequence, and fade to black."
- Ed does it again in "Out with the Old, In with the Ed".
Ed: I am exhi-bating my love for, point at May...
- When Ed is reading from cue cards in the episode "Dear Ed". "Sit down and say 'hello, Johnny'". Also inverted, when he interprets actual lines as questions.
- In an episode of Rugrats, Grandpa Lou does this to his own family while selling candy bars door to door:
Lou: Hello, sir or madam. I am visiting your house, apartment, or hotel to ask you to help support my club, group, or organization...
- Inverted in one of Peanuts's many Christmas storylines, Sally is playing the part of an angel in a Nativity play. She follows her line ("Hark!") by explaining to her brother, "Then Harold Angel sings." The viewer is made to think that her line is actually "Hark! The herald angel sings!" (as in the carol) and she's misreading this as stage direction, until the end where Harold Angel introduces himself to Chuck.
- Beavis and Butt-Head, working at a telemarketing office, read their script sheets verbatim: "Hello. My name is 'Your Name'."
- The Hanna-Barbera cartoon character Snagglepuss always announces, "exit, stage right!" (or left) whenever he runs off somewhere.
- Slappy Squirrel does it in an episode (the one all the characters were stuck in the wrong show) of Animaniacs.
- One element of Team Chris Is Really Really Really Really Hot's So Bad, It's Good commercial in an episode of Total Drama World Tour was Owen dressed as a monster shouting (the phrase) "Monster noises!"
- On Jimmy Two-Shoes, when Beezy is reading a blatant lie off a cue card, he finishes by reading "The End".
- From All Grown Up!, Angelica has Harold publicly beg her to go to the dance with him so she can make another boy jealous, complete with cue cards. The cherry is Harold dramatically saying "get down on bended knee!".
- The Creeper in Batman: The Animated Series speaks like this even though he has no script.
You're working for—dramatic pause—the Joker!
- Similarly, from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- The first episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold has Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes) do a scriptless version during a Rousing Speech; Batman tells him "Now, wrap it up", and Jaime unwittingly uses that as the closing line of his speech. Amusingly, this leads to the little amoeba-like aliens to whom he's speaking cheering "NOW WRAP IT UP!"
- This is a Running Gag on Bojack Horseman, as Diane or Mr. Peanutbutter hire someone for lettering that doesn't quite grasp the concept of instructions vs. what they want written down.
- Bojack himself does this on occasion.
Bojack: (reading from cue cards) Princess Carolyn. Clear throat. clears throat
- Bojack himself does this on occasion.
- In the Big Hero 6: The Series episode "The Revenge of Von Steamer", Baron von Steamer does this in his ultimatum to Boss Awesome:
Von Steamer: Meet me in Night Market Square at noon tomorrow for an epic showdown. Otherwise I'll dramatic pause destroy the city! Wha? Uh, I didn't mean to read "dramatic pause" but, in fact, to pause dramatically. Well, you get the gist.
- The Day My Butt Went Psycho!: In "Bring Me the Butt of Silas", the mayor is making a speech:
"And now it is time to thank our protector. Points to Silas."
- An episode of Big Mouth has Connie Monstress appearing in a science fiction-ish skit where she reads her "lines" as "Chewbacca sound" (including one case where she actually makes the requested noise, but still also says "Chewbacca sound").
- Steven Universe: In "Gemcation", Garnet demonstrates that the proposal for the trip was rehearsed as she speaks the physical directions out loud when helping Greg convince Steven to go on vacation. And that Greg told her to say it with more enthusiasm.
Amethyst: Yeah. And you'll be with your favorite Gems, and your favorite dad.
Garnet: Agree with Amethyst. Turn to Steven. Steven, you should go. No, with more enthusiasm. Steven, it's a vacation! [thumbs-up]
- Rick and Morty:
- Done in "Look Who's Purging Now" with the lighthouse owner telling Morty to give him opinions about his stage play. The problem is the owner is reading a script, forcing him to constantly read stage directions and names, boring Morty.
- Done once more in "Rickmancing the Stone" with Rick replacing Morty and Summer with robots trying to behave like them. Robot Morty has to say the [[quotemode]] tag to hold a normal conversation.
- Comedian Victor Borge invented his own method of speaking punctuations and then had Dean Martin sing it.
- Barack Obama used (and likely lampshaded) this trope at his speech on the White House correspondents dinner, most likely to mock people who claim he can't speak without a teleprompter.
Obama: I had an entire speech prepared for this wonderful occasion, but now that I'm here, I'd like to speak from the heart. Speak off the cuff. (two teleprompters rise noisily in front of him) Good evening! Pause for laughter.
- During a 1987 testimony to the Tower Commission regarding the Iran-Contra affair, Ronald Reagan read aloud from the instructions written by his aides: "If the question comes up at the Tower Board meeting, you might want to say that you were surprised."
- In 2015 British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn inserted "Strong message here" into a speech.
- Nicholas Parsons did this by accident while hosting Have I Got News for You. Made funnier/worse by the fact that Paul had been making jokes all episode about his supposed senility, so while everybody else was cracking up he just shook his head sadly.
- An audience member Jimmy Carr had brought up on stage to ask a few scripted questions for him to react to and deliver a set of punchlines to did this when the last bullet-point on her list said 'Any other questions', which she simply read out bemusedly, instead of asking a question of her own as it was intended. Jimmy just ran with it.
- CNN news anchor Rich Sanchez: Up next: Ad lib! A tease! For people not located in the U.S..
- The drinking song "Feta fransyskor", popular among Swedish university students, ends with the ladies singing "Do you take us for drunkards?" and the gentlemen responding "Yes, although larger!" (freely translated). According to legend, the strange reply was originally intended to be simply "Yes!", although the text size of the word was to be somewhat larger when the song was printed. This instruction was misinterpreted as actual lyrics, however, and printed together with the rest. Since people liked the mistake, it was made a tradition to sing it this way — a rare case of singing the layout directions out loud.
- Actress Téa Leoni once said she did this in an audition, early in her career. She thought "(Beat)" was some kind of street lingo.
- A page that once was on the official Pokémon website seems to include a note and written directions by accident◊.
- Done in one of the entries in an amateur script competition by the now-defunct Insomniak Theatre Company in Pennsylvania. The director read all of the stage directions out loud while the play was being performed. It was particularly egregious because the characters were performing the actions while they were being read.
- John Waters says a lot of takes were ruined in his underground days due to Edith Massey's tendency to do this.
- Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who is famous for being a spectacular malaproper when giving speeches, managed to read "fin de la cita" (end quote) a total of nine times during a debate. Every other party leader proceeded to mock it in their speeches, and #findelacita became a brief meme in the Spaniard Twitter.
- Common in real life as a way for people to humorously point out the hypocrisy or irony in their statements. For example, "I do try to eat as healthily as I can, she said, reaching for another slice of pizza."
- Back in the 1750s, the British Dobree family ordered from a Chinese manufacturer a porcelain plate with their coat of arms. They sent the enamelers a black-and-white sketch of the design, the proper colors indicated in text. Unfortunately, the Chinese enamelers couldn't read English and mistook the words "red" and "green" for an actual part of the design (for added fun, the "red" region was painted green and vice versa).
- In the 1992 election George H. W. Bush was talking to a group of unemployed citizens and read the lines out "Message: I care."
- Urban Legend has it that John Wayne did this on the set of The Greatest Story Ever Told. The story goes that the director coached him to say his line more reverently: "Not like that—say it with awe!" On the next take, the Duke delivered his line: "Aw, truly this was the Son of God!" (When asked if the story was true, Wayne denied it, but said it was Actually Pretty Funny.)
- FOX Sports' Dick Stockton did this while reading off a promo during a football game in 2017.
On the Visa Haltime Report, Curt, Terry, Howie, Michael, and Tony look on graphic for the final two bullet points.
- On April 25, 2022, the Russian intelligence organization FSB released a video purporting to show a police raid of a terrorist cell. One piece of "evidence" recovered at the scene was a book with an inscription signed by "Signature Unclear." Western journalists were quick to speculate that the book was manufactured by the FSB themselves and supposed to bear an illegible signature, but the instructions got misunderstood somewhere along the chain of command. Footage of the book was later edited out of the version uploaded to the FSB Youtube channel.