The Greatest Show on EarthIndian Nations Council
How To Wash An Elephant
Before introducing this stunt, choose three people to leave the room. They should not overhear the narrator. Narrator explains to audience that the stunt is called "How to Wash an Elephant", a classic example in communications. He tells the following story and pantomimes the motions as he goes.
Narrator:One morning, Farmer Friendly went out to the barn to begin his chores (pantomime walking). He threw open the barn door, and to his surprise, he found an elephant in his barn (pantomime throwing open door, surprise). The farmer didn't know what to do with the elephant so he decided that the first thing to do was to wash it. He led the elephant from the barn (pick up the elephant's trunk and walking with it over your shoulder, open and close barn door). He left the elephant near the pump, got a bucket and scrub brush and pumped the bucket full of water (pantomime the actions). Now he was ready to begin. First he scrubbed the left side (lift up elephant's ear and wash that). Then he was ready for the stomach (lie down on floor; wriggle under elephant and scrub underside). Next, the right side (repeat actions as for left side). Then he scrubbed the elephant's face (pantomime scrubbing between eyes and down length of trunk). Almost done (walk to rear of the elephant, gingerly lift up tail and quickly scrub there). There, that's done! (Pantomime throwing out rest of water, putting the brush in bucket and setting bucket beside pump. Take the elephant by his trunk and lead him back to the barn, open door, lead him in, go out and shut door behind.)
Narrator tells audience he will call people back in, one by one, and pantomime the stunt, without benefit of narrative. The first person will do what he remembers for the second person, and so on. He will, of course, have no idea what the motions mean, so it can be very funny. By the time the actions are pantomimed for the third person, it will be distorted and bear little resemblance to the original version.
After all three have tried their luck, the narrator explains the story and tells them what they were doing.
Hang a sheet or blanket in front of the audience. Announce the marvelous invention of an enlarging machine, and ask for objects to be enlarged. A stick is fed into the machine, out rolls a large log. Next, a rock is put in, and a boulder rolls out. A lady enters with a baby in her arms, stands next to the machine while searching in her purse, and accidentally drops her baby into the machine. Out runs a giant "baby" which has been previously dressed up and carries its mother offstage crying "MA MA!"
Characters:2 fishermen, little boy. All three have a stick with a short string on it as a fishing rod.
Scene:Two boys with "fishing rods" are standing together fishing through the ice. The rods hang without moving, as the boys are not catching anything.
Boy 1:Boy, am I cold. I don't know how I let you talk me into coming out in the middle of the night to go ice fishing. My feet are frozen to the ice, my nose is running, my ears are like ice, and I haven't even had a bite.
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