|Quotes • Headscratchers • Playing With • Useful Notes • Analysis • Image Links • Haiku • Laconic|
However, the audience gets to see them more privately, and they are shown as a normal local, or at least as seemingly normal. They'll explain that it's all an act that makes them seem exotic, or puts people off guard, or it gets them laid. They may resent the act, and the things they have to do for it.
Sometimes, this trick is done with someone who is from another country, but is actually pretty sane; they simply play it up. At other times, this trope is used to justify an actor's appalling accent.
Anime unt Manga
- Kaere/Kaede Kimura of Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei fits into the typical Foreign Fanservice image and has a type two Eagle Land characterization, particularly her frequent threats to sue people. However, she falls into this because of her ridiculous claims about her (never named) home country, and a couple of episodes reference the fact she pretends to speak English, but actually barely knows a single word, and was only briefly outside of Japan. When he first meets her, Majiru Itoshiki actually calls her a "blond fake foreigner".
- Chada of Nie A_7 is an alien that pretends to be an Indian. To be precise, he's a dark skinned alien that purchased a cheap turban and started acting like an Indian.
Les Bandes Desinees
- In one issue of She Hulk, the Great Gambonnos of the Circus of Crime, Funny Foreigners of long standing in the Marvel Universe, drop their stereotypical Italian accents when they've been found out. "Drop the act, Ernie, she's onto us."
- General Wolfram, a wolf-themed villain claiming to be "the genetic terror of the Third Reich". Apparently he faked the Nazi angle and the accent for distinctiveness' sake/to draw heat away from his real identity. Venom, impersonating Spider-Man, calls him "Castle Wolfenstein" and eats his arm for his trouble.
- Kasper Cole affects a Wakandan accent and speech patterns in his guise as the White Tiger, mainly to throw people off his identity (because how many white Wakandan Jews do you know?)
- This backfires when he tries the routine on Everret Ross, who not only has been to Wakanda, he was its acting regent and is a personal friend of T'Challa's. The accent isn't even close to accurate, according to Ross.
- Asia Minor, in Fallen Angel, does the Obfuscating Stupidity version.
- Fantomex (aka Weapon XIII from X-Men) uses a French accent — not because he's French, but because the accent "annoys people" according to him — making it easier to catch them off guard.
- The Pre Crisis version of the Wonder Twins become this after a human heard the name of their home planet from their mouth.
- In X-Men Noir, Chief Magnus inverts this; a Transian native who emigrated to the US, he took diction lessons for sixteen months to achieve a perfect American accent.
- An issue of G.I. Joe: Special Missions had the Joes looking for Nazi war criminals in Brazil, when they stumble across a band of stereotypical Latin American guerillas in the jungle. Recondo quickly sees through their cover: they're Sephardic Jews from Mossad hunting the same prey.
- Wealthy playboy Rodney Gaynor adopted a Mexican accent whenever he became the Whip, an obscure in The DCU from The Golden Age of Comic Books. A modern-day retelling of his origin retconned him to actually having Hispanic ancestry.
- When the Legion of Super-Heroes was rebooted in the 90s, Chameleon Boy was introduced as not speaking Interlac. Several story arcs went by with other characters attempting to teach him the language, only to get frustrated. Finally it was revealed that he had finally learned Interlac, but was continuing to pretend he didn't understand it in order to lure the villains of the moment into a false sense of security.
- X-Statix once battled a European super team called Euro-Trash. One of their members was Surrender Monkey; who was essentially a walking embodiment of every negative stereotype Americans have regarding the French. A later story revealed that Surrender Monkey was not French, but actually an expatriate American.
- In Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Pirelli plays himself up as a stylish, eccentric Italian barber. He's British. And to top it off, he's played by someone known for intentionally annoying, exagerrated stereotypes of several different ethnicities.
- In Police Academy, there was a character who pretended to have a Spanish accent, because the ladies love it.
- In the dark comedy Human Nature, a female character adopts a fake French accent and persona to make herself more attractive to men.
- In the movie Trading Places, the protagonists disguise themselves as exaggerated foreigners, with Dan Ackroyd pretending to be a Jamaican, Jamie Lee Curtis' Hooker with a Heart of Gold as a Norse by Norsewest Swede, and Eddie Murphy as an African.
- Several Peter Sellers characters (some already from other countries) affect this trope on occasion, particularly Inspector Clouseau. The effectiveness of the disguises, and thus the involved accents, varies depending on the plot.
- In Cannibal! The Musical the Alfred Packer and co. encounter Indians who are actually Japanese guys in disguise.
Bell: Could you tell me what tribe this is?
- My Fair Lady: "Although she may have studied with an expert dialectitian and grammarian/I can tell that she was born...Hungarian!" Of course, Eliza was a funny foreigner to that particular social circle, but not in the way Zoltan Karpathy thought.
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade — Indy impersonates a disgruntled Scottish collector of tapestries to gain access to an Austrian castle. When the guise doesn't work as well as hoped, Indy quickly resorts to Plan B. Guess what that is?
- The Marx Brothers' movies occasionally imply that Chico's characters are not really Italian. In Animal Crackers, Chico recognizes a respected art dealer as "Abie the fish man":
Ravelli (Chico): How did you get to be Roscoe W. Chandler?
- and in A Night at the Opera, which begins in Italy, he and Groucho have this exchange.
Driftwood (Groucho): Well, things certainly seem to be getting better around the country.
- The young protagonist of Breaking Away is a bicyclist who charms a girl he likes by pretending to be an Italian bicyclist. It works... for a while.
- Monty Python and The Holy Grail lampshades this with the French Knights. "Ah'm Franch! Why do you theenk ah 'ave zis OUT-ray-juice accent, you silly king?"
- The Discworld book Maskerade had Enrico Basilica, a trained opera singer, who realised that he'd never make it in Opera as boring old Henry Slugg, so he pretended not to speak a word of the language and demanded to be treated to exotic food. However, he came to regret being trapped in the Basilico persona; he also came to be sick of the pasta his hosts always cooked him, when what he really wanted was a good pork pie and a beer.
- This is a fairly common joke in the Discworld novels. A Hat Full of Sky mentions a pair of circus acrobat twins who used the same foreign-name ruse for the same reason.
- An example of a character playing up their identity is 71-hour Ahmed in Jingo, who finds it convenient to be a stereotypical Klatchian who stepped straight from Arabian Nights, but can actually speak Morpokian with barely a trace of an accent (which he could do because he was, like so many, schooled in Ankh-Morpork as a youth), and even takes on Ankh-Morpork mannerisms when in Klatch. As he explains, "Always be a little bit foreign wherever you are, because everyone knows foreigners are a little bit stupid." Incidentally, he tipped his hand about the Obfuscating Stupidity quite early on, seeing something of a kindred spirit in Sam Vimes, yet still managed to surprise him with his mastery of the language.
- Then there's Otto von Chriek, the mostly-harmless vampire photographer, who dresses silly and speaks with a thick accent and is generally a nice guy, even though if he wanted to he could rip your limbs out of their sockets and beat you to death with them. He explains that being so silly, no one takes a second glance...even when you're taking pictures of an anti-vampire demonstration.
- And virtually every (non-Uberwaldian) Igor — they don't have to speak with the accent, lithp and call everyone marthter. It'th tradithional.
- In the TV version Twoflower admits he only pretends not to know the language because it's all part of the image.
- In Pyramids, Ptraci speaks Ephebian with a ptrace of her Djelibeybi accent, because it sounds more exotic. Pteppic understands: "An assassin is supposed to be a little bit foreign wherever he goes. I'm good at that part".
- As a parody of the Poirot Speak used by similar characters in adventure movies, George Macdonald Fraser's novel The Pyrates has one pirate with an atrocious French accent who is revealed to have been a working class Englishman who was one day knocked on the head in the middle of a beginning of a French language course, and ended up with a dashing, "Pepe le Pew" persona.
- The villain of Anthony Trollope's novel The Way We Live Now, Melmotte, sort of ended up as this because the author ultimately avoided making him an evil foreigner from a specific country. While he is most likely Jewish and/or French, there is also the possibility that he is Irish-American and arguably the fact he claims to be an English citizen leaves open a further possibility.
- "Madame Lulu" and "Gunther" in A Series of Unfortunate Events, whose "foreignness" derives mostly from their strange accents, mangled syntax, and overuse of the word "Please".
- Inverted with Zampanò from House of Leaves. He claimed to be American, yet seemed foreign. The Other Wiki's discussion page seems to think Zampanò was French.
- Religious example: In John Ringo and Travis Taylor's Into the Looking Glass novel Vorpal Blade, one of the Marines (nicknamed "Gunga Din") claimed, when recruited, to be Hindu, simply because he didn't want to be an atheist like the parents he hated. Doubly subverted in that a) he's actually of Indian descent, and b) once he'd made the decision, he decided to be serious about it, and has been slowly learning about the religion ever since.
- John Steinbeck's East of Eden uses this with the Chinese Lee. He speaks when he first appears in the book in stereotypical You No Take Candle fashion, but when a character comments he can't possibly talk like that all the time, he drops the act and speaks normally for the rest of the book.
- The end of The Dresden Files book White Night shows Thomas pretending to be a gay Frenchman ("Toe-moss") to play up to the expectations of his beauty salon's customers.
- Two examples of this from Murder on the Orient Express Countess Elena Andrenyi and her mother, Mrs. Hubbard. Judging by their names, they are Jewish-American and from a family of actors, but instead take on false personas of a Hungarian aristocrat and an extremely anoying Eaglelander. A lot of the novel has to do with the characters not necessarily fitting their National Stereotypes, and it isn't too surprising that the book would have this theme, since the detective, Poirot, is himself something of a Fauxreigner as part of Obfuscating Stupidity.
- A particularly notable case of Hercule Poirot acting as the Fauxreigner comes when he visits the Abernathie house in After the Funeral. Although Poirot is playing his actual nationality there, he is pretending to be an elderly refugee from WWII who can barely speak or understand English as opposed to the savy detective who has lived in England for more than 30 years.
- The Count of Monte Cristo, who variously presents himself as English and Italian and hints at even more exotic origins.
- In Past Mortem by Ben Elton, British-born Roger Jameson has been passing himself off as American for many years after joining the NYPD (although it appears he eventually took US citizenship.)
- Dare to Love by Jennifer Wilde features "Elena Lopez", a British dancer/courtesan pretending to be Spanish. She is based on the real-life Lola Montez: see Truth in Television below.
- One of the Trebizon books included a girl finding out that a famous "Russian" ballerina she idolized was really an English woman pretending to be Russian to advance her career.
- The landlord of The Young Ones spoke in a ridiculous Funny Foreigner accent when he spoke to the main characters that made him sound like an idiot, but spoke in a normal British accent when alone. He claimed that he did the accent because "it makes me sound more sophisticated".
- These characters were supposed to be Russian, and played by Alexei Sayle, who is of Lithuanian descent. His parents were communists as well, so the characters may have been a reference to this.
- It's lampshaded on at least two occasions on The Muppet Show that the Scandinavian gibberish spoken by the Swedish Chef is not actually the Swedish language. On the first, after this is revealed, it's commented that although the Chef would like to start language classes, he has to feed his family. On the second, after the Chef's language is referred to as Mock Swedish, the other characters demand he speak in his true language, prompting him to speak in an oriental gibberish identified as Mock Japanese by that week's guest star, Jean Stapleton, who also speaks it.
- Though Björn Borg converses fluently with the Chef in his usual lingo, thus suggesting that it is Swedish.
- Nelson on Life On Mars 2006 does the Obfuscating Stupidity variant of this. He asks Sam to keep it to himself, as "folks just seem happier with the other Nelson."
- Coronation Street once did a Story Arc about Fred marrying a Thai girl named Orchid. She turned out to be very British, and named Stacey.
- Marco Espinoza on Scrubs really is Dominican, but doesn't tell anyone he's learned English. Not even his sister Carla.
- A more regional version is seen, and played with, on The Jeff Foxworthy Show. A WASP-ish neighbor comes to the house to visit, and Jeff's normally-low-key Southern accent is ramped Up to Eleven. When Jeff's wife asks him about it, he laughs and reveals he does it intentionally just to bug the guy.
Jeff: "It kills him he lives next to Foghorn Leghorn!"
- This one's old enough to have been used on I Love Lucy, when a French man attempts to seduce Lucy away from Ricky; after having (apparently) succeeded, he rejects Lucy, stating that he simply couldn't bring himself to sleep with a married woman. He goes on to explain that he only behaves like a homewrecking lech because that's what Americans expect French men to be like, and he hates to disappoint people.
- According to Word of God, this is what happens to Jeff from Coupling eventually: He stays on the Isle of Lesbos, not speaking a word of Greek and spouting whatever comes to mind while claiming to only speak Hebrew.
- Arastoo on Bones used an accent for his first few episodes. He's a devout Muslim in a room full of scientists who don't agree with religion, so he figured that if he pretended to be "fresh off the boat" he'd get less crap from them.
- Jack's fiancee, Phoebe, from the first season of Thirty Rock, is implied to be not quite as British as she pretends to be.
- Adam Klaus of Jonathan Creek is a fake American in Britain.
- The DJ in the Doctor Who story Revelation of the Daleks broadcasts an American-style radio show with an American accent, but really speaks with a British one in private conversations with Peri and when making snide comments.
- Johnny Vong in the Castle episode "Sucker Punch" is a Harvard-graduate from California who took the accent of a Laotian immigrant and made millions selling a Rags to Riches success story and heroin.
- Comedian/writer Bill Dana's famous Jose Jimenez, originally created for sketch comedy both on stage and television, eventually became the central character of both his own Sitcom, The Bill Dana Show (here's a sample), as well as at least one cartoon adaptation.
- The maitre d' of the Chinese restaurant in Persons Unknown
- Barney on How I Met Your Mother once pretended to be an Estonian street performer to convince Marshall and Lily to start trying for a baby.
- Frequently done on Allo Allo between the Nazis, the French, and the British airmen
- Goodness Gracious Me lampshaded the use of the trope in films with a parody of The Great Escape where a team of captured Indian prisoners of war pretend to be German in order to escape the POW camp. Their excuse is that they are from East Germany — "very East."
- Little Britain features the characters of Dudley and his Thai Mail Order Bride Ting Tong Macadangdang. Dudley comes to realise over the course of several episodes that Ting Tong is not quite who she claims to be — including the fact that she was born in Tooting (London), not a remote Thai village as she originally said.
- In an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the team stops what they think is an attack on a Muslim woman. It turns out that the screaming woman is neither Muslim nor of Middle Eastern descent, and that the rape is actually part of a hardcore porn movie being filmed. The actress is proud of "getting the accent right," but the SVU team are not impressed.
- Jonny Jakobsen's act revolves around this on his albums as Dr Bombay (faux Indian), Dr MacDoo (faux Scot), and Carlito (faux Mexican).
Di Restling Proffessionario
- Booker T. Just... Booker T. Having won WWE's King of the Ring tournament, he began affecting the cape and crown as an every day fashion, behaving as if he really were the king of the world, and speaking with a ridiculously-bad British accent. Then he went to TNA and, after having politicked his way into a private dressing room (TNA, working smaller venues than WWE, doesn't give them as a manner of course), he turned it into his own personal pleasure dome, started walking around in Hefner-esque silk robes, and began affecting a ridiculously-bad African accent and constantly talking about how things are in "his country". Keep in mind, the entire time, he's still billed as being from Houston, Texas, and if he gets pushed far enough, he has a tendency to lapse back into American urban slang.
- Santino Marella and Roddy Piper are the correct enthicities to their characters, they're actually Canadians. The former even had a Russian gimmick in developmental.
- In the early part of his WWE run, Kofi Kingston was billed as being from Jamaica, and spoke with a thick Jamaican accent. While he still uses the same reggae entrance theme, he's since dropped the accent and started to be billed from his actual home country of Ghana, which Triple H lampshaded:
"Aren't you supposed to be Jamaican? What happened to your accent?"
El Boxo di Soundo
- From an episode of The Goon Show featuring the characters of Justin Eidelburger and Yakamoto:
Eidelburger (Peter Sellers): Now get in this zeppelin, mit aus kabloongen volkischer bierwerken kreuzkrrrgggg...
- One of my favorite examples is the stage play The Foreigner by Larry Shue. Charlie is actually an Englishman in backwoods Georgia, but is so shy and depressed that he doesn't want to have to talk to anyone. His friend, Froggy then sets up the premise that Charlie is a foreigner who can't speak any English and therefore should just be left alone. Well, that doesn't quite work out as planned, but Hilarity Ensues and fortunately, it all works out in the end.
- In the operetta Die Fledermaus, several of the characters attend Prince Orlovsky's ball incognito as foreign noblemen and -women. Lindy Hume's English-language adaptation, first produced by Opera Australia in the 1990s, goes one better by revealing at the very end that Orlovsky himself is not really a foreign nobleman either.
- Adolfo Pirelli, the self-proclaimed 'King of the Barbers and the Barber of Kings' who claims to have shaved the King of Naples and the Pope and who is all the rage in London, in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. It turns out he is really Daniel O'Higgens, an Irishman who was Todd's assistant as a boy.
Gameo di Video
- Olga Orly in Apollo Justice : Ace Attorney. Possibly Klavier Gavin as well, depending on whether or not you go for the Alternate Character Interpretation.
- Also Lamiroir.
- Armstrong in Trials and Tribulations seems to be faking the whole "French chef" thing. The judge picks up on this when Armstrong mistakenly uses Spanish instead of French.
- Mimi Miney from Justice For All ends up living her sister's life despite the fact that she hates every thing about it, including the "parapsychology" classes her deceased sister took — however she never reveals if she meant to murder her own sister or whether the car crash was an accident. Needless to say, the entire case pivots around her.
- Bioshock did this with Atlas, actually New York mobster Frank Fontaine putting on an Irish accent. It slips from time to time with certain words. Later in the game after The Reveal of his actual identity, Fontaine briefly puts on the Atlas voice again with even more exaggeration and Irish stereotyping just to mock Jack.
- The Asian bookstore owner in Fahrenheit (2005 video game). When policeman, Tyler Miles, meets him, he pretends to be an clumsy Chinese Old Master. After Tyler manages to solve his puzzle, he drops the act and explains that he only does it because he do not want to sell books to stupid people. He also reveals that he was in fact born in and never left Brooklyn.
- Clay from Pokémon Black and White is a Japanese man who got rich in America by finding oil, and apparently moved to Unova. Due to the art style and his persona, he comes off as an American born Southerner. He may, or may not, be playing the part of a Southerner; or possibly he became one when he moved.
- In Dreamfall we meet a store owner with a long wispy beard, something resembling a traditional outfit, and a ridiculous accent (even in the Russian version!) The Let's Play names him Horrific Chinese Stereotype. Eventually he drops it.
- An example of the milder variety from The Onion: Hostel-Dwelling Swede Getting Laid Big Time
- While he is a foreigner, Bandit Keith in Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series isn't actually from America , despite his American jingoism. He's Canadian, in North America.
- In the original Pepe le Pew short, Pepe reveals he's not really French, but liked playing the "French lover" role. This was removed from his later appearances.
- Averted with his student from Tiny Toon Adventures, Fifi LaFume, who is actually French.
- In Danny Phantom, Gregor/Elliot from Hungary/Michigan.
- "Mao" on Frisky Dingo, a white dry cleaner pretending to be Chinese in order to qualify for a minority business loan.
- "Those loans are for non-threatening women of color!"
- And Grace Ryan's incredibly racist "disguise" as a Chinese woman.
- A flashback at the beginning of the Venture Brothers episode "Now Museum, Now You Don't" shows Dr. Jonas Venture Sr. infiltrating Scaramantula's inner circle as the Japanese Dr. Fandragon. The disguise includes using his fingers to pull his eyelids back and a superfluous third nipple (on his chin). Scaramantula seems to notice that Fandragon isn't actually Japanese, but can't seem to put together that it's specifically Dr. Venture.
Dr. Venture: You've forgotten one thing, Scaramantula.
- One episode of The Simpsons had owners of a Chinese Restaurant slip into a heavy stereotype to please Homer.
- Kairi in Batman Beyond fakes a heavy Japanese accent because it sells more fish that way. She speaks normally when she isn't working or teaching her students.
- In the Home Movies episode "Four's Company", Octavio seduces Melissa this way.
Veritas in Televisione
- "Chinese" magician Chung Ling Soo was actually an American, William Ellsworth Robinson, who pretended to be Chinese not only on stage but all the time. Only his family, and several other stage magicians knew the truth. He avoided speaking English for 19 years, until he was killed when a bullet catch went wrong. His reported last words were, "My god, I've been shot."
- "Princess Caraboo", actually Mary Wilcocks Baker, a former servant girl who became a sensation in early 19th-Century England by pretending to be a foreign princess who had washed up on British shores after escaping from the pirates who had kidnapped her. In 1994 the story was made into a movie, starring Phoebe Cates as Caraboo/Baker.
- "George Psalmanazar", who pretended to be Formosan long before anyone in Europe knew where Formosa (aka Taiwan) actually was or who really lived there. He wrote an absolutely awesome book in English on Formosa that was translated into French and German and was even asked to lecture at Oxford University. He admitted his imposture some years later after numerous attacks by skeptics, but to this day his real name is unknown.
- Sacha Baron Cohen, whose characters Borat and Brüno are based around this trope.
- Mata Hari, the wife of a diplomat, come back from Borneo claiming to be an adopted priestess inducted in the native (read: fictional) practices of Indonesia. She became an international sex symbol in Europe. Unfortunately for her, the Moral Guardians of the time (World War I) had her executed as a German spy.
- A significant of the Republic of Ireland's national football side in the Eighties and Nineties, due to the qualification rules. They're still in place, and similar situations can and do happen with other national sides, extending to other sports as well...
- The embodiment of "Yellow Peril" in movies and TV was Khigh Dghieh ("Yen Lo" in The Manchurian Candidate; "Wo Fat" on Hawaii Five-O). He was really named Kenneth Dickerson and was not of Asian descent.
- Benjamin Franklin did this while asking for help with the American Revolution while in France. An upper crust British-born gentleman wearing a coon skin cap?
- 19th-century courtesan Lola Montez, born in Ireland as Eliza Gilbert but spent most of her career passing herself off as a Spanish noblewoman.
- That is to say he isn't from the United States of America