Dog & Pony Show
Chris from Petoskey
asked about the phrase, dog and pony show. In our day, it has taken a pejorative turn. It implies that a
presentation is merely showy, without depth. It is a spectacle meant purely to
impress the unaware. It is often applied to political and military briefings,
to sales presentations, and to desperate press conferences following a scandal.
Originally, however, it
was a literal title. If a town couldn’t attract a full-scale circus (a highly
sought-after 19th century form of entertainment) because the population was too
small or too poor, there was an alternative: a scaled down form of
entertainment involving ponies and dogs. Such shows were enthusiastically
received by their audiences. Something was much better than nothing when you
lived in the boonies.
The small scale of the
operation and the fact that it was deemed not good enough to be a real circus
led to the negative connotation.
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