A Genius Is This And That

Here’s an audience participation skit - ideal for large group meetings or banquets. There is
only one character - the narrator or storyteller - and there is no rehearsal or scenery
necessary. Just pick your narrator with care! He is the key to success.

Before he tells the story, the narrator divides the audience into 5 groups and assigns each
a “part” - a sound and action each group makes at the mention of a certain word. The
narrator pauses after each capitalized word. The words and their responses are:

CHARACTERS: NORMAN Say “Oh, my!” and raise both hands
RIGHT Say “This!” and raise right hand
LEFT Say “That!” and raise left hand
THIS Say “Right!” and raise right hand
THAT Say “Left!” and raise left hand
GENIUS All clap and Cheer!

Well, now that everyone is entirely confused, let’s begin!

NARRATOR: This is the story of NORMAN, a boy who wanted very much to be a GENIUS. But, no
matter how hard he tried, it just didn’t work out. You see, NORMAN had a problem -
he could not tell RIGHT from LEFT.

At school, the teacher would say, “When you know the answer, raise your RIGHT
hand.” By the time NORMAN figured which hand was which, it was too late! At home,
it was the same thing. It was, “NORMAN, you have your LEFT shoe on your RIGHT

Things weren’t any better outside. In football, they would send him in at the LEFT end and
he would be RIGHT. In baseball, they’d yell, “NORMAN, ‘move to your LEFT!” He’d
move RIGHT.

Poor NORMAN! No matter what he did, it wasn’t RIGHT! or LEFT! But NORMAN
was determined! Finally, he figured out what to do. He’d call it THIS and THAT. THIS
for RIGHT and THAT for LEFT. Somehow, it all seemed easier. And in no time, he
had it down pat.

One day, while NORMAN was home alone, a burglar forced his way in. NORMAN was
frightened! The burglar asked where his mother’s jewels and furs were. NORMAN said,
“In the closet.” But when the burglar said, “Which way is THAT, NORMAN, of course,
answered, “LEFT.” The burglar followed these instructions and found himself in the
kitchen! Being a smart burglar he said, “THIS isn’t RIGHT!” and NORMAN said,
“Oh, yes it is - but you asked for THAT!”

The burglar became angry and said, “Now listen, I asked where the closet is, do you
understand THAT?” And NORMAN answered, “Oh, yes, THAT is LEFT!” The
burglar said, “THIS is enough!” And NORMAN said, “Oh, no, THIS is RIGHT!”
Exasperated, the burglar said, “Oh, forget it! Just tell me where the closet is!” And
NORMAN said, “Turn THIS.” But naturally, the burglar misunderstood and turned the
knob on the door in front of him, and plunged headlong down the basement stairs.
Just then, NORMAN’s parents came home, and when he told them what had happened,
his father said the words he’d been waiting so very long to hear, “NORMAN, you’re a


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