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An Expert's Guide to Playing Dumb

Updated on April 21, 2011

So you want to play dumb? Well, you've come to the right girl. I have been playing dumb for years, and must say that playing dumb is more than just an act. Nay, to the truly adept, playing dumb is both a sport and a highly refined art.

What follows is an educated guide to playing dumb, filled with tried and true methods practiced by Yours Truly. Use these powers for good, young grasshopper. They are not to be trifled with.


Embrace Method Acting

In order to play dumb with true alacrity, you must BE dumb. Dumber than a lamp post. Dumber than a bag o' hammers. Dumber than... Well, you get the idea.

When you play dumb, you've got to really go for it. It is not enough to simply mouth the lines and hope your audience is good at suspending disbelief. You must welcome stupidity to the core of your being and assume the entire, dim mindset of the dumb-you you're trying to dish out.

This is the most advanced level of playing dumb, and I understand if you have trouble embracing utter stupidity from the get-go. Consider working your way up to this from the tips that follow.

Short skirts do the playing dumb work FOR you!
Short skirts do the playing dumb work FOR you! | Source

Be Female

Oh, everybody knows that women are stupid, so it is much easier to play dumb if you're female. All you have to do is, well, be yourself.

But seriously. Nothing knocks down your externally displayed IQ like...

  • a short skirt,
  • high heels,
  • thigh highs,
  • big bows,
  • or other particularly girly accouterments.

They work like a charm- and do half the legwork for you! Heck, with a short enough skirt, you don't even have to try.

This facial expression works for me like a charm.  But this guy isn't dumb- in fact, anyone able to compose a well-lit self portrait like this is far from dumb, IMHO.
This facial expression works for me like a charm. But this guy isn't dumb- in fact, anyone able to compose a well-lit self portrait like this is far from dumb, IMHO. | Source

Widen Those Eyes; Loosen That Jaw

As I sit here reliving various epic wins of my dumbplay, I find my face molding into its fallback play-dumb-expression. I think of it as the Blue Steel of ignorance.

This expression works for many types and is comprised of the following components:

  • Wide eyes
  • Raised eyebrows (but only moderately so- this should be relaxed, or else you will look afraid)
  • Relaxed lips
  • Slightly relaxed jaw (moderately gaping mouth optional)

Sometimes I also throw in extra blinking. Blinking typically indicates fast processing of new information, hence your blinking is a demonstration of bewilderment at your oh-so-uncomprehendable situation.


Apologizing is a great verbal way to start playing dumb. Combine that with feigned embarrassment and a couple of nervous laughs and you can even manage to play dumb indirectly- suggesting to others that you are dumb but trying to hide it rather than just plain-ol'-out-of-the-closet-dumb.


Be Sincere

At the heart of playing dumb lies sincerity. Leave that out and your audience shall smell your act like a dead, fermenting poodle.

This ties back to my first tip about actually BECOMING dumb. The only way to pull off true sincerity in the act of playing dumb is to truly believe that you are dumb.

And here's the kicker. In the end, it's not an act. We are ALL DUMB. Dumber than doorknobs. Dumber than shag carpeting. The only real act we're putting on (EVERY DAY) is one in which we pretend to be smart- to actually understand who we are and what's going on.

Ultimately, the art of playing dumb really involves embracing our true nature and the reality that we know next to nothing and have very little control over the world, our situations, and the actions of others. If you think you're smart, if you think you're in control, if you think you're aware of how the world works, you're just fooling yourself.

So wisen up. Play dumb. It's the smartest move you'll make all day.


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    • tamarawilhite profile image

      Tamara Wilhite 

      6 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      Sleep deprivation can also make you act dumb.

    • Simone Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Oh, I'm sure we could write up a real humdinger between the two of us!

    • Knightheart profile image


      7 years ago from MIssouri, USA

      I want to become an 'expert' at this. Where can I order the "Complete Idiot's Guide to Playing Dumb?" If there is no such thing, I would love to co-author it with you, Simone! ROFLOL

    • Simone Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Ah, but given the right context, any act can seem convincing, no?

    • aethelthryth profile image


      7 years ago from American Southwest

      Sharp humor without sarcasm. I'm impressed, but I'm afraid you just don't sound dumb that way. Any more than Will Rogers did. :)

    • Simone Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you David Warren and Michael Willis! And you've got it going on, swedal! AND LOLOLOL @drbj XD

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      7 years ago from south Florida

      You are so right, Simone. Playing dumb is an art form and too many of the voters in the U.S. displayed that brilliant skill in the last Presidential election. May they become smarter at playing dumb ... quickly.

    • Michael Willis profile image

      Michael Willis 

      7 years ago from Arkansas

      I love this hub Simone! Brings good cheer as I am reading.

    • swedal profile image


      7 years ago from Colorado

      Wow, tasty picture. What was this hub about again? Oh yeah, playing dumb. Got that one covered!

    • David Warren profile image

      David Warren 

      7 years ago from Nevada and Puerto Vallarta

      Simone, funny and brilliant! Having coffee, hub hopping, thanks for link paradigm, first laugh of the day. Voted up

    • Simone Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Hehee thanks Alastar Packer!

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks for this link paradigm! This is a delightful and oh so true read. Simone your wit and sense of humor here is just what the doctor ordered. Absolutely awesome , yes.

    • Simone Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      LOL thanks paradigmsearch! Hahaa XD

    • paradigmsearch profile image

      Person of Interest 

      7 years ago from USA

      An Absolutely Awesome Hub! Rated up here, there, and everywhere. I just may post a link to it in the forums. :)


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