One-trick pony

Posted by ESC on February 26, 2002

In Reply to: One-trick pony posted by Marian on February 26, 2002

: An acquaintance who wrote a finale song for a college musical last year, and had hoped to get several new numbers she's now written approved for this year's musical, has failed to gain approval for anything other than another finale number. She's not as pleased as she was last year, partly because she fears she'll be labeled as a "one-trick pony." What's the origin of the phrase?

I would guess that it relates to the phrase "dog and pony show," a mini-circus. In some cases the pony only did one trick.

From the archives: "Slang: the Authoritative Topic-by-Topic Dictionary of American Lingos from all Walks of Life" by Paul Dickson (Pocket Books, New York, 1990 & 1998) has two entries. One, under Advertising and Public Relations is: "dog and pony show. Press conference; any carefully prepared performance." The other is under Pentagonese: "dog and pony show. Formal presentation aimed at gathering support for a system or issue. Visuals (usually projected on a screen), handouts, and large graphs are essential to a true dog and pony show."