A candidate for governor who believes show is more important than substance gets forced to show his true colors.
- Dick Shawn as Bo Gumbs
- Harry Goz as Louie Farnum
- John Zarchen as Peter
- Catherine A. Hayes as Mimi
- Paul Sparer as Narrator
A maid is dusting a large hotel room. She dusts a patriotic painting, some tables, and then goes to a table on which a basket of fruit is sitting. She picks up a red apple and takes a bite out of it. When she hears someone approaching the room, she puts the apple down with the bitten side up. She then turns the apple around to hide the bite.
The door to the hotel room opens and Bo Gumbs walks in with a bellhop immediately behind him. He bumps into the maid and they have a friendly exchange. When he asks the maid for her name, she tells him that it is Mary, but that her friends call her Mimi. Gumbs seems amused, thinking that it is a petite name for such a larger woman. He hopes that she is voting for him for governor and when she agrees, he hands her a campaign button. Gumbs gives them flags and asks them to decorate the hotel lobby with campaign memorabilia and also requests some bourbon.
When the maid leaves, the bellboy gives his name as Peter, to which Gumbs thinks is a "good name for a little fellow." He asks Peter to put a campaign poster on the wall, which Peter does.Gumbs allows Peter to take a button and then sends Peter out of the room. Gumbs calls his campaign manager and tells him that he doesn't like the hotel because it has a creepy vibe. He demands his limousine to show up as soon as possible so he can get out of the hotel. When his manager tells him that there are reporters who want to know his stance on certain issues, Gumbs orders him to "put 'em off." He also cancels an interview with the chamber of commerce about taxes and other political issues. Gumbs tells his manager that no one cares about issues and all he has to do is make the voters like him and he will win the election.
Gumbs misses the cradle of the phone when he sets the receiver down. Peter, however, is still in the room and he sets the receiver in the right place. At first Gumbs is surprised that Peter is in the room, but he dismisses that surprise rather quickly. Upon assuming that Peter had been in the room the entire time, Gumbs tells Peter that he is happy that Peter didn't leave because it gave the boy a chance to see a "master of the common touch in action." Peter agrees and seems genuinely grateful. Gumbs has an excited Peter sit down so he can tell him what politics is really about. He tells Peter that politics is a game and all the voters want is for the candidates to put on a good show and make them laugh. He tells him that voters don't want to hear about issues. Gumbs begins dancing around the room, acting like the ringmaster in a circus, constantly emphasizing that politics is just about putting on a good show.
After his outrageous act, Gumbs turns back to Peter and asks him if he understands. Peter tells Gumbs that he does and he knows exactly what Gumbs needs in order to win.
Peter is still listening to Gumbs and is told that there are too many boring intellectuals in the government and that all they do is put the poor voters to sleep. He mentions that political issues only depress people.
There is a knock on the door and Gumbs tells Peter to watch him as he shows Peter how he deals with "the little people." Mimi the maid is at the door and she brings in Gumbs's bourbon. He pours a glass and makes a toast, proclaiming Mimi to be one of the last true beauties in the world. Mimi seems very overwhelmed and flustered. Gumbs invites Mimi to dance and they do. However, when Mimi bumps Gumbs with her behind, she knocks him to the floor. She immediately apologizes in good spirits and helps him back up. Gumbs dismisses both Peter and Mimi and then bemoans the fact that he will go to such extremes just to get two votes.
Gumbs is wrapped in towels with his suit laid out on the bed. He calls Peter to come and get his suit because he needs it to be pressed. As he heads into the showers, Peter's hands are immediately there, gathering up his suit. Gumbs peaks out of the shower door, but his suit and Peter are both gone.
After his shower, Gumbs is in his underwear and having another glass of bourbon. He is practicing his speech. The speech is more of an anti-speech, however. In it, he says he is not trying to give a speech and is just present to share in the barbeque of the people he is speaking to. He promises to the imaginary people that if he is elected, everyone will get free barbeque sauce.
As Gumbs continues to pat himself on the back, he hears some faint calliope music coming from elsewhere in the hotel. Gumbs shakes it off and continues his speech about the barbeque. He says that the children will get to eat cotton candy and other kinds of carnival food, proclaiming it good American food.
Peter knocks on the door and Gumbs lets him in. Peter is carrying a vase with some flowers and what appears to be Gumbs's suit under his other arm. He gives the vase to a thankful Gumbs, who refers to Peter as Paul. Peter corrects him and informs Gumbs that he has Gumbs's suit. He has Peter hang up the suit in the closet, checks to make sure his car is ready and gives Peter a rose to give to Mimi. Peter thanks Gumbs and leaves.
Louie calls and begins to tell Gumbs about how the evening is going to develop. The calliope music is heard again and Gumbs tells Louie that he has no intention of competing with a circus. Louie is confused, having not heard of any circus in the area. Louie accuses Gumbs of drinking too much, but Gumbs is adamant that Louie find out where the calliope music is coming from and hangs up.
Walking into the closet, Gumbs takes a look at his suit. He seems very confused and he takes the cover off of his suit, which looks very different. It has exaggerated dimensions and colors and a huge comical campaign button on it.Gumbs seems to think that the comical suit is just a joke. He hangs it back in the closet. He closes the closet door, but it reopens itself several times.
Peter comes to the room and insists to Gumbs that the new suit is exactly the suit that Gumbs indicated that he needed. After asking Peter if he is on drugs, Peter insists that Gumbs should try on the clown pants portion of the suit. Gumbs remarks several times that it is dumb, but he agrees and helps Peter put the suit on. The calliope music plays again as Gumbs gives Peter a distasteful look.
Peter tells Gumbs that he would not be able to tell how nice the suit was until he put the entire thing on. Gumbs comments that he will be the laughing stock of the entire state if he is seen in the suit. He thinks that the suits got switched due to a poor campaign joke and when Peter puts a rose in his jacket pocket, Gumbs accuses Peter of being messed up in the head. The flower squirts water and this ends up being the last straw for Gumbs who goes to call Peter's boss.
As Gumbs goes to the phone, Peter solemnly tells Gumbs to do what he has to. The phone doesn't work and a spring snake jumps out of the receiver. Gumbs concludes that Peter is playing a joke on him, congratulates him for a good prank and asks for his real clothes. Peter, still standing solemnly to the side, acknowledges that something is wrong and decides he will fix it. His solution, however, is to put big clown shoes on Gumbs's feet.
Gumbs, having finally had enough of what he considers a bad prank, informs Peter that he appreciates a good joke. However, he states that when a joke stops being funny is simply becomes a joke. He demands that Peter help him take the clown shoes off and go retrieve his real suit. Peter insists that the suit looks much better with the shoes on.
Try as he might, Gumbs is unable to take the shoes off. He starts stomping around the room angrily, looking very clownish as he does. As he continuously tries to get the shoes off, Gumbs ends up inadvertently tumbling like a clown. As he has a hold on his ankles, there is a knock at the door and Louie calls his name. As Gumbs tries to not be seen, the door opens and Louie sees Gumbs dressed like a clown and acting like a clown.
Louie approaches Gumbs, who is holding his ankles and looking at him. Louie reminds Gumbs of the rally they have to attend, but Gumbs insists the bellboy won't let him get dressed. Louis does not understand and tells Gumbs that his clothes look fine. Gumbs stands up and he is dressed in his normal suit, but insists to Louie that he is in the clownish outfit.
Louie finally begins to get annoyed with Gumbs. He insists that Gumbs's antics have been giving him an ulcer. He also sees the bottle of bourbon sitting on the table and accuses Gumbs of getting drunk. When Gumbs insists that the bellboy has been trying to sabotage him, Louie chalks it up to stage fright.
Gumbs is very worried at this point and Louie still only sees him wearing his regular suit. He asks Louie how he looks and at first Louie looks solemnly at him and says that Gumbs looks like "yesterday's grits." Then after a moment, Louie starts laughing and tells Gumbs that he looks fine. Louie grabs an apple and turns to go, telling Gumbs to hurry because they have a rally to attend. Louie looks at the apple and notices it is the apple that Mimi bit earlier and leaves with a frown. Gumbs stands befuddled for a moment, wondering what has been happening to him.
Gumbs turns to look at himself in the mirror. He again appears to be wearing the clownish outfit. Peter is back in the room and uses Louie's comments as confirmation that Gumbs looks great. Feeling despondent, Gumbs sits on the bed and says that he looks silly. Peter tells Gumbs that he is supposed to look silly. He reminds Gumbs that he had mentioned before how politics was not about being serious; it was about image and entertainment. He reminds Gumbs of how Gumbs had said he wanted to entertain the people and make them laugh and asks Gumbs if he still wants to entertain people. Gumbs insists that he does, indeed.
The door to the room opens and Mimi the maid walks in. She informs Gumbs that it is time for them to go. Gumbs walks over to her and asks if looks all right and Mimi confirms that he does. She gives him a kiss and backs off.
Gumbs is shown in silhouette and when the lights come on he is dressed in full clown makeup, but does not look happy. A scene breaks out with Gumbs, Peter, and Mimi marching to circus music. Peter informs Gumbs that his car has arrived and it is a small clown car. Gumbs looks very reluctant at first as he gets into the car, but then he happily announces "My fellow Americans, we're going to have a good time!" as he drives off in the clown car.
Bo Gumbs: Hey, you wanna know what politics is really all about?
Peter: Oh, yes sir!
Bo Gumbs: Well, you better sit down for this. Son, politics is a game. Ain't nothin' to do with the issues. It's a show! That's right. People wanna have a good time. You make them laugh, and they'll love ya for it!