Today, in conversation, I used the term ‘dog and pony show’ as in ‘David and Larry are going to do a dog and pony show on xxx.’ And then I got a question I didn’t expect – ‘what does that mean?’
The term dates back to the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when there were many traveling circuses to entertain. It was often the dog and pony show that was promoted as a headline act.
As time has gone on, ‘to do a dog and pony show’ means to publicize a presentation that is designed to impress or sell a product. It’s debatable about whether the saying is one of scorn – some dog and pony shows could be well-researched and professional as well as glitzy, others not.