These tropes claim one thing while meaning the opposite, or make believe an object or animal is a person, or pretend to be foolish or authoritative when they’re anything but. In short, role-playing tropes let you play roles.
When you want to focus the attention on yourself as well as your words, portraying pretend characters can strangely make you more memorable. Like all of rhetoric, though, this tricky stuff can get, well, tricky. Will the real Stephen Colbert please stand up? And if he doesn’t, how can we tell? The secret lies with who’s in on the joke. Role-playing tropes speak to an inside audience and an outside one—those who get the double meanings and those who don’t.