Sister Mary Elephant
|"Sister Mary Elephant"|
|Single by Cheech and Chong|
|from the album Big Bambu|
|Cheech and Chong singles chronology|
Sister Mary Elephant is a comedy skit by Cheech and Chong. The recording appeared on the duo's second album, Big Bambu, released in 1972. It was re-released as a single in 1973 and climbed to #24 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1974.
The title character is an exceedingly prissy, nun substitute teacher (played by Cheech Marin) teaching in a parochial school ("Our Lady of 115th Street") classroom of exceedingly irreverent, noisy teenage boys (all played by Cheech and Tommy Chong through overdubbing). She attempts to teach the class, but the boys totally ignore her. She then tries to get the students' attention by speaking increasingly loudly, to no avail, and then finally screams, "SHUT UP!" at the top of her lungs, in startling contrast to her usually placid manner; dead silence ensues. She follows this with a once again prissy "Thank you". This becomes a running joke throughout the skit.
Sister Mary Elephant announces that she is the substitute for their regular teacher, Sister Rosetta Stone, who has sent her love and the artwork she is making: fingerpaintings and dustcloths, indicating that she has likely been institutionalized. After introducing herself, the class erupts in laughter upon hearing her name, prompting a repetition of the "SHUT UP!"/"Thank you" routine. Sister Mary Elephant then asks a student to give her his knife. He complies, but not quite the way she had in mind (it is heard flying and sticking in the wall with a twang). She responds with another prissy "Thank you". She continues to try to teach the class, during which they continue talking, necessitating further repetitions of her screaming.
Sister Mary Elephant tells the class that they will read their previously assigned essays on "How I Spent My Summer Vacation". She chooses one boy (Chong), who stands up and reads in a monotone voice how on the first day he woke up, went downtown to look for a job, then hung out in front of the drugstore. He repeatedly describes this same daily routine verbatim for each day of his vacation as well. Sister Mary tries to get the student to stop reading, but he ignores her and continues, finally noting that on the fourth day he got a job keeping people from hanging out in front of the drugstore. Sister Mary beseeches the boy to "SHUT UP!" before he can continue any further.
Sister Mary Elephant then reads from a book of excessively flowery poetry. The class responds with their usual razzing but fall silent except for scattered snoring after a few verses. In a variation on the running joke, she screams for the class to "WAKE UP!" The sketch ends here with Chong declaring "I gotta go to the can, Man."
The character of Sister Mary Elephant reappeared in a later Cheech and Chong skit, Sergeant Stadanko, on their Los Cochinos album. The nun introduces the titular narcotics officer (Chong) as a guest speaker. Her rowdy classroom immediately falls silent at the mention of Stadenko's profession. Later one student (Cheech) rats out another student, Billy (Chong) to Stadanko for selling him oregano packaged as marijuana. The students begin fighting and Sister Mary beseeches Stadanko to intervene. Stadanko sheepishly informs her that he will call the police.
The two skits are segued together on Cheech & Chong's Greatest Hit.
- Joel Whitburn, The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits