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Cannot Convey Sarcasm
Bloo: I want a cooookie.
Wait. Are you being sarcastic?
Bloo: I'm being huuuungry.
. Due to some characters' demeanor, it is hard for others to distinguish if they are being sarcastic. In this case it isn't that someone doesn't understand the concept of sarcasm — it's that someone doesn't understand how to properly use it, despite knowing exactly what sarcasm is. Often they have to alert others that they are in Sarcasm Mode
. May overlap with Insult Backfire
Likely perpetrators are The Comically Serious
and those with No Social Skills
or No Sense of Humor
. Compare Cannot Tell a Joke
open/close all folders
- Inversion: There was an old commercial for Starburst where a man asked a woman if she wanted a Starburst and she sarcastically replied something like "Yeah, sure I would." He asked her why she had to be so flippant and she sarcastically told him that she has a speech disorder which makes everything she says sounds sarcastic. He got annoyed and walked away, after which she maintained the sarcastic tone and lamented to herself how this speech disorder sucks. 
- Comedian Arj Barker had a joke suggesting we all use the made-up font Sarcastica when typing sarcastic comments.
- Comedian Rob Newman created a character called Ray who was almost a 100% inversion of the trope: Ray was incapable of saying almost anything without sounding sarcastic. Even when he suffered life-threatening injuries nobody tried to help him because they thought his cries for help were meant ironically. He did play the trope straight occasionally though: Ray sounded completely sincere on the rare occasions when he meant to be sarcastic.
- Every so often, Sheldon from the The Big Bang Theory says something sarcastic but does it without much inflection. In one episode, Penny wants Sheldon to apologize to Leonard. When Sheldon refuses, Penny invokes this trope by telling Sheldon to apologize sarcastically. Sheldon agrees, and Leonard never realizes Sheldon is trying to be sarcastic.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- Abed from Community (possibly) subverts this twice: Once where he goes out of his way to use sarcastic inflection when being sincere about the importance of inflection, and again where he lets the group know he's about to begin a sarcastic diatribe before doing so, and closes with "Sarcasm over".
- Every so often Brennan and (at one point anyway) Zack from Bones (on the off chance that they'd actually use sarcasm).
- Robin and her date have a misunderstanding in How I Met Your Mother in which he turns up in a Halloween costume while she doesn't, as her sarcasm didn't come across in their online conversations.
- The Saturday Night Live sketch "Sarcasm 101 with Matthew Perry." They know what sarcasm is but they don't all quite get how to do it.
- One sketch on So Random! features "Possibly Sarcastic Skip", who was born with a disease that makes him sound sarcastic all the time. The sketch is spent trying to determine when he is and isn't being sincere.
- Inverted in a Kids in the Hall sketch in which Dave Foley’s character inadvertently insults people due to his speech impediment which causes it to sound as though he’s perpetually being sarcastic. Check it out.
- The Internet comes standard with sarcasm filters built into HTML protocol, rendering it highly possible that offhand flippant comment you thought was the height of clever Lampshade Hanging insulted everyone who read it. Detecting sarcasm in text requires the reader to rely on wording and context alone, and a conversation between strangers provides a lot less context than one between friends. It might be related to the rampant overuse of italics to make something seem more outstanding or ALL CAPS SPEAK TO SUGGEST YELLING.
- Sarcasm is nearly impossible to convey in text in general. The Internet is more noticeable in that sarcasm is more abundant, but when it appears in text, it can be hard to tell how genuine they're being.
- It should be noted that the above is pretty much Poe's Law restated.
- Absolutely. On This Very Wiki, one can never, ever, ever tell when a troper is being sarcastic or snarky. Such is the monumentally difficult task of communicating sarcasm through text alone.
- That being said, there are tricks to make the sarcasm (somewhat) more apparent. Using deliberately archaic or unusual language ("Oh yeah, Bob, what a stupendous chap, what would us peons do without his radiance?"), extreme (but still readable) misspellings within an otherwise regular body of text ("People hear me say 'Bob is teh beztezt!!shift+1' quite often, I assure you."), the usage of italics (Bob is so cool. I wouldn't call him a sack of crap at all."), and other abnormal ways of communicating textually are often good indicators of sarcasm. However, because these methods are by no means universal, it is still very difficult to convey sarcasm, doubly so with a stranger who may not use the above methods at all or use methods the readers are unfamiliar with.
- Discussed in this strip of Dinosaur Comics, in which T-Rex worries that people can't tell when he's being sarcastic. (And then repeats that worry in a sarcastic tone.)
- The Simpsons
- Inverted in the episode "Bart of Darkness":
Homer: There's still the little matter of the whereabouts of your wife.
Maude Flanders: Uh, I'm right here.
Homer: Oh, I see! Then I guess everything's wrapped up in a neat little package!
(after a pause)
Homer: Really, I mean that. Sorry if it SOUNDED sarcastic.
Homer: And maybe I'm talking like this because I can't stop! Help me, Lisa! I have serious mental problems!
- In the episode "Homerpalooza" two unnamed teens/young adults engage in a form of this:
Teen 1: Here comes that cannon ball guy. He's cool.
Teen 2: Are you being sarcastic, dude?
Teen 1: I don't even know anymore.
- South Park had an inversion in "Sarcastiball": After Randy Marsh accidentally invents a sport by sarcastically suggesting it, he adopts a habit of speaking sarcastically all the time. At one point Sharon asks him if he's stuck speaking sarcastically. He angrily replies with things like "Yes! I'm stuck speaking like this! I need help!" She still can't tell if he's sincere or not.