Ear Trumpet

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The Ear Trumpet (or Ear Horn) is a very old-fa—

HM?! WHAT'S THAT, SPEAK UP, BOY!

Ahem. The Ear Trumpet (or Ear Horn) is a very old-fashioned type of hearing aid that was fir—

WHAT?! YOU'LL HAVE TO SPEAK LOUDER, SONNY!

*sigh*...

The Ear Trumpet (or Ear Horn) is a very old-fashioned type of hearing aid that was first invented in the 17th century. For the most part, they exist only as relics of older eras. However, they still serve a purpose in fiction.

DANGIT, KIDDO. YOU'RE SPEAKING TOO LOUD! THESE OLD EARS ARE SENSITIVE YOU KNOW!

Oh for the love of—

There are usually three types of Ear Trumpets in fiction:
  • Serving an accurate role in a Period Piece, where they reflect the setting.
  • Used for comedic effect, to make it obvious that the person cannot hear.
  • Another comedic usage, usually to illustrate how ridiculously old a character is.

Frequently accompanying an I Can't Hear You gag.


Examples:

Comics
  • Old timers in Lucky Luke are often seen with these, especially if said geezers are weakened to wheelchair condition. Usually the ear trumpet user still cannot hear and has to rely on someone else to personally deliver "what he says".
  • Professor Calculus uses one in Destination Moon (which gets switched out at one point for the Captain's pipe). For the actual trip, he uses an earpiece that allows him to hear perfectly. Needless to say, later volumes return him to his hard-of-hearing state.
    • Well those are for deaf people, and he's just a little hard of hearing in one ear.
  • Jommeke: Both Baron Huppelvoet and the eldest nun of the "Begijntjes" have one.
  • Hägar the Horrible once was trying to communicate with an old Viking. The problem: The Ear Trumpet was full of letters.
  • Used for a noticeable gag in the italian comic Alan Ford: during a bank robbery, one of the ghost robbers tries to intimidate a seemingly deaf old man with an ear trumpet, who can't hear what's he's saying. Then the ghost just shoots a bullet down the trumpet, causing it to exit from the old man's other ear, much to his shock.
  • In The Beano, Eric Wimp ate an old banana and became an older version of Bananaman who used an ear trumpet to attempt to hear a cry for help.

Film
  • There's an old character in The Quiet Man that uses one.
  • The Adventures of Baron Munchausen: Gustavus used to be able to hear the slightest of sounds from thousands of miles away but by the time that the Baron and Sally find him inside a giant fish, he needs a giant ear trumpet to hear.
  • A villain in Wild Wild West is briefly seen with one, tipping out accumulated ear wax for disgusting effect.
  • An old friend of Benjamin (and Gabriel's future father-in-law) in The Patriot has this; he lost his leg and most of his hearing in the French and Indian War. He sometimes uses it to mess with Gabriel by pretending he cannot hear him properly.
  • Gilbert's sickly mother uses one in Topsy Turvy.
  • Óin the Dwarf is shown to use one in the film adaptation of The Hobbit, leading to a visual gag where he takes time out from Elven music by stuffing a handkerchief in it.
  • Fozzie Bear uses one in a throwaway gag at the end of The Muppet Christmas Carol, shaking a present Scrooge gives him.

Literature
  • Trumpkin uses an ear trumpet in The Silver Chair. This is both for comic effect (he mishears a good bit of information before he finally gets his ear trumpet) and to emphasize how old he is, and thus how much time has passed since the last trip to Narnia.
  • Surrealist novel The Hearing Trumpet.
  • Discworld: Unseen University's elderly wizard Windle Poons apparently used to have one. By Hogfather it was used to give HEX verbal commands.

Live-Action TV
  • In The Adventure Game, one of the Argonds had an ear trumpet that was completely useless; his hearing only improved when he wore his spectacles.
  • Appeared in the Dragnet TV series as Joe Friday and his partner attempt to question a hard-of-hearing witness.
  • Adam Savage parodies this during a MythBusters build — he was assembling a huge funnel, and when he finished it he held it up to one ear.
    What's that you say, sonny? I can't hear you!
    • In the Chinese Invasion Alarm myth, Kari and Adam use construction cones as these to help them hear the faint beats emanating from their sunken drum. It doesn't help Adam, but Kari does hear the drum responding to the pickaxes digging through the rock below.
  • Several in The Benny Hill Show. In the sketch "Benny Kelly, Son Of Ned Kelly" he pours some alcohol into someone's ear horn and the fluid comes out the man's mouth.
  • Referenced by Lionel in As Time Goes By when he's having hearing problems.
  • Horrible Histories- During their special edition at the Proms, one sketch has Ludwig van Beethoven being provided a literal trumpet for this purpose by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in order to argue over which of them was the greatest composer.
  • In the Grand Finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Q (manifesting as an elderly man) uses one to annoy an elderly Picard by implying he's gone senile.
    Picard: Q, what is going on here?! Where is the anomaly?
    Q: What's that? You've lost your mummy?

Videogames
  • In King's Quest V, Graham encounters an old hermit that uses a conch seashell as one. Without it the only thing he can hear is the incredibly loud bell he has hanging outside his door.
  • There's on old man on Booty Island in Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge whose job is to fire a cannon when the mail boat comes in. Probably because of being deafened by proximity to that loud cannon, he needs an ear trumpet to hear what Guybrush is saying.
  • Lord Spookyraven in Kingdom of Loathing has one, which you win by defeating him; because he dabbled in ancient unspeakable evil, wearing it in certain areas lets you learn the names of demons, which allows you to summon them for special effects. It also gives you a nice boost to your initiative.
  • The Boys of Silence in Bioshock Infinite have these built into their helmets.
  • In The Sims 2, if you take your time in Create-A-Sim, Elder Sims will sometimes take one of these out and listen for something.

Western Animation
  • Abe Simpson has used one in The Simpsons. Abe's age is a frequent point of comedy.
    • Professor Frink uses an ear trumpet as an echolocation device to find the kids in town who are running a pirate radio station giving away all the adults' secrets.
    • Mr. Burns has used an ear trumpet once or twice.
  • A Looney Tunes cartoon Now Hear This had an old man finding a new ear trumpet in place of his old and worn-out one. He is overjoyed to have a new shiny trumpet, but it is, in fact, Satan's lost horn, and it has the old man's world turn into a synesthetic, nightmarish acid trip sequence.
  • In Max Fleischer's Gulliver's Travels, one of the Lilliputians uses his ear trumpet as a bugle to summon a crowd to the beach where Gulliver washed up.
  • Played for laughs in Futurama when Fry travels in time and accidentally has sex with his grandmother when she was younger; upon having it spelled out for him she responds to his screams with "What was that dear?" and uses an ear horn.
  • Used by Beethoven in an episode of Animaniacs. The Warners tried using it as an instrument until they learned where it had been.
    Yakko: "You shouldn't put stuff like that in your ear. You'll go deaf."
    Beethoven: "I am deaf!"
    Yakko, Wakko, and Dot (to the audience): "Too late!"
    • Also used by Slappy Squirrel after Skippy told her the school counselor suggested he use a nonviolent approach to deal with a bully, when she couldn't believe what she was hearing.
  • Used in a cutaway gag in an episode of Family Guy. After Stewie compares Brian to "aging supermodel Carol Alt", we cut to an old man shouting about her being mentioned on TV (and getting the name of the show wrong), and we see the trumpet sticking out of bedsheets in the other room and an old woman shouting "What?".
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic used this in the episode "Putting Your Hoof Down" with an elderly pony who cut in front of Fluttershy at the asparagus stand.

Real Life
  • In the 1920's and 1930's, as aircraft grew larger and governments began to panic over the possibility of serious aerial bombing by bomber fleets, some truly heroic ear trumpets were built in fixed turret mountings along the south coast of England. The intention was that these could be angled towards France and listeners would strain their ears for the first magnified signs that a bomber fleet was on the way. (so as to get fighter interceptors up in the air). Whilst the technology worked as well as could be expected, the listener stations diminished in importance as radar was developed and did the job much more efficiently. But in an attempt to keep the radar secret from Germany, the listening stations and their massive ear trumpets were maintained and kept staffed, with the RAF's success in intercepting German raids officially credited to them and to the Royal Observer Corps who manned them.
  • At least one was in use in The '70s (!!), showing up in this video of Ann-Margret and the Bay City Rollers playing for an audience of senior citizens. (Around 1:09.)


WHAT?! COULD YOU REPEAT ALL THAT?! I WASN'T USING MY TRUMPET!
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