Mrs. Thimble: Mr. Mouseling, you said I'll let you know if the music is too loud! Well, it is!
Mr. Mouseling: What? I can't hear you. The music's too loud.A conversation is impeded by either a lot of ambient noise, the hearing problems of one or more of the conversants, or an unusual obstruction in the ear of one of the conversants. So one person yells something. And the other person, auditorially impeded, yells back, resulting in:
— Angelina Ballerina: The Next Steps, "Angelina and the New Music Store"
- I can't hear you! (Repeats the first person's statement back verbatim)
- I can't hear you, I've got an unusual obstruction in my ear!
- (Response to a question that was not asked, but may rhyme)
- ...the din stops just as the other person gets fed up with trying to shout above the noise and yells something inappropriate/embarrassing.
- or is calling out the other person in the conversation...
- or is pretending there's noise making it impossible to converse...
- or is deliberately making noise to block the conversation.
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- Back in The '70s there was a commercial for dishwashers set in a suburban kitchen that invoked this trope, with two housewife types standing on either side of the device in question as it made a hellacious din.
Woman #1: (shouting) Your dishwasher makes a lot of noise!Woman #2: (shouting louder) I can't hear you! My dishwasher makes a lot of noise!
- Tintin is full of jokes like these when Professor Tournesol/Calculus appears.
- Also much earlier in Cigars of the Pharaoh, when Tintin awakes on a drifting sarcophagus and sees the Egyptologist in another, too far away to understand each other.
- At the end of B.P.R.D.: 1946, Sgt. Maes and Trevor Bruttenholm try to shout over the din of a launching rocket. Neither can hear the other.
- Invoked in Wolverine and the X-Men:
Logan: Kitty's in charge until I get back.
Bobby: Nobody's seen Kitty in two days!
Logan: Then you're in charge.
Bobby: [alarmed] Me?! No. I didn't agree to that.
Logan: I can't hear you, headmaster Iceman!
- The elderly Miss Molly keeps mishearing things comically in the Donald Duck comic Paperinik e l'indimenticabile Aida. She's actually a young burglar in disguise, and the hard-of-hearing schtick is part of her façade.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Movie, after Kaiba jumps on top of his Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon:
- Kaiba: Now, Yugi, prepare to suffer defeat at the hands of my—
Yugi: (faraway) I can't hear you!
Yugi: (faraway) I said I can't hear you! Come back down, you look really silly up there!
Kaiba: I don't understand what you're saying! I think I might be too high up!
- The situation is remedied when the two start talking over a Split Screen.
- Calvin and Hobbes do this in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series when the former character is outside, trying to fix the satellite dish.
- Subverted - in part 2, when confessing things, Calvin admits he was just playing with Hobbes.
- In the Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers fanfic Under the Bridge, Widget and Jürgen are temporarily deafened by the report of a Darned Nearly Recoilless Rifle in an enclosed space, and spend a couple of lines explaining this to each other.
- In one story of the Facing the Future Series, two of Walker's guards have to put up with the racket of a captured Paulina. When the first mentions putting in a request to put her in suspended animation, the second guard, with his hands over his ears, yells "What?"
- Disney's The Princess and the Frog:
Naveen: Ray! Get me out of this box!
Ray: I can't hear you! I'mma get you outta this box!
- From Care Bears To The Rescue Movie:
Bumpity: It's getting so windy, I can hardly hear you!
Tweazle: What? I can't hear you, it's too windy!
- Funshine Bear sings about the unusual obstruction variant in the "Make 'Em Laugh" song in Care Bears: Journey to Joke-a-Lot.
Funshine: A pie in the face / A banana in your ear...
- In the first Tinker Bell movie, Bobble tries to ask Clank if he's seen Tink, unaware that Clank has put in earplugs. After a few tries with Clank mishearing a word that rhymes with 'tink,' he takes out his earplugs and asks "Hey, have you seen Tink?"
- In Kung Fu Panda 2, Po delivers an epic speech to Lord Shen, the Big Bad of the film, while on a rooftop half a mile away, without even noticing that no one (including the audience) can make out what he's saying.
Po: Shen! A panda stands between you and your—
(cut to Shen, who can barely hear Po say "destiny")
Shen: (shouting) WHAT?!
(cut back to Po)
Po: Prepare yourself for a hot—
(cut again to Shen, who can still barely hear anything)
Shen: (softer) What?
- DEBS. Amy and Janet are driving in an open-top car, so there's a lot of noise making it difficult to talk.
Amy: I'm just not in love.
[The car stops, as does the noise]
Amy: I said, I want to be in love!
Janet: Why are you yelling?
- Francis Bigger in Carry On Doctor from the Carry On series decides to marry his deaf lecture assistant in hospital. Unfortunately, he accidentally hires a deaf priest, and this trope is in full swing.
Francis: [prompting his assistant] "I do".
Chloe the Assistant: What?
Francis: [a little louder] "I ... DO"!
Chloe: "I do" what?
Francis: No no! He's done the, "Do you take thee etc etc"!
Chloe: Oh! I do!
Francis: A little louder, please.
Chloe: [louder] I do!
Francis: SHE DOES!!
- Too-loud disco music in Boogie Nights:
"Doesn't it make you nervous when you're dealing with all those evil forces?"
"No, the evil forces."
"Evil?! Nah, man. It's not evil. It's an illusion!"
"Yeah! It's confusin'!"
- The film Abbott and Costello in Hollywood contains a classic sequence (mislabeled on the site) in which Lou offers Bud earplugs so that he won't hear a sleep-inducing record Lou's using. Unfortunately, whoever's wearing them can't hear a thing.
- Ant-Man has Luis and his buddies running from the cops after the heist. As they hop into their van with Paxton yelling at them to stop, Luis shouts back "It's too loud! There's a tank! Can't hear you!"
- The Sisters Grimm: The elder sister and the grandmother have a conversation of the second type because of how loud the rattletrap of a car is.
- The Dresden Files: Harry's elderly landlady is hard of hearing so they have a conversation of the second type in Changes.
- The old music hall routine, beloved of P. G. Wodehouse:
Pat (on the train): Pardon me, is this Wembley?Mike: No, it's Thursday!Pat: Yes, so am I!
- Happens briefly in Wraith Squadron, courtesy of a subversion of Steel Ear Drums.
- The Silver Chair has this done by the old, hard-of-hearing dwarf Trumpkin, who, among other things, mishears the protagonists' names ("Eustace" as "useless"), and eventually complaints that people these days don't talk clearly.
- The Legend of Rah and the Muggles has this done by the old Yur the Muggle, for sake of comedy in chapter six.
- This is used to great comic effect by Bartimaeus towards the end of The Ring of Solomon, a prequel book in the Bartimaeus series. After winning against Ammet, he brings the ring back to Jerusalem and to Khaba the Cruel, at first faithfully imitating Ammet, who always took the form of a dark shadow imitation of Khaba's form. However, as time passes, he slowly allows the imitation to grow a long nose, warts and two jug-ears. Then, when's supposedly giving Khaba the ring, he instead makes it so that Khaba just misses, telling him "That was a big jump. If only you were a little taller." When the magician insists "Give it to me!" he claps his hand against one of the jug-ears, telling him that he's a bit deaf. When Khaba repeats "Give it to me!" he replies that "Nothing would give me greater pleasure," then punches him square on the chin, knocking him out and sending him sprawling.
Live Action TV
- Sesame Street has used the vaudeville routine listed below with Bert and Ernie.
- The Cone of Silence on Get Smart is a classic example. It's hard to predict exactly how the Cone of Silence will fail at any given moment, but you can practically guarantee it will involve this trope.
- Max is meeting his contact in a record store, so he plays a record up high in case they're being bugged. They end up shouting so loudly everyone in the store can hear what they're saying.
- In the tv movie Get Smart, Again! the Cone of Silence has finally been ditched and replaced with Hover Cover, which involves standing on a rooftop between three hovering helicopters (causing the participants to get blown off their feet) and the Hall of Hush which only leads to a Wall of Blather. In the end the Chief tosses the CONTROL regulations in his waste bin and insists Max just talk to him normally.
- Crank Yankers does this one. Elmer (old man character) tries to make an appointment to get hearing aids. Over the phone. You can see how this could go wrong, can't you?
- Munster, Go Home! has this exchange between Herman and Lily at the race:
Lily: They're trying to get rid of you!Herman: What?Lily: I said, they're trying to get rid of you!Herman: I love you, too!
- In The Adventure Game, one of the Argonds was very hard of hearing, and the contestants' first reaction was to suggest that he use his ear trumpet. This turned out to be useless, and it was only when he was wearing his glasses that he could hear well.
- Parodied in one episode of Radio Active: George is trying to tell Kevin something, but Kevin is listening to loud music on his headphones. George waves his hands wildly and mouths something; Kevin takes off his headphones and says, "Sorry, music, I couldn't hear you?", and George replies, "Oh, I know, that's why I didn't say anything.", before commencing with what he actually wanted to tell Kevin.
- Batman had the Dynamic Duo put into a Death Trap where they were locked in a box while water dripped onto a drum, which was amplified by 10,000 and the noise pumped into the box they were in. Once they managed to escape:
Robin: I think I'm going to be hard of hearing for a while.Batman: What?Robin: I think I'm going to be hard of hearing for a while.Batman: I can't hear you. I think I'm going to be hard of hearing for a while.
- Leverage: Nate calls Sophie asking her to come back to the team, but she's on a plane that's taking off and can't hear him.
- The Monkees episode "The Wild Monkees":
Micky: Gentlemen, the meeting will come to order!Mike: Mick, will you shut off your engine? We can't hear a word you're saying.Micky: What, Mike?Mike: Mick, I said would you shut off your engine? We can't hear you!Micky: I can't hear you. My engine's running!
- Dad's Army. Captain Mainwaring and his men are on parade wearing gas masks. After muttering incoherently for some time, Mainwaring eventually removes his mask.
Mainwaring: And that concludes my lecture on gas warfare. Are there any questions?Jones says something incomprehensible from under his gasmask.Mainwaring: What was that? I can't hear a word you're saying.Sgt Wilson leans close to Jones. Jones mutters again.Wilson: He said he couldn't hear a word you were saying, sir.
- An old sketch show had "the world's oldest joke" delivered by two guys dressed as cavemen. They speak only in nonsense "oooga booga!" language but it is translated as this:
First Caveman: I have no ears!Second Caveman: How can you hear then?First Caveman, looks at a small sundial attached to his wrist: Half past two.
- A loud conversation at the start of an episode of The Big Bang Theory:
Sheldon: Leonard, are you in the shower?
Leonard: I can't hear you! I'm in the shower!
Sheldon: I asked if you were in the shower, but that's moot now.
Sheldon: (exasperated) Moot! Rendered unimportant by recent events!
Leonard: I can't hear you, I'm in the shower!
Sheldon: Never mind, let's skip the chit-chat.
- In an episode of The IT Crowd, Roy is stealing from the vending machine via hacking when his boss jumps in, yells his name, then explains that he's yelling because he's wearing earplugs. Roy gets smart enough to realize that anything he says will be misheard, and says "I'm stealing food from this machine!" His boss smiles and walks away.
- How I Met Your Mother
Ted: So how do you know Robin?Kelly: Saggitarius!Ted: Is that near Westchester?Kelly: I would love one!
- A conversation in a loud dance club:
- Later, another common variant: "You have no idea what I'm saying, do you? I'm from outer space! I got thrown out of Sea World for humping a dolphin!" (Loud music cuts out) "I'm wetting my pants!"
- From The Vicar of Dibley episode "Autumn", the parish council sits down for its meeting.
David: We may experience some interruptions because— (jackhammer goes off outside and drowns him out)
Frank: I'm sorry, what was that last part? I couldn't hear you over the jackhammer.
David: That's what I said: we may be interrupted because— (jackhammer)
- An episode of Muppets Tonight had Randy and Andy Pig try to end noise pollution by sticking their fingers in their ears. The sketch ended with an inversion. Sam tells them "A tingulous trout for your spears" to get them to take their fingers out of their ears.
- This is a regular Running Gag on Bear in the Big Blue House with Lois, a blue-footed booby bird seen on the series who is chronically hard of hearing. (For added hilarity, Lois was Woodland Valley's telephone operator.) For example, from the "Good As New" song:
Doc Hogg: Now, Lois, take a warm birdbath in the sink.Lois: I stink?
- In a Baby Blues strip, Darryl and Wanda are hosting a party, complete with rock music.
Wanda: So, how do you think it's going?
Wanda: I said, "How do you think it's going?"
Darryl: I COULDN'T AGREE MORE! SO, HOW DO YOU THINK THE PARTY IS GOING?
- This◊ Dogs of C-Kennel strip.
- In one FoxTrot strip, Paige and her date are at the prom when he says, "The music's kinda loud!" An extended Who's on First?-style exchange follows, with each one mishearing the other as they try to confirm what they said ("Godzilla ate a crowd?" "Why would desert fields be plowed?"), ending with Paige plugging her fingers in her ears and saying, "Very loud."
- This is the basis of the old vaudeville joke:
Mr. Interlocutor: Pardon me, you have a banana in your ear.
Mr. Bones: Pardon me?
Mr. Interlocutor: You have a banana in your ear!
Mr. Bones: Pardon me?
Mr. Interlocutor: YOU HAVE A BANANA IN YOUR EAR!
Mr. Bones: I'm sorry; I can't hear you. I have a banana in my ear.
- Starlight Express has a double musical version in "One Rock & Roll Too Many."
- Whenever you visit Jezebel at her night club in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, she'll say it's too loud and ask you to her office.
- In World in Conflict: Soviet Assault, Major Lebedjev secretly switches radio channels, when he orders general retreat, so that the Knight Templar Malashenko, who has moved too far ahead, doesn't come after the "traitors".
- The Paragon choice in the final dialogue with the Illusive Man in Mass Effect 2 has Shepard quipping "Sorry, I can't hear you. I'm getting a lot of bullshit on this line." in his face.
- One of Mad King Thorn's jokes from Guild Wars Halloween events follows the Vaudeville "Banana In My Ear" joke, only with a pumpkin on his head.
- Mad Marty, the old laundryman from Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge. Eventually, when the exasperated protagonist yells at him, he says: "You don't have to shout. I'm not deaf."
- When Rinnosuke attempts to talk to Marisa about her estranged father in a chapter of Curiosities and Lotus Asia, she invokes the trope. It's unclear whether she's merely ignoring his request to talk about Mr. Kirisame or using the multitude of very loud cicadas outside to dodge the subject.
- Polly, the elderly hotel owner from Deadly Premonition, creates many examples of the third type. It doesn't help that she insists on sitting on the opposite end of a large, long table when eating with York.
York: Polly, it might help you to hear better if you could sit a little closer.Polly: Oh my, Mr. Morgan. You're embarrassing me. So early in the day, too! I think I'm a little too old for you.
- Shay Van Buren is prone to of this due to the fact that she's deaf in her right ear after being hit there by a hacky sack in the Third Grade. To the point where it almost seems like "What?" is her Catchphrase.
- In Episode 17 of Dr. Havoc's Diary, everybody goes half-deaf after Brock fires his gun inside of the submarine, which had triggered a loud, high-pitched ringing.
Brock: Ah, shit! Uh, my bad, my bad everyone! My silencer wasn't on! Sorry guys.
Dr. Havoc: Aagh... God, I think my eardrums are bleeding.
Dr. Havoc: Ugh, shut up! God, just shut up!
Brock: That's right, everybody put your hands up!
Henchman Kyle: What? What did he say?
Henchman Steve: What did Kyle just say?
Henchman Kyle: What did Steve just say?
Henchman Steve: I can't hear anything!
Henchman Kyle: What?
Henchman Steve: Huh?
Henchman Kyle: Who said that?
Dr. Havoc: Stop. Yelling.
- This The Non-Adventures of Wonderella strip plays with the "banana in your ear" version.
- The "banana" gag gets deconstructed in this Arthur, King of Time and Space strip.
- From Peachi's Metal Gear Solid comic, this happens when Liquid is in a helicopter:
Snake: Who are you? And why do you sound like Master Miller with an awful British accent?Liquid: WHAT?Snake: I SAID-Liquid: WHAT? I'M SORRY, I CAN'T HEAR YOU, THERE'S A HELICOPTER HERE!
- Questionable Content 2114: The Artificial Intelligence running the space station is annoyed at the government presence requiring a security check after the AI has already cleared Hannelore, Marten, and Marigold.
Lieutenant Potter: [furiously] God Damn it, Station!
Station: I'm sorry. I can't hear you. Lots of solar interference all of a sudden.
- Tails Gets Trolled: A running gag is that Rob "The Guy With No Ears" is told massive amounts of expository dump but can't hear because...he has no ears.
- Homestuck'' has this example, thanks to Dave's "ironic" love of terrible gear, in this case a two-way radio shaped like a puppet's rear end:
TEREZI: D4V3TEREZI: 4R3 YOU T4LK1NG THROUGH TH3 L1TTL3 FO4M 4SS 4G41NDAVE: what was thatDAVE: im having trouble hearing you through the little foam assDAVE: hold on lemme smoosh my ear up against it
- Avatar: The Last Airbender
Aang: Just like old times, eh, Bumi?Bumi: Aang! I need to talk to you!Aang: It's good to see you too!
- Season 2: "Return to Omashu" has this exchange:
Aang: What? I...can't...hear...you! The wind is too loud in my ears! Check out this loop!
- Season 3: Katara attempts to get Aang to talk about taking on the Fire Lord while the latter is on his glider.
- Family Guy did a pep rally at a school for the deaf which became this very fast.
- Spongebob Squarepants episode "The Idiot Box" plays with the trope.
Spongebob: We want to keep our voices down so we don't cause an avalanche.Patrick: What?Spongebob: We should keep our voices down so we don't cause an avalanche!Patrick: What should we keep down?Spongebob: [shouting] OUR VOICES![avalanche sounds plus Spongebob and Patrick screaming in terror emit from their cardboard box]
- In another episode, Squidward is repeatedly insulted by the voiceover narrator when making the Krusty Krab employee orientation video, and asks whether he's being paid extra for the scenes. Mr. Krabs responds with the trope name.
- And of course, Once an Episode...
- Back at the Barnyard:
Pig: These earplugs are great!Otis: What?Pig: These earplugs are GREAT!Otis: No, I won't marry your grandmother!Abby: What?Otis: I said I won't marry Pig's grandmother!Abby: Thanks, I used a new shampoo!Peck: I also enjoy monkeys!
- There's a scene in an episode of Invader Zim where Dib and Zim are yelling at each other across a street, but the animators didn't put in any traffic, so it really comes off more as Zim being hard of hearing. So...um...Played With, I guess. Yeah.
- Comes up twice in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Applebuck Season." Due to overworking, Applejack bonks her head on a tree branch, leaving her ears ringing, so when Twilight Sparkle comes over talk to her, it takes a few tries before she actually hears what the other pony says:
Twilight Sparkle: Applejack, can we talk?
Applejack: Can bees squawk? I don't think so.
Twilight Sparkle: No, "can we talk."
Applejack: Twenty stalks? Bean or celery?
Twilight Sparkle: NO! I need to talk to you!
Applejack: You need to walk to the zoo? Well, who's stopping you?
Twilight Sparkle: *louder* I need to talk to you!
Applejack: Oh. Well, why didn't you say so? Whatchoo wanna talk about?
- A few scenes later, she and Pinkie Pie attempt to bake some muffins, but her sleep-deprivation muddles what Pinkie says in a similar fashion, and what they end up with gives half the town food poisoning.
- In an episode of Angelina Ballerina: The Next Steps, Angelina's neighbor comes over to complain to her father that she can't sleep because the music that's being played for a party is too loud. Her father replies that he can't hear her - the music is too loud.
- In an episode of My Life as a Teenage Robot ("Speak No Evil"), Jenny loses her English language software disc and defaults to Japanese. She tries talking/playing charades with Dr. Wakeman to explain the problem.
Dr. Wakeman: How am I supposed to understand you if you won't speak a word of English?
- From the Hey Arnold! episode "The Cool Jerk", Arnold can't hear local greaser Frankie G. over the sound of Frankie's motorcycle.
Frankie: I said I like you, kid! You got potential!
Arnold: You want my pencil?!
- This is done in "Today's the Day!" on Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs when a jackhammer disturbs Harry's violin practice and Taury asks him how he's going to practice with all the noise.
- This is used in "The Slumber Party" in the PBS series of The Berenstain Bears when Too Tall plays a loud boombox at Lizzie's slumber party. The babysitter tells him to turn it down, but he tells her that he can't hear her because the music's too loud.
- On Wallykazam!, Wally and Gina do this in "The Switching Stone" when Bobgoblin is transformed into Biggoblin by the power of the switching stone and stomps around making a lot of noise.
- This is done on Blue's Clues on the episode "Nature!" between Steve and the voice of the kid used to represent the viewer when the viewer discovers a waterfall and tries to point it out to Steve, but he says that he can't hear because there's a loud waterfall. Also, it's a fairly common Running Gag on the series for either Steve or Joe to mishear when the voice says "A clue!"
- In "Toot & Puddle's Camp Out" from Toot & Puddle, as the two title characters are searching for their perfect campout spot, a strong wind kicks up. Puddle tells Toot that "It's too windy here," but Toot replies that he can't hear him because it's too windy. The wind then catches his backpack and blows into a bush.
- "I Want My Voice Back" from the animated series of Little Princess has the unusual obstruction variant with the royal chef, who had put stalks of broccoli in his ears so that he wouldn't have to listen to Little Princess's constant shouting.
- In Donkey Kong Country episode "Cranky's Tickle Tonic", Funky is flying Cranky to the White Mountains. However, the plane engine is so loud that Cranky's instructions can't be heard. Funky's solution is to turn the engine off, and the plane plummets.
- In the U.S. Acres portion of one episode of Garfield and Friends, Roy puts on a CD of rooster crows so he doesn't have to do the crowing himself, and puts earmuffs on so he can sleep. The continued crowing prompts Orson to go check it out. After a bit of watching Wade go through a Mattress Tag Gag, this trope plays out for Orson and Roy over both the earmuffs and the stereo.
- In "Clifford's Field Trip" from Clifford's Puppy Days, the group encounters a group of noisy birds during a trip to a rainforest exhibit.
Emily Elizabeth: These birds sure are loud.Shun: (holding his hand to his ear) Sorry. Can't hear ya'. These birds are too loud. (Clifford barks from inside Emily Elizabeth's backpack.)Emily Elizabeth: Did you hear that? It sounded like a dog!Shun: A frog?!
- On Henry Hugglemonster, this is a regular Running Gag with Captain Hollander, who operates the airship.
Henry: (addressing the viewer) This really is the most roarsome day ever.Hollander: What's that? Pull the lever? Okay! (drops pizzas from his airship)