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Is This Thing On?
Alex the rock star is ready to wow the crowd with his hip brand of radical rap-rock-metal fusion. The crowd remains in an eager silence as he calmly walks onto the stage and takes slow, echoing steps towards his personal, Jimi Hendrix-signed microphone. His hand reaches out to grasp it. A light but dramatic cough, and... "Hey, Is This Thing On?" *tap tap tap* "Testing, testing, 1-2-3...".

9 times out of 10, you can bet any character speaking into a microphone will utter this phrase. Unfortunately, because of a case of TV Never Lies, people do this in Real Life, thinking it is the correct way to test a microphone. Not only is it wrong, it's unnecessary. The audio team will have already spoken into the microphone while setting up the sound system before the audience arrives, and definitely before the speaker arrives on stage. Despite this fact, all forms of media still use this trope, misleading the common people to think that it is necessary to check the mic this way before speaking.

Not to be confused with Is This Thing Still On?, though the two are vaguely similar.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Comedy 
  • Stock covering line for a comedian who tells a joke at which no-one laughs.
  • Parodied by Zack Galifianakis, playing a stand-up comic from the 1700s. "Is this thing on?... What is this thing?"
  • In Bill Bailey's Part Troll tour, he mentions how in one review he was described as looking like "a medieval roadie":
    Bill Bailey: A medieval roadie? Ah, one do I say, one do I say, one do I say, one do I say then surely two should follow, two should follow, two should follow, two should follow.
  • Averted in CrapShots #25. Graham tests the microphone, but does not tap it. He does say some pretty embarrassing things, though.

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • In one Far Side comic, captioned "Testing whether fish have feelings", two scientists have one microphone in a fishbowl inhabited by a single goldfish and another one being held by one of the scientists. The scientist begins to yell insults at the fish, only to ask if the mic is on when he doesn't get a response.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • The 2009 Astro Boy film.
  • Shrek 2 has this trope, although rather amusingly, when the fairy godmother is recording an "answering machine message"...
  • The Incredibles has it in its initial interview to Mr. Incredible.
  • In Home on the Range, show cow Maggie says this line and blows at her cow bell.
  • In WALL•E, the captain of the Axiom begins his groundbreaking announcement that Earth is once again inhabitable by asking this question.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Said in the The Prowler when the supervising teacher tells the partygoers that there is a prowler on the grounds and everyone should stay inside.
  • In Sur la piste du Marsupilami, Not-so-Intrepid Reporter Dan Geraldo does this with the business end of a blowpipe. To be fair, he's thinking it's held by an imposter and not a real jungle native. He gets a faceful of darts for his troubles.

    Literature 
  • Discworld
    • Played with in the novel Thud!: an ancient recording of a historic dwarven leader begins with a couple of loud knocking noises, followed by "Art thys thyng workyng?"
    • In Soul Music, Asphalt the roadie says "One two. One. One. One two." prior to the concert at The Cavern, but doesn't know why.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor does this with his camera when recording his instructions for Martha in Human Nature.
  • Falling Skies: The bonus material on the official site has Pope starting an oral history of the Second Mass on a tape recorder he stumbles on. This is the very first thing he says, and he's genuinely surprised that it works.
  • In one of the last episodes of I Love Lucy, Fred installs an intercom between his guest house and the Ricardo's main house. Lucy tests it with the "Testing 1,2,3" method.
  • Played with in Slings and Arrows. A stagehand soundchecks with "check, one, to be or not to be" before Oliver's memorial service.
  • Stargate SG-1, season 8 episode "New Order, Part 2": Jack O'Neill does this while his mind is merged with the computer of Thor's spaceship, and he's talking through its comms.
    Jack's voice: Hello. Testing, testing. One, two. One, two, one, two, testing. Helloooo? Is this thing on?
  • On the often-aired commercials for the series V-2009, the underside of the alien spacecraft was a huge video screen displaying the smiling face of their leader, Anna. Except for that one time, where it showed Zach Braff saying "Hello? Is this thing on?" It was an promo for Scrubs.
  • Rutland Weekend Television did a song called "Testing."

    Music 
  • Geto Boys — "My minds Plain' Tricks on Me"
    I sit alone in my four cornered room, starin' at candles... Oh that shit is on? heh.
    Let me drop some shit like this here
  • Eminem
    • The Eminem Show album ends with a skit. During the skit Ken Kaniff taps the microphone and says "Erm... izzis thing on...?"
    • At the start of "The Real Sugar Baby" (a cover of Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady", only with a female singer and with "sugar baby" instead of "slim shady") the singer goes into the mic at the start; "Hello, is this thing on?"
  • The Shellac song, "The End of Radio", repeats this phrase many times. Which is especially surreal when you consider that band leader Steve Albini is a professional recording engineer. "This... microphone... turns sound into electricity! Can you hear me now?!"
  • Lady Sovereign begins "A Little Bit of Shhh" with this phrase.
  • Zach De La Rocha of Rage Against the Machine would usually open concerts by shouting "one, two"
  • Less Than Jake has a song with this trope as its name. It uses the phrase to represent loneliness and watching the world leave you behind as you mourn a loss.
    You're on your own.
    Can't make it through this world all alone.
    Is this thing on at all?
  • The Jimi Hendrix song "Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)" has this trope as its first line after the epic intro/solo.
  • Barenaked Ladies' "Testing 1, 2, 3."
    Testing 1,2,3
    Can anybody hear me?
    If I shed the irony
    Would anybody cheer me?
    If I acted less like me
    Would I be in the clear?

    New Media 

     Radio 
  • Rory Bremner's One Question Quiz, with a contestant who's "been dead since 1797":
    Mary Wollstonecraft: tap tap Is this thing on? Also, what is this thing?
  • In the Big Finish Doctor Who Scrapbook Story "Tales from the Vault", Jo's story is on cassette, and begins:
    Jo: Hello? Testing. One, two. Oh, hang on, is this ... oh yeah, the dial's moving. Probably a good sign. Right. Ahem. '-Bzzzzz!- Oh, wrong button. Anyway...

    Theater 
  • Used in Wickedfor a malfunctioning wand.
  • The Tango: Maureen in Rent.
    Mark:Say something. Anything.
    Joanne: Test, 1, 2, 3...
    Mark: ... anything but that.

    Video Games 
  • In Dead to Rights, the objective of one of the levels is to stop a member of a corrupt SWAT-style unit from calling his boss. During the level the guy constantly repeats "Come in, hey Dick you copy! This stupid... What's the damn frequency?"
  • Similarly, Malcolm Corley said "How do I turn this thing off?" in Full Throttle.
  • At one point in Batman: Arkham Asylum, Harley Quinn says this while delivering an announcement over the Arkham Asylum PA system.
  • Harley does it again in Batman: Arkham City when speaking through her statue-communicators.
  • In the intro of Crash Of The Titans, Cortex appears inside of a big zeppelin and utters this line before properly addressing (and kidnapping some of) the protagonists of the game.
  • Resident Evil 5: Albert Wesker says this in a voicemail message (don't look for it in the game; it's a joke by Wesker's VO D.C. Douglas).
    Wesker: Is this thing on? Excella, I told you I hate AT&T! [sigh] Greetings, you have reached Albert Wesker's... celulate device. I'm currently away on business — business that does not concern you. If Chris has given you this number I'll deal with you shortly. If you're calling to confirm the date of launch for the final phase of... the plan, please dial 01-800- [background noise] Excella, do not touch that! [more noise] Goddamnit, woman!

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Uttered by Lrrr of the planet Omicron Persei 8 in an episode of Futurama.
  • Used in the series Dave the Barbarian in which a peasant asks a series of really bad jokes before asking: "Has this thing been invented yet?"
  • Subverted in The Simpsons where Moe tells an awful joke, asks if his microphone is on, then gets an apology from Barney as he failed to plug the wire in.
  • Used in the start of the opening theme for Sid The Science Kid.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls episode "The City of Frownsville", Lou Gubrious sets a ray on Townsville that has everyone crying torrents of tears. The girls attempt to make the crowd at a festival laugh, even though they're crying as well. Blossom taps the mic and sobs, "Is this thing on?"
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, episode "Sisterhooves Social", Granny Smith does it with a megaphone, before grumbling about modern appliances in general.
  • Uncle Fred in Arthur's Perfect Christmas in his video Christmas card. "Is this thing on? ... Oh, it is!"
  • In The Beatles episode "Tell Me Why," the boys discover a donkey that runs like a race horse when exposed to loud music. They enter it in a Madrid race with Ringo as the jockey. As they start to play the opening of the song, nothing is coming out of the speakers—because the guitars weren't plugged into them.

    Real Life 
  • Audio professionals will say "check one two" while setting up microphones since the phrase features harsh syllables and plosives, such as ch-ECK, WUH-ne, and TOO. They don't say three and never tap the mic. If more speech is required, they will use tongue-twisters, poems, newspaper articles, or any other large banks of text to ensure a broad range of vowel and consonant sounds are properly equalized.
  • Reputedly happened to a priest at the beginning of Eucharist. "And He took the bread, praised God and said: Is This Thing On?"
  • At one point in his Presidency, Ronald Reagan was asked to talk into a mic for a sound level and turned the trope Up to Eleven by saying "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." Needless to say, the Russians were not amused, their Air Force staying on guard for a full half hour after the comment. The Americans, on the other hand, were too busy howling with laughter to care much.
  • When you are about to use a mic, just start talking naturally and see if you can hear yourself over the speakers. If it's not on after all, it won't matter. If in doubt, you can always just ask "Can everybody hear me?" Or just give into the meme and start testing.
  • During Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu's final speech on 21 December 1989, as the crowd began to boo and heckle him - an unprecedented moment in Communist Romania - Ceaușescu was so stunned that he resorted to pretending the crowd simply couldn't hear him, tapping his microphone and shouting "Alo!" (the standard Romanian telephone greeting) until order was (temporarily) restored.

Collective GroanRecorded and Stand-Up ComedyRimshot
Is This a Joke?Stock PhrasesIs This Thing Still On?

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