It is widely claimed that at any party, there will naturally be a lull in the conversation every seven minutes.
On TV, this lull always happens just when someone raises their voice to be heard by exactly one person in spite of the crowd or background noise, when they say something private, highly insulting, or incredibly bizarre (or all three). Hilarity Ensues
Another version occurs not with speech, but with music. Somebody will be talking rather loudly to be heard over music, and the music will stop (or the person they're speaking to will remove their headphones) right when the person hits a screaming volume.
Sometimes results in an Orphaned Punchline
- A variation happens in Black Lagoon as Dutch and the gang try to sneak away from a gunfight without being noticed. Unfortunately, Revy gets into an argument with the bartender on the way out and loudly insults him... at the exact moment everyone stops shooting.
- The idiot hero Rat-Man is trying to tell to his best friend that he masturbates a lot. Their conversation is drowned by a near TV, until someone switches to a less loud channel, while Rat-Man says "I masturbate like a Cossack greyhound!". Later, his best friends refuse to shake his hand...
- In Harry Potter and the Champion's Champion the Hogwarts Great Hall went silent just as Madame Pomfrey shouted that Professor Trelawney's medical complaint wasn't morning sickness but rather that "She was suffering from nausea caused by seeing Ron Weasley's arse."
- In Porterhouse Blue, an undergraduate university student goes to see a certain professor whom he has been assured is an experienced counselor for personal problems. The professor claims to be having hearing problems and hands the student a bullhorn, then encourages him to explain his situation in full. The student does so, unaware that his anguished confession of sexual obsession with his big breasted middle-aged bedder is echoing throughout the quad. From the amused reaction of the older students, it is implied that the professor isn't really deaf, he just enjoys getting students to humiliate themselves this way.
- Literary example in the first book of The Wheel of Time, where Rand shouts "Later!" to Perrin just in a lull while everybody is questioning Padan Fain about news of the problems outside.
- In Henry Green's Concluding (1948) a woman at a ball is preparing to defame a man named Rock to her colleague just as the ballroom's gramophone dies. "This Rock," she shouts over the now-quiet room, and deftly turns it into a pun about the building's foundation.
- In The Magician's Nephew, a bird in the newly-created Narnia does this, to the great amusement of the other talking animals. Rather than scold his creations for laughing, Aslan, equally amused, informs the bird that he has become the first joke.
- In Polgara The Sorceress Polgara waits before she enters a room, knowing that a lull in the conversation will come eventually and timing her entrance to that. When the lull doesn't come soon enough for her taste, she asks her mother to give her a hand (it makes sense in context).
- The Eminem song "Just Lose It" includes the lines: "And it's cool if you let one go/ Nobody's gonna know, who'd hear it?/ Give a little "poot poot", it's OK! [Music Stops - Fart Sound plays]/ Oops my CD just skipped/ And everyone just heard you let one rip"
- College Humor's "Awkward Rap" references this.
- Reel Big Fish has one of these during the "Tyler Jones Breakdown" when Aaron declares "This is the part of the show where we talk over each other." At the end Scott is the only one left speaking as he lampshades the entire event, stating that the audience wouldn't understand anything they were saying but it would still "be maybe kinda funny."
- Creed has one of these in the middle of "Signs", with the implication being that when they claim "This is not about sex!", all people hear is the word "sex".
- Happens at the end of Act Two of Noises Off, when stage manager Poppy tries to have a serious conversation with her director and former lover Lloyd. Since they're backstage she tries talking to him in a whisper, until she gets frustrated by his attempts to brush her off and shouts "Well I'm sorry, but you've got to hear BECAUSE I'M PREGNANT!!!" just as the scene being played onstage ends.
- In one play of Alan Ayckbourn's trilogy The Norman Conquests, Living Together, Kavorka Man Norman is having a drunken phone conversation with his wife, Ruth, while Ruth's brother, Reg, is trying to explain the overcomplicated rules of his board game idea to his wife Sarah, his sister Annie, and her would-be boyfriend Tom. The conversation lulls happen just as Norman forgets to keep his voice down, leading to such outbursts as, "I SAID YOU ARE A SELFISH BITCH!", and "LOVE!? WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT LOVE?!"
- Exploited by Sam Starfall in Freefall, who deliberately sets up both the noise and the lull for, well...
- On an early episode of QI, John Sessions told the following anecdote:
The late, lamented, and great Sir John Gielgud was directing a young actor in the West End once, and the young actor was pausing a lot, as young actors tend to do. And Gielgud said to him, "Oh, stop. No, no. No, you must never pause. Never pause in the West End. I paused many, many years ago, and during the silence, I heard a voice from the third row go, 'Oh, you hideous beast! You've just come all over my umbrella!'"
- Courtesy of Texts from Last Night:
Of course the bar would go completely silent right as I yell out "I don't have AIDS"
- Leonard Bernstein told an anecdote in which he conducted The Rite of Spring. At a certain point in the score, very loud music suddenly breaks off and at that moment in the concert he could hear an elderly woman in the audience telling another: "...but I prefer lard."