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Jackhammered Conversation

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[perfectly timed jackhammer noises go here]

"Oh, Lois, you are so full of-"
"What?! Now I can't say [HONK] in my own [HONK]ing house?! [HONK] great, Lois, just [HONK]ing great! You know, you're lucky you're good at [HONK] my [HONK] or I'd never put up with ya! You know what I'm talking about. When you [HONK] lubed-up [HONK] toothpaste in my [HONK] while you [HONK] on a cherry [HONK] Episcopalian [HONK] extension cord [HONK] wetness [HONK] with a parking ticket? That was the best."
Peter Griffin, Family Guy

And now, a desc- (VERY LOUD JACKHAMMER NOISES GO HERE) -m yours truly.

A Jackhammered Conversation is a Dialogue trope where some repetitive noise (such as a jackhammer) prevents the audience from hearing multiple sections of a conversation.

In most cases, all parties except for the viewer can hear what is said. However, on occasion, it's lampshaded by having characters claim that they're unable to hear them. The "gaps" between audible dialogue tend to include sentences or chunks of sentences that seem somewhat unrelated. Usually, it's Played for Laughs, and understanding what you can't hear isn't usually important to the know because either nobody was supposed to understand it in the first place, or everyone else is supposed to get it but you, thus the joke. This trope is almost always justified in one way or another.

The gaps in dialogue could be used to set up a Noodle Incident (by leaving out information essential to understanding the incident), The Unreveal (by setting up a reveal before having the noise cover it up), and/or Cluster Bleep-Bomb (by using the noise to censor every swear word in the conversation). Not to be confused with Plot-Based Voice Cancellation, where a single line is censored by something rather than multiple lines being covered up by some noise that always exists In-Universe. Compare I Can't Hear You.

See also Sound-Effect Bleep.


    open/close all folders 

  • A commercial for Hotel Tonight has three people talking about how they should have a "three day," that is, take a three-day weekend to travel together. Of course, every time they say three day, the D is obscured by a sound effect (like a blender running), making it sound like they are discussing having Three-Way Sex.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Crayon Shin-chan have the dinner reconciliation date between Ume Matsuzaka and Tokuro Gyoda during a buffet, where they're discussing the future of their relationship after a botched Operation: Jealousy (Ume caught Tokuro hanging out with his lady assistant and suspects of him having an affair, before deciding to retaliate by flirting in front of him with her second lover, Shingo Kakeda). Unfortunately, said discussion occurs during a massive musical performance in the background, and their attempts to sort things out get repeatedly hammered by the sound of drums.
    Tokuru: She's not my girlfriend! She's only my... [cue drumroll drowning out Tokuro's words] do you even hear what I'm saying?

    Film — Animated 
  • Monsters vs. Aliens: Gallaxhar is explaining to Susan the motivation for his evil plan to conquer Earth with an army of clones of himself. Unfortunately for Susan, he explains while he's in a cloning device that keeps opening and shutting, interrupting him. Apparently, it involved a terrible secret about his parents, an encounter with a giant... something, and a bad break-up with his fiancee. He seems oblivious to the fact he was continuously interrupted, and tells the befuddled Susan "But I've already said too much!"
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet: Felix and Calhoun explain the secret to being the absolute perfect parents, but the Sugar Rush racers zoom by, preventing the audience from hearing what they're saying.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Forrest Gump has a speech during the March on the pentagon. He claims he only has one thing to say about the war. Then, a man sabotaged the speaker system right as Forest starts talking. By the time the speakers are back up, his speech is over. (Tom Hanks says that Forrest said, "Sometimes when people go to Vietnam, they go home to their mommas without any legs. Sometimes they don't go home at all. That's a bad thing.") The only person who appears to have heard what Forest said was Abbie Hoffman, who claims "That's so right-on army man. You said it all."
  • The action film Princess Madam has the scene where protagonist Lisa breaks up with her boyfriend halfway through the movie, which is seen only from a distance away. The conversation between the couple isn't heard, and all the audience can tell is that Lisa is furious.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 30 Rock: In the episode "When It Rains, It Pours", a construction worker says some things to Liz that are presumably vulgar, but are obscured by a nearby jackhammer. The things Liz shouts back at him get the same treatment.
  • Done for a Candid Camera Prank where a woman being called on the phone is told to relay a message, only for construction workers nearby to start using their jackhammers (on a hidden signal) so she can't hear it. Eventually the joke is revealed and she's told she can watch herself on the Candid Camera show at—(jackhammers start up again)
  • In Christmas Eve on Sesame Street Big Bird tells Oscar his theory that Santa can fit down chimneys because he ties his belt on so tight that he becomes skinny. Oscar cusses him out as a subway goes by and the noise obscures most of his words (Video!):
    You are, without a doubt, the stupidest (subway train passes by, clatter clatter) bird I ever met!
  • Get Smart: At Max and Agent 99's wedding, a wedding guest snores loudly just as the minister is saying 99's real name, so the audience never hears her name.
  • Similiar to the Get Smart example above, a flashback on That '70s Show shows Fez introducing himself, only for a really long school bell to go off, drowning him out (Word of God says the actor, Wilmer Valderrama, was just saying the names of the other cast members)
  • Monk: Averted in an early episode set in the Big Applesauce, where there's a scene in which Adrian Monk keeps getting interrupted by a nearby jackhammer. He starts to speak, pauses and waits for the jackhammer to go quiet, starts his sentence over again, and gets cut off by the jackhammer again. After several minutes of not being able to finish a single sentence, he finally gets upset enough to just shout over the jackhammer.
  • The Prisoner (1967): in the final episode, "Fall Out", the Prisoner is invited to give a speech. He barely gets a few words in before the jury behind him starts chanting "I! I! I! I! I! I!" which completely drowns him out.
  • Will & Grace: Sandra Bernhard cusses a blue streak at our heroes, while her assistant is making smoothies, loudly pulsing the blender every few seconds.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Fairly OddParents!, whenever Timmy's father's actual name is mentioned, a loud noise sounds off somehow so the audience cannot hear it.
  • Family Guy:
    • Invoked in "PTV" and combined with Cluster Bleep-Bomb when the FCC begins censoring real life and a G-man blocks out Peter's swears with an airhorn. His ensuing rant brings up a lot of sexual Noodle Implements.
      Peter: Oh, Lois, you are so full of [HONK]! What?! Now I can't say [HONK] in my own [HONK]ing house?! [HONK] great, Lois, just [HONK]ing great! You know, you're lucky you're good at [HONK] my [HONK] or I'd never put up with ya! You know what I'm talking about. When you [HONK] lubed-up [HONK] toothpaste in my [HONK] while you [HONK] on a cherry [HONK] Episcopalian [HONK] extension cord [HONK] wetness [HONK] with a parking ticket? That was the best.
    • In one instance where Quagmire attempts to tell a story about the "Hot homeless twins who live under the overpass", Peter warns Quagmire to stop temporarily so he could cover Stewie's ears. The scene proceeds to show Quagmire telling the story in complete silence, making several suggestive gestures, the least of which include him pointing directly at his crotch, putting his leg over the back of his head, and pulling out a plunger and pretending to use it. Let's just say Stewie was justly horrified when Quagmire attempted to play "Got Your Nose" with him when it was over, given the only snippet he managed to hear from the end of the story:
      Quagmire: And this is the hand that caused all the trouble!
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: When Billy tries to teach Nergal how to make friends, one of his attempts is conversing with Puddin while they're on a Ferris Wheel. We only hear the bits of the conversation when the wheel brings them on-camera, but whatever story Nergal is telling ("—by this point the stench was unbearable") makes Puddin nauseous.
  • The Loud House:
    • In "Get the Message", Lincoln's insulting voice message to Lori is censored by Luna rocking out on her axe.
    • In "Job Insecurity", Lola's insulting message to Sergei is censored by Leni's hair dryer.
  • Milo Murphy's Law: In "Athlamathdecathalon", Milo is the last member of his team still able to continue and the question is one whose answer is on the tip of his tongue. So Milo thinks back: Milo is in class, and just as the answer is spoken, the groundskeeper roars by on a riding mower. Milo is home in front of the TV with his family but everything slows to a stop as the power fails. Fortunately his friend is in shouting distance and she calls out to remind him in time to get the question and win.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Occurs in the episode "Excaliferb" when Malifishmertz talks about his plan for seizing control of the Tri-Kingdom Area.
      Malifishmertz: Let me tell you about my plan for seizing control of the Tri-Kingdom Area: You see, I was bullfrog hunting down by the rat-catchers shack and came across...[Malifishmertz rounds a corner while descending a circular staircase; his voice becomes muffled and indistinguishable; comes back into view] ... with the biggest raspberry I've ever seen! It was the size of a cucumber![rounding another corner, becoming again muffled; returns to view] ... is what I said because I had a gag over my mouth.[rounding another corner and muffled once again; comes back into view] And THAT'S why I decided to take over the Tri-Kingdom Area. True story.
    • Jeremy and Candace are taking a romantic ride through the rainforest the boys created, and Jeremy is serenading Candace to tell her why he likes her. We hear each verse of the song, but when he gets to the chorus, it goes "What I like about you is [flamingos fly by honking]" "What I like about you is [they pass under a roaring waterfall]" "What I like about you is [croaking frogs]".
  • Used in Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja When Howard tells the Bogger story in "Welcome Back Catfish". What's even more confusing is the hand gestures that he uses while telling the story and the fact that Randy is nearly throwing up upon hearing it. It's then used as a Chekhov's Gag to get a monster to throw up one of the sorcerer's orbs of power.
  • In the Steven Universe short "Video Chat", this happens to Peridot when her Internet access breaks up. Ironically, it happens as she's explaining how she got the Internet working so well; it apparently involved some ferocious animal that chased her down and bit her while she was carrying her laptop.
    Peridot: So, I had to go through— [glitches] So, there I was, face to face with one of those big— [glitches] —running for my life with nothing but a— [glitches] And then it bit me! [glitches] And now the Wi-Fi works perfectly.
  • Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race: When Devin finally tells the sisters that he is in love with Carey, Emma's aggravated response is continually interrupted by the sound of the train horn.


Video Example(s):


Peter Censored By The FCC

In-universe, the family is being censored by the FCC, represented via a man blowing an air horn whenever anyone says something not fit for public TV. However, so much of Peter's dialogue gets censored that what's left makes zero sense to the audience given it lacks more than half of the context.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / JackhammeredConversation

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