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Literally Laughable Question

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Dana: (on the phone) Hi. I'd like two of your best seats for this afternoon's matinee of The Lion King, anything between the eight and twelfth rows in the center. And if I end up with an obstructed view, you're going to have a very angry woman on your hands. Yes. Yes.
Isaac: What's he saying?
Dana: It's tough to tell – he’s laughing pretty hard. Now he's telling his friends. And there, he just hung up.

The truth is that there are, in fact, stupid questions. Sometimes, a question has such a blatant answer that the person who answers, usually a Deadpan Snarker, can't just say yes or no, or give any normal answer. Instead, that person completely cracks up, to the point where they often looks like they are giving the phrase a new meaning. When this scene occurs, it is a Literally Laughable Question. If the person laughs for an extremely long time, it is also an Overly-Long Gag.

While this sometimes occurs in real life, it is usually used in fictional media as a comedy trope.

Compare Hahaha No and Sarcasm Mode.


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    Fan Fiction 
  • Before the final battle in Infinity, Signum asks Susanoo and Tsukuyomi how to get their older sister to stop hitting on her. Susanoo bursts into laughter and Tsukuyomi giggles.

  • L.A. Story. When Harris K. Telemacher calls up the exclusive restaurant L'Idiot and asks for a reservation for Friday, the response is crazed laughter. When he asks for one on Saturday the response is the same. Only when he asks for one on Sunday does he get a positive response.
  • Porky's: When Coach Ballbricker claims that she can identify a certain penis which had been poked through a peephole to the girls locker room (it has a mole) and demands that she be allowed to examine the suspects' penises, the principal and school administration try to keep from laughing, not always succeeding, as they deny her request.
  • Spider-Man 2: When Peter asks J. Jonah Jameson if Jonah could pay him in advance, Jonah laughs heartily, then responds: "You serious? Pay you for what, standing there?"

  • American Psycho: Patrick Bateman gets this when trying to place last-minute reservations at Dorsia.
  • In Dr. Franklin's Island, the titular Doctor is Faux Affably Evil and likes to talk to his two new test subjects as if they're eager volunteers who'd like to be filled in on the process and have bought in to his mission. When one of the subjects, not playing along, insists on asking when they can contact the authorities and her parents, he laughs and says she gets full marks for persistence. His assistant Dr. Skinner is less sanguine and tends to give the girls a contemptuous laugh as they insist that they can't do this.
  • Ravensong: From Chapter Fifteen: When Stacey asks her Momma's name, due to a His Name Really Is "Barkeep" situation:
    "Momma," she whispered hoarsely into her mother's shoulder, "I don't know your name." Momma bent double with laughter so suddenly Stacey resented it.
    "Momma is my name." She laughed so hard the words were hardly intelligible. She recovered enough to finish. "It was the first word your Gramma learned. She thought it was a name. Imagine having Momma for a name." Both broke into hysterics. "If I'd stayed in school, them nuns would have changed it."

    Live-Action TV 
  • One episode of The Good Wife has Eli Gold trying to figure out if an intern on Peter Florrick's gubernatorial campaign slept with him (she claims on TV that he has a birthmark shaped like Brazil on his penis). When he asks Alicia, Peter's estranged wife, about it, she bursts out laughing at the birthmark part, putting the lie to it.
  • In an episode of My Wife and Kids, Junior wants to follow his girlfriend when she goes to college and says he can get a job in the city she goes to. He asks the guy sweeping the pizza parlour floor what his job pays, and is greeted by hysterical laughter.
  • NYPD Blue: In "NYPD Lou", Alphonse Giardella, a high ranking mob member who has turned state's evidence, hits on the female D.A. who is assigned to his case. She tries to be polite about it but excuses herself to go to the bathroom, where she breaks up laughing over the whole thing. Giardella's enemies take this moment to kill him.
    Giardella: Laura, Laura, I'm trying to tell you how high it is a value I place on our relationship. I'm trying to signify something to you here.
    Laura: Will you excuse me for a moment?
    Giardella: Yeah, sure. Do you gotta go to the bathroom or something? Yeah, you know where it is. Yeah, it's right over there. Just help yourself.
    [Laura enters the bathroom]
    Laura: [silently laughing] Oh, my God.
    Giardella: [through the door] Yeah, you know, and if I come back, uh, we could drive wherever, you know. Maybe one of them, uh, breakfast and board places in them quaint areas. You know, one of them places with the quilts on the bed and, uh, those pictures of the whaling guys. One of these days, all this bouncing around like a cue ball is gonna stop. I'm gonna get myself set up somewhere. Out west, maybe. Can you hear me, Laura? You fall in in there?
  • Played for Drama in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Series Finale, "All Good Things..." — Picard (and the audience) do not understand why Q finds his question laughable:
    Q: There you go again, always blaming me for everything! Well, this time, I'm not your enemy. I'm not the one who causes the destruction of humanity. You are.
    Picard: Me?
    Q: Yes. You're doing it right now. You did it before, and you'll do it yet again.
    Picard: What kind of meaningless doubletalk is this?
    [The whole courtroom laughs]
    Q: [laughing] He doesn't understand! I have only myself to blame, I suppose.
  • Babylon 5: Early in season 4, when a Narn demands to know what G'Kar endured while they were under Centauri occupation, G'Kar — bearing scars from being tortured and nearly beaten to death and a patch over a still-raw eye socket — just starts chuckling to himself.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • In The Bible, Abraham and Sarah were promised by God that they would have a child at some point, but as timed passed, it seemed very unlikely to happen. Finally God informs them that Sarah will in deed give birth. Given that she was 90 at the time, she and Abraham both laughed. Sure enough, she ended up having a boy despite her advanced age, and named him Isaac, One who laughs.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In one strip of Big Nate, Nate's grandparents pay him money for painting their house. When his dad takes him back home, Nate asks if that was enough money for college. Nate's dad completely cracks up, and Nate thinks to himself, "Probably not the best question to ask in a moving car."
  • Garfield strip for January 22, 2016. Jon Arbuckle is a schlemiel who has a female veterinarian named Liz as his girlfriend. When he asks his cat, Garfield, "Do you think I'm good enough for Liz?" Garfield starts laughing uncontrollably. Jon says, "You're the wrong guy to ask," and Garfield muses, "Oh, I think I laugh for everyone."
  • Peanuts Sunday Strip for April 4, 1999. Charlie Brown asks Lucy at her psychiatric booth, "So I'm wondering, could I ever learn to be the life of the party?" Lucy says, "YOU?" and laughs hysterically. She apologizes for laughing and says, "You? The life of the party?" followed by another fit of hysterical laughter.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang attempts to buy a valuable waterbending scroll from a pirate captain that is selling his wares. He offers one copper piece, which causes the captain to laugh loudly at him and assume he's joking since his asking price is 200 gold pieces. When Aang ups his offer to two copper pieces, the pirate stops laughing and says it isn't funny the second time.
  • On The Brave Little Toaster, the appliances end up on a spare parts store where old appliances are stripped for parts. When Lampy asks how they can escape, the hanging lamp on the storeroom says "Did you hear that? They want to know how to escape!", followed by laughter from all the doomed appliances.
  • In the Hey Arnold! episode, "Arnold's Christmas", in order to find Mr. Hyunh's daughter for Christmas, Arnold makes a deal with the head of the head of the office of missing people by promising him and Gerald would do his Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve. They get all the items on the list other then a pair of designer snow boots, but when they ask the store clerks to buy a pair, they all laugh out loud at them saying they've been out of stock for months. A montage shows them going to pretty much ever store in town and get the exact same reaction of uproarious laughter from every clerk they ask.
  • Let's Go Luna!: In "Lights Out!", Leo asks the owner of a nearby Croatian electronics shop if they have the rare Z batteries Senor Fabuloso needs for his reading light. The shopowner starts laughing without actually answering the question, and he later closes up the shop, which Luna assumes is his way of saying that they don't have them.
  • Subverted in The Simpsons when Marge tries joining the Springfield Police Department. Her request to sign up is met with the cops laughing for several seconds... only for them to stop and say "welcome aboard". In the end, when she declares her resignation over their stealing the evidence for their own use, they laugh again, but then politely wish her luck.
  • Total Drama: While looking for the briefcase with the prize money in "Total Drama Drama Drama Drama Island", Trent, Gwen, and Leshawna come across Heather, whose head is stuck in a dam and who's getting beaten up by beavers. It's brutal and she begs to be saved. Trent asks his teammates if they should come to her aid, a question which, in light of all the horrible things Heather pulled on them during the season, is met with roaring laughter by all three of them. As they walk away, Leshawna even compliments Trent on the joke.
  • Work It Out Wombats!: In "Make It Snow," the wombats ask if the Everything Emporium sells snow. This gets a good chuckle out of Mr. E.


Video Example(s):


"That's not a good sign"

Rocko calls a contractor to fix his ruined kitchen, but his reaction does not bode well.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / HelplessWithLaughter

Media sources: