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Seven Minute Lull

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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.


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  • 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 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 goes silent just as Madame Pomfrey shouts that Professor Trelawney's medical complaint wasn't really morning sickness.
    Madam Pomfrey: She was suffering from nausea caused by seeing Ron Weasley's arse.
  • In Harry Potter, Unexpected Animagus Fred and George reveal that they accidentally mentioned Harry's "enormous penis" during a pirate radio broadcast of First Task commentary. The Great Hall goes mostly quiet just in time for his response.
    Harry: Come on, guys! It's not that big. It's only eight maybe nine inches at most!
  • The Miraculous Ladybug fic Name Drop has a variant, where Plagg tries to hold a conversation with Adrien in the bathroom over the sound of running water.
    Plagg: You know for all we talk about "curses" and "bad luck" you don't exactly take steps to improve your standing, kid. I know this is rich coming from me but at some point you need to take responsibility.
    Adrien: What?
    Plagg: I said you should try harder to get to know this girl instead of just gawking at her and kissing her hand like a moron!
    Adrien: I can't hear you!
    Plagg: If it's okay to eat all the cheese in the fridge, say what!
    Adrien: What?
    Plagg: I said Ladybug's real identity is that Marinette girl and you're a big jackass for not realizing it on your own! (Slowly realises that the bathtub stopped filling a few moments before.)
    Adrien: Wh...what?
  • In the Kim Possible fic Alone, Together, Kim and Shego emerge from the mine where Kim had been trapped... engaged in a passionate kiss in front of a gaggle of reporters. Ron, realizing that he has to do something before Kim freaks out or Shego starts lobbing plasma, disguises his voice and yells "Is it true Shego's vagina tastes like mint?" just as there is a momentary lull in the reporters' shouted questions. The question is so outrageous that it embarrasses the reporters into silence and so absurd that it derails Kim's panic at being outed.
  • In The Lonely Letters the Great Hall goes quiet just as Hermione raises her voice during an argument with Ron about the Triwizard Tournament.
    Hermione: People die in the tournament Ron!
  • In Heroes the party room at Olympus goes quiet while Rachel and Octavian are having an argument about Annabeth being the daughter of Athena.
    Octavian: Minerva's not supposed to have a child.
    Rachel: No, she's just not supposed to have sex!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Clue: When the guests first arrive, there is a rather awkward silence between them as they wonder why they are there. When they sit down to dinner, the only sound is the guests slurping soup. Finally, Mrs Peacock breaks the silence with a long speech, which is followed by another stunned silence. Later, Professor Plum asks Mrs Peacock if she is afraid of silence, as she tries again to make conversation.
    Mrs Peacock: (Breathlessly, after a long silence) Well, somebody's got to break the ice, and it might as well be me. I mean, it's always difficult when a group of new friends get together for the first time to get acquainted, but I'm perfectly prepared to start the ball rolling. I mean, I have no idea what I'm doing here, I mean what we're all doing here, but I am determined to enjoy myself; very intrigued, and oh my, this soup's delicious, isn't it? (Silence before somebody else speaks)
  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005), during the flashback to the party where Arthur and Trillian met, Arthur is criticizing the other party-goers for not recognizing her costume (Charles Darwin), and ends up blurting out "All these people are idiots!" during a Seven Minute Lull when the record player gets bumped.
  • Happens twice to Janice of The Muppets: once in The Great Muppet Caper, and once in The Muppets Take Manhattan. Both times discussing nudity.
  • In 10 Things I Hate About You, Patrick says during a loud song at a club:
    Patrick: I was watching you out there, before. I've (music stops) never seen you look so sexy.
  • In Honey We Shrunk Ourselves, the mother yells to overcome the noise of a nearby construction crew. The noise stops just as she's yelling about one of the kids having clean underwear, much to his embarrassment.
  • Happens twice in the movie Dick; the first time at the roller rink when Arlene yells "I love Dick!!" during the lull, and later outside when Betsy yells "You can't let Dick control your life" during a moment of silence. They are, of course, talking about President Richard Nixon; why, what did you think they were talking about?
  • Played for Drama in the 1930 film The Big House. A group of convicts planning a Great Escape are passing some guns and ammunition to each other while intoning the Lord's Prayer in the prison chapel. As the prayer comes to an end, one of them accidentally drops a bullet on the stone floor, causing them all to tense up.
  • In the 1985 action-comedy Gotcha, the protagonist is griping to his best friend how he's still a virgin during a college lecture, saying "I can't seem to get laid!" right on the lull. The teacher smirks and informs him that "every dog has his day."
  • The Assignment (1997). During a US Navy ball, CIA agent Jack Shaw tries to goad naval officer Annibal Ramirez into dropping a Precision F-Strike when the band stops playing, but he doesn't rise to the bait.
    Annibal: Excuse me, my wife is waiting for her club soda.
    Shaw: Oh, now there's a fiery retort!
    Annibal: How about 'fuck you', pal?
    Shaw: I believe that if you say it a little louder...
    (band stops playing; Annibal just laughs)

  • 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).
  • Harry's Game by Gerald Seymour. Two intelligence officers in a Belfast restaurant are discussing the undercover operation involving the protagonist, when a lull occurs in the band music. They quickly stop talking, but not before a waiter hears some of their conversation. He tips off the IRA causing them to start investigating everyone who's recently arrived in the area.
  • Played for Drama in the Agatha Christie novel Cards on the Table. The enigmatic Mr. Shaitana, who knows a great many secrets about people, hosts a dinner party for eight specially invited guests. As they chat, Shaitana begins musing about different types of murders and how they might be committed, ending with the apparently rhetorical question "But who am I to judge—with so many experts present?" just as a hush falls over the room. As it happens, he deliberately arranged the party to include four people related to crime—mystery novelist Ariadne Oliver, Scotland Yard Superintendent Battle, Secret Service agent Colonel Race, and the famed private detective Hercule Poirot—and four people who he knew had literally gotten away with murder and never been brought to justice. The stunned silence over Shaitana's comment is promptly lampshaded by Mrs. Oliver, who offers some superstition about lulls in conversation: "An angel is passing. My feet are crossed—it must be a black angel!"

    Live Action TV 
  • Being Human:
    • George approaching his time of the month and wanting to "Bang the granny" out of any woman he can find.
    • Used again as a malfunctioning rape alarm is shut off just in time for Tom to yell 'WE'RE BOTH WEREWOLVES!' for the entire street to hear. Lampshaded by Hal's response
      Hal How depressingly predictable.
  • In one episode of Cheers, Norm is forced to shout over construction noises, but the audience still can't hear what he's saying until the construction pauses just as he shouts, "The world's biggest ass!"
  • From the long-running Mexican Sitcom El Chavo del ocho:
    • A Running Gag involves everybody arguing until Profesor Jirafales or some authority figure makes everybody shut upnote , and only the naive Chavo still talks, always saying something insulting towards the authority person (such as referring to Profesor Jirafales as "Maestro Longaniza", as Don Ramón aften does).
    "Se me chispoteo."
    • Subverted in at least one episode, when after a similar situation happens, it ends with El Chavo saying "And now I'm not sayin' anything".
  • ER: Frustrated with an impending lawsuit, his nagging boss, and worsening PTSD following a vicious attack, Mark Greene is trying to talk to a deaf, elderly woman about her husband's condition and growing even more frustrated because she can't understand him. He finally gets fed up and screams at her that her husband is terminally ill, just as everyone else in the waiting area and the nurse's station shuts up, leaving him thoroughly humiliated by his behavior.
  • Father Ted: "Chirpy Burpy Cheep Sheep" - Ted makes a dramatic entrance to the King of the Sheep tournament. As he announces to all assembled the identity of the saboteurs, the audience mutter among themselves; as they finish, a man is clearly heard to say "Fuckin' hell!" (swearing, apart from "feck" and "bollocks", never otherwise appeared in Father Ted).
  • Frasier:
    • "The Doctor Is Out". Frasier and Niles have walked into a gay bar looking for someone they believe is gay. Loud music is playing, and Niles feels more and more uncomfortable, especially knowing that Daphne expects him home soon - so he pleads with Frasier to give it up and leave, and just as the music stops, he yells, "I'm begging you, please take me home!"
    • In another episode, there is construction in Frasier's apartment. Daphne and one of the construction workers are struggling to have a conversation. There's a lull just in time for everyone to hear Daphne say, "I said I don't want to go out with you!"
  • Friends: In "The One Where Rachel's Sister Baby-sits", Mike Hannigan takes Phoebe to a hockey game for their one-year anniversary. Straining to get her voice heard by Mike over the roar of the crowd, Phoebe yells out "You're so smart, and generous, and you're AMAZING in bed!" Guess at what point the crowd died down.
  • In one episode of Gary and Mike, the titular duo is at a punk gig, Gary tries to tell Mike that "This band sucks, let's go", with predictable results.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • Ted is on a blind date at an unbearably loud dance club. After realizing that his date is just nodding along politely and can't really hear a thing he's saying, he starts saying random silly things for the fun of it — then the music cuts out just in time for him to yell "I'm wetting my pants!" in her face.
    • Later during the same episode, the club plays a different song with enough space during each beat that Barney and Marshall can talk during each lull.
  • In one episode of Married... with Children, while the neighbor Steve and Marcy are over at the Bundy's, Kelly is playing loud music and Peggy goes to put a stop to it. Speaking over the music, Marcy mentions lending Peggy and Al a parenting book, with Steve (loudly) responding "I don't think Al and Peggy read much" just as the music stops.
  • M*A*S*H
    • In one episode where everyone thinks that Trapper is going back to the States due to an ulcer, the camp is throwing him a "farewell" party. At one point Hawkeye gives a heartfelt speech about how they'll all miss him as a friend and colleague, and in the ensuing silence, a drunken Colonel Blake is overheard trying to pick up a nurse in a corner of the room.
    • Inverted in another episode. Hawkeye is telling a joke to two women as they leave the officer's club and comes to the punchline right when a jet passes by overhead and blanks out what he was saying.
  • In an episode of Mork & Mindy, the lull happens just as Mork tells Mindy "...and you look great naked."
  • In The Office (UK), David Brent gets caught in the middle of a (lame) dirty joke in the Seven Minute Lull at the end of "The Party."
  • Happens in Neighbours when the stereo is unplugged just when Janae is telling Darren that they should come clean to Libby about their kiss.
  • One of Penn Jillette's trick is a double magic trick with another magician, the two of them simultaneously asking separate audience members to draw a card and not show it. They both talk really fast over each other's lines and when the other one stops, he leaves Penn to deliver the perfectly audible line "... while traveling through vinegar", bereft of any context.
  • In "Lone Wolf," from Resident Alien, worried about government snoops and listening devices, Deputy Liv takes Sheriff Mike to a secluded area in the 59 bar where loud music is being played in order to have a shouted conversation about a clue she found regarding their investigation into the death of the Alien Tracker. However, this just results in an I Can't Hear You gag in which Sheriff Mike thinks she's talking about someone having diarrhea, culminating with him shouting "I don't have diarrhea!" just as the music stops.
  • This happened in the Saturday Night Live skit, "Family Dinner". Will Ferrell plays a beleaguered father shouting to be heard over his bickering family at the dinner table. They would always stop abruptly just as he shouted something unimpressive in an attempt to assert his authority, such as "I'm a division manager!" or "I drive a Dodge Stratus!"
  • Played With on Whose Line Is It Anyway? during a game of Scenes From a Hat where the scene was "Things you don't want to be shouting at a party when the loud music suddenly stops."
    Wayne Brady: I HAD A SEX CHANGE!
  • Will & Grace:
    • In an episode, the conversation lulls at a gallery opening on cue every time someone says "I'm out," prompting applause from the audience at the unintentional Double Entendre.
    • In another episode, Grace is talking to Karen at the opera. Grace is speaking loudly to be heard over the soprano; the music fades to silence in time for Grace's last word, "homos!" to echo several times through the silent theater.

  • 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"
  • 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".

    Stand Up Comedy 
  • George Carlin, quite rightly, says that these are one of those moments that seems to last forever. He provides an example: being at a party where the conversation is so loud that you have to shout to be heard by the person standing next to you.
    "Right! Right! I know! I know! So what I'm gonna do is, I'm gonna get my TESTICLES LAMINATED!"

  • 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?!"

    Video Games 
  • Can happen on a particular Persuasive failure in Fallen London. If you're at a party and choose to argue with the Jovial Contrarian...
    After he dismisses, overrules and quibbles your every reasonable point you decide to give unreason a go and indulge in a brief tirade that unfortunately coincides with a break in the music.
  • In Puzzle Agent 2, Nelson Tethers tries to tell his boss, Director Jennings, about the strange goings-on in Scoggins, while a skeptical Jennings is noisily drinking a milkshake. This leads to Tethers shouting "THE ASTRONAUTS IN THE FOREST ARE MURDERING PEOPLE!" just as Jennings stops, which really doesn't help in convincing his boss he's not crazy.

  • Exploited by Sam Starfall in Freefall, who deliberately sets up both the noise and the lull for, well...
    Mayor: This is a direct order! Hit me with a pie!

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama, "The Farnsworth Parabox": While massive rumbling occurs in the background, Leela tries to turn Fry down for a date: "I can't go out tonight because..." (rumbling stops) "I have sweaty boot rash!"
    Amy: "No fluh! Why do you think that I'm sitting over here in the stink-free zone?"
  • South Park, "Two Guys Naked in a Hot Tub": During the Seven Minute Lull, Stan's dad Randy accidentally confesses he and Kyle's dad Gerald watched each other masturbate in the hot tub.
  • Happens in an episode of the Waterman animated series - There's a flashback to a party at an art gallery and the lull comes just as Waterman says, "Rectum? Damn near herpes!" Everyone stays dead silent. Thinking their silence is an indication they didn't hear the punchline, Waterman repeats himself, and as he does so the view pulls out to reveal that he and the pair he's talking to are standing next to a piece consisting of a microphone and a number of stadium bullhorns, which have been broadcasting his every word to the entire gallery anyway. Then he realizes he botched the punchline.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • "The Ticket Master": Twilight's friends all start arguing at once over who gets the extra ticket to the Gala, and eventually Twilight yells at them to be quiet. They all shut up except for Pinkie Pie, who blurts out "...And Then I Said 'Oatmeal? Are you crazy?!'" before realizing what's going on.
    • Happens again in "One Bad Apple" when the Cutie Mark Crusaders try to tell Applejack that they booby trapped their float during a noisy parade.
  • In the Daria episode "Ill", Jane wants to ask Daria whether she wants to get a burger, but the music is too loud. She ends up yelling "GET! BURGER!" just when the music quiets down.

    Real Life 
  • 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."
  • A woman told a story on herself, claimed to be true, which she submitted to a magazine article. She and a small group of friends were going to a party where they didn't quite fit in with most of the people and felt socially anxious. To cope, they agreed to tell each other classic children's stories so they could appear to be in conversation. She was telling the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The room went silent on, "Somebody's been sleeping in my bed!"


Video Example(s):


All These People are Idiots

In a flashback in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," Arthur Dent attends a party as David Livingstone and Tricia MacMillan attends as Charles Darwin. Tricia tells Arthur he's the first person to recognize her costume and he comments that most of the people who attend parties like this are drunken idiots. She can't hear him, so he shouts that "All of these people are idiots!" just as someone knocks over the record player.

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