Nothing But the Sound of Crickets

Striking up conversation with random people is something I love to do especially when I am running errands. It makes a boring trip to the store much more pleasurable. Sometimes I throw in a bit of humor to add levity to an otherwise mundane situation. I think it surprises some folks so much, that it renders them dumbfounded.  While staring at the shopper/salesperson/bagger with a silly smile on my face, I wait for a reaction.

I have come up with an excuse for their blank dull stare after my feeble attempts to make someone smile. I just assume that they don’t speak English. If they respond by sighing while  giving me an eye roll, that’s when I want to channel Foghorn Leghorn. He’d say, “That’s a joke son. Now look at me when I’m talkin’ to yah.”



Image from Wikimedia Commons

Sarcasm is a sort of humor that is a form of teasing. It is often followed by the words, “Just kidding!” In Wisconsin, my friends and I were raised on a steady diet of this type of comedy along with cheese curds and corn on the cob.

When I moved from Wisconsin to Colorado, I got a lot of blank dull stares after throwing a few one-liners at my new friends. It makes me think that humor is regional. Maybe back when the West was wild, a couple of outlaws sat around a campfire on pins and needles after a long day of shoot-outs. Then someone said, “Hey look! It’s Billy the Kid!…. Just (air quotes) ‘Kid’ing!’ Get it? Hahaha!” The gunman who was the butt of his joke, swung back around and shot the silly cowboy, putting an end to a long genetic line of humorous goofballs. Soon all the jokesters were weeded out, leaving only the serious types to settle down and procreate. The Wild West was no place for funny stuff.

Whereas back in Wisconsin, the early settlers focused on their barley crops and soon beer flowed in the taverns which could be found on every corner. Instead of fighting, they polkaed and mastered the art of joke-telling.

These famous people would have easily fit in if they had lived in Wisconsin. I found a few of their gems on

Groucho Marx:

“If you find it hard to laugh at yourself, I would be happy to do it for you.”

“I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll be glad to make an exception.”

Mark Twain:

“I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”

Oscar Wilde:

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.”


100,ooo sperm and you were the fastest?

Ashleigh Black:

“Sometimes I need what only you can provide: your absence.”

Stephen Bishop:

“I feel so miserable without you, it’s almost like having you here.”

Billy Wilder:

“He has Van Gogh’s ear for music.”

Abraham Lincoln:

“He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know.”

Kin Hubbard:

“A good listener is usually thinking about something else.”

Here are some of my own lame attempts at sarcasm. Have you ever noticed that when it is really quiet, you can hear the sound of crickets?

Recently on a trip to the grocery store I made small talk with the bagger and said, “I can’t believe I left my bags in the car again. I should just put them on my dashboard or start wearing them as a hat.”…Sound of crickets…

While my husband Danny and I hiked down from the Royal Arch rock formation in Boulder, we ran into some hikers on the way up the strenuous trail. I said, “You better hurry or all the beer will be gone.”…Sound of crickets…

I hit the back wall in tennis and asked my opponent, “Was that out?” …Sound of crickets…

Last Christmas I posted an update on Facebook. “I just finished my Christmas shopping. I snatched my last gift out of an old lady’s hand.” …Sound of crickets… After a  couple of hours I added, “Just kidding!”

I had to get a vaginal ultrasound since my doctor thought I had an ovarian cyst. She put a condom on the device and I said, “Gosh, I’m so glad it has protection. I would hate to get pregnant.” …Sound of crickets…

Granted some of these are really dumb, but considering the circumstances, I at least expected a smile and not a, “What???” (Eyes look skyward, then head tilts with index fingertip placed firmly on chin while mouth gapes open wide.)

Foghorn Leghorn gives some great tips on humor in this short clip:

In absence of laughter:

Do you think humor is regional?

Are you a good audience or an eye roller?


128 thoughts on “Nothing But the Sound of Crickets

  1. I love sarcasm! I never understand when people don’t get it. Except for small children because they aren’t developmentally ready for it yet, which is why it is funny. We can have are own personal jokes that they don’t get and they just like to see us laugh and smile. I had an incident in college where a study buddy asked to use my bathroom and I said, “Sure, just put a quarter on the counter when you are done.” I was being sarcastic, but she thought I was serious. I found a quarter on the counter when I went in there later. Oops. But seriously, who charges someone to use their bathroom? I say, if they don’t get it, it’s their loss! You’re funny.


    • That is a PERFECT example of what I am talking about! To me it is so obvious that I am kidding, but they think I am dead serious!

      I used to tell my bored children to go play in the street when they were really young…
      Thanks for reading Emma!


    • Sarcasm is trickier in word, because a lot of our communicative skill comes from inflection and gesture. We can generally see the snark as much as hear it. Written word can sanitise and run up against things people feel some defence of or passion for.

      For instance, as an lgbtq person and specifically a transsexual lesbian, I can probably get away with a remark on the community that a hetero person might not be able to pull off.

      Other things can factor in as well… in the US, women’s rights are under severe political assault. A lot of us are touchy about it. A feminist cracking a joke can get away with the humour, Rush Limbaugh, not so much. And yet… someone outside the country might not be aware of our fool political doings.


  2. You would definitely fit in here in central Indiana. Sarcasm? It’s a way of life around here. If you haven’t seen every Chevy Chase movie by age six, then there’s no hope for you.

    I thought they were funny. Great read : )


  3. Heh, a British friend of mine ran into difficulty exiting Germany (an unfounded accusation by a left lover.) When detained at the airport pending a quick review of circumstance, she remarked, ‘Oh no, you found me drugs!’ totally in humour. They were not amused. I’d convey that with accent, but people might be left scratching their heads. ;-) BTW, they stopped her flight outbound, but put her on a flight the next day, she was headed to the US… the date of her arrival here? 10 September, 2001.


    • Wow that is amazing! I did a similar stunt out at the airport after all that happened and we traveled to Panama. Something like “Oh yah they better frisk me because I am such a terrorist,” (eyeroll) and the guard very curtly told me to shut up unless I wanted to go to security…forgot about that one!


      • Wow! Too funny! It reminds me of another friend, then in the Air Force, she pinned a guard up against an x-ray machine, arm pulled behind the guard;s back, for grabbing at her necklace. This too was before 11 September.

        And I thought me crazy. ;-) That British friend could always make me laugh, so those of you armed with irrepressible sense of humour… more power to you. She jumped in my lap on a public bus, and declared to everyone on board ‘she was my bewse boody’ with a following wide eyed ramble worthy of Kathy Bates.

        I’ve got a funny feeling you have that same humour gene.


      • I once witnessed that rarest of occurrences — a (pre-9/11) airport security officer made a sarcastic joke, and the passenger didn’t get it. I was in line to get my carry-on bags x-rayed, right behind a kid (about 14 years old) with a big box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. The security guy looked at the doughnuts and said (in an obviously joking tone of voice) “oh, we’re going to have to confiscate those”. The poor kid thought he was serious.


  4. Good! I love one liners and jokes, however I’m awful at remembering them. My dad is the best, he has a repertoire of so many, whereas my sis and I have to write them down. I love shocking my kids in the morning or saying something to get a reaction, like “Mom” and followed by eye rolls and smiles they don’t want to give out(it’s an age thing/teens). I like your good listener one up there.


    • My dad is a natural too and still tells tons of jokes at 86 years old!

      I laughed so hard at the good listener joke too! Danny had tears rolling down his cheeks as he read them- :)


  5. I can be sarcastic to a tee and i would have cracked up at all those. You have to be so careful on places like FB with jokes, some people just don’t get it and end up thinking you’re weird (well yes but..) sense of humour where are you? Wake up everyone!


  6. “Sound of crickets” I love that – fits perfectly with some of the bombs I’ve dropped over the years! I love sarcasm and dry wit, although I’m not good at it. Dorothy Parker is one of my favorites, along with Mark Twain.


  7. Recently on a trip to the grocery store I made small talk with the bagger and said, “I can’t believe I left my bags in the car again. I should just put them on my dashboard or start wearing them as a hat.

    Yes i too have said something close to that hahaha


  8. Great Post! We must live in parallel universes because I really enjoy that head to head interchange with strangers also. Some of them will respond and some won’t. I had such an encounter with an individual a while back that I wrote about called “Alien Encounters”. It’s too long to place here but if you’re ever so inclined:
    Bob Cloud


  9. Humor definitely comes in different forms depending on the region. In Jordan, I remember being surprised at how funny the people could be, but it wasn’t that sarcastic wit that I grew up with. Your sense of humor reminds me of my dad’s actually! :) Unfortunately he gets a lot of crickets too…


    • That is because of our delivery most likely. People don’t know that we are kidding! Life is too short so I try to see the humor whenever and where ever I can!
      Thanks Audrey!


  10. I love this post – fantastic! I once heard a quote, “Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit” but I reckon sarcasm is fantastic wit – you definitely have me thinking!!!


  11. I made some flippant, yet funny remark whilst waiting to pay for groceries recently and the dude behind me said “well that wasn’t funny.”
    My response: “Aaaaand another country heard from.”
    After that, you’d think I was George Carlin redux.


    • Just think of how late night comedians use sarcasm for their bread and butter and yet there are always a couple that fall flat…
      That’s so great that you had a retort ready for the guy behind you!! Hahaha!
      Thanks Jules!


  12. Terrific post, Susie, and I’m totally borrowing some of those sarcastic one-liners. One of my strategies for small talk since I’m so shy: faking a foreign accent. I do it on planes all the time and it’s always fun as hell.


  13. Sarcasm is my middle name. I’ve had my share of ‘crickets. My daughters keep telling me no one knows I’m kidding… Oh well. Love your stories! Especially the last one,


  14. hahahaa, over here it’s more or less the same thing, only that instead of crickets it’s coquí frogs singing at night, what you usually hear when it’s quiet. I do talk to random people everywhere and I have gotten all sorts of responses, from being ignored to even making new friends. Also, I tend to be even more talkative when I’m traveling. I don’t mind striking up a conversation with a perfect stranger.


    • My accent was so bad when I first moved out here, people thought I was from Canada. No offense Canadian friends! It was pre-“Fargo” otherwise they would thought I was from there. “Whatcha got in the chipper there, eh?”
      I am a huge fan of puns too!
      Thanks David! Glad you could relate!


  15. This post explains a lot in my life. My Mother was from Wisconsin and would always make comments to misc. people and they would laugh or give her “that” look. She is gone now but I have acquired the habit. I have learned to enjoy that look and the comments I’ve received. I also am a firm believer in sarcasm. Lightens up the world.


    • I am glad that you could relate. I have lived out here for almost 25 years and can really see the difference when I go back to Wisconsin. It makes me think of all the sarcastic comments I’ve made where the people thought I was serious! Too funny!
      Thanks for stopping by to read!


  16. I love sarcasm. We use it often in our house. My son tries to use it and isn’t ready for it. Even though I use and have come to expect it I’ll admit to not always recognizing it when it is spoken. Der…blonde? LOL


  17. Reblogged this on mccrabass and commented:
    I love this post. Not because she gets the whole sarcasm thing, but the quotations she includes are classic. Anyone with a sense of humor should memorize a few, if not all of them. It’s always nice to read/hear a fellow wit quash the whole ‘sarcasm is the lowest form of wit’ thought. It takes intelligence and wit to be sarcastic.
    Hope you enjoy this post as much as I did.


  18. Susie,
    Now we are really going to be friends! I am Roger Sterling of sarcasm in my world and you may Joan Rivers. I have lived in both Colorado and California and sarcasm is often lost on them and I have no idea how. Perhaps sarcasm is tougher to develop genetically in places of great beauty. In Texas it was hot as hell and flat as my last attempt at yeast rolls. We had no choice but to quip sarcastically to one another. Your beer line was probably taken seriously by the hikers and they likely began to run up the mountain when they passed you.
    I am going to repost your blog on my twitter and Facebook. This will be a first for me as this is the best post I have read in a long time!


  19. Loving your post – ha! I moved from the Midwest to the West Coast and not many people get my sense of humor – oh well! I had an interaction on Saturday with a service person and basically I think she wished I would shut up and disappear – not really nice. I roll my eyes at my other half and at least he is from the Midwest and we get each other:) Have a Great Day!


  20. Ha! LOVE the beer comment while hiking! I’m sad for you because it sounds like you hear crickets way too often and unnecessarily. Although, I do think humor is regional. Or can be.

    People in Jersey are pretty sharp, but it’s frowned upon to make small talk with strangers, so you’re usually met with a suspicious ‘what do you want?’ response instead of the roaring laughter I, I mean one, deserves.


  21. Hi,
    I loved your sarcasm, I thought they were really good. Where would we be without a bit of laughter in our lives, and a smile from a stranger is the best. You may be right it could be regional, I also think it depends on the person you are talking to as well, if they are really down in the dumps, it would take a lot to get a smile, but on a different day with the same person you may have got a laugh. :D


    • Thanks so much! They just sort of slipped out…

      That is so true, but I would say for me I can be pulled right out of a funk if someone notices me and makes a funny comment. Sometimes it is just what I need, but I am usually one who is quick to smile!


  22. Oh my yes, humor is very regional. Folks in New York for instance usually have no sense of humor. Sorry you New Yorkers, but it’s true.

    I also love to strike up random conversations wherever I go. It’s fun to see how people react. Some people have absolutely no sense of humor at all.

    I once tripped over nothing at all except my big clown feet and skinned my knee. A couple of people asked me if I was okay and I replied, “Yes. In fact that was easier than I thought it was going to be. You should try it.” No one laughed. I was trying to make myself look less like a fool for tripping over my own two feet and instead I increased the fool factor by ten. Instead of just looking clumsy, I looked like a clumsy idiot.

    Sarcasm, just another service I offer at little or no charge. Here’s to sarcasm!!

    Thanks for the famous quotes too. Those make me laugh out loud.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt


    • Thanks for stopping by! I think that sarcasm is perfect for us who tend to make fun or ourselves. I am a tennis player and use sarcasm all the time, especially when I have a bad day!


  23. That Oscar Wilde quote is hilarious! I do think humor varies a lot between regions. In New York and Miami, I found people’s senses of humor to be much more crass than in Minnesota. But laughter is definitely universal. I love humor, but I’m somewhat picky and often laugh in my head. :)


    • My husband and kids have asked me if I laugh all day long! I guess I follow a lot of humorists and are reading them when they are around..Comments crack me up too! If blogging wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t be here!
      You are right about laughter, but sometimes I face a tough crowd!That’s when I want to say, “Come on. Lets work on those smile lines…” Hahaha!


  24. I’m an eye roller, but mostly for comic effect. I deliberately refuse to laugh at my friends’ jokes, because it makes other people laugh even more. I’m like… the straight man. Woman. You know.

    Over here, though, we feed on deadpan (and the tears of comedians), so that may have something to do with it. :)


  25. You’d love it here in Maine, Susie. We invented sarcasm. I will always say lame things just to see if the person will laugh. The other day at my doctor’s office I handed the receptionist my paperwork and said in my patented deadpan voice, “Under occupation, I didn’t know whether to put down ‘Domestic Goddess’ or ‘Glorified Servant'” She laughed.

    By the way, hysterical post. I died laughing at your condom comment!


  26. You came up with some great lines on your own, Susie. Made me laugh out loud. No, I don’t think humor is regional. I think it depends on the family you grow up in. We’re all jokers in my family. I’m kind of shy so I don’t usually strike up conversations with strangers, but sometimes I do. And if I say something sarcastic, I usually get that blank stare, too. My friend told me that when she first met me, I’d say off the wall things and she wasn’t sure if I was being serious or joking.

    I always wanted to be a comedienne, but everyone just laughed. (Unknown)
    I love the saying! Haha! Fun post. Good job, Susie!


    • That is so funny and I bet you are right about how you are brought up. Certainly there are those who seldom crack a smile no matter where they live.

      I wonder if anyone has ever done a study. Can you imagine??? Sounds like something the Federal government would get involved with.. :)

      Thanks Lynn!


  27. I am SO glad someone else thinks like I do! (These little mind wanderings)

    When we moved out to the east coast for a bit I worked as a checker and everyone who came through my line knew I wasn’t from there either because I smiled, or made jokes and laughed with them. Yes – humor is totally regional!

    (LOVED the last one BTW!)


  28. When a girl says anything about being pregnant.
    “I’m glad I’m not pregnant anymore.” Sound of crickets.

    Something I’ve added to really silent responses, is I walk away without explaining myself. It adds to the confusion/awesomeness.


  29. I think humour can definitely be regional. In certain areas of the UK for example a man wielding a black pudding in a kung-fu style can be a literal killer gag. It doesn’t do much for me, but that’s because I find black puddings thoroughly gross (they’re basically blood sausages. No, really). Some people, though, just strongly dislike sarcasm. Which unfortunately makes them ideal targets for it.


  30. Oh this is so funny specially the story and i do feel people really should loosen up a bit..they are so stressed out that they don’t even know there is provision in every face for smiling
    loved the quotes…humour keeps away stress tumour
    A Jack Handy quote for ya
    “Why do people in ship mutinies always ask for “better treatment”? I’d ask for a pinball machine, because with all that rocking back and forth you’d probably be able to get a lot of free games.”
    have a great day Susie :)


  31. This is great Susie, I too enjoy making small talk with folks when I’m out and about. Love to do the jokes, but I’ve heard a few crickets too. Oh yeah, I’ve always been a big Foghorn Leghorn fan. Keep it coming.


  32. Very funny. I usually talk to grocery clerks too, but at other places (post office or bank) people tend to keep to themselves and so do I they’re usually in a crappy mood and in a rush :)

    “100,000 sperm and you were the fastest?” I’ve never heard that one before…it cracked me up!


  33. Well this is a great place to hang out Susie! Great feedback! That’s awesome! I love your line, “I had to get a vaginal ultrasound since my doctor thought I had an ovarian cyst. She put a condom on the device and I said, “Gosh, I’m so glad it has protection. I would hate to get pregnant.” …Sound of crickets…LOLOL! That sounds like something I would say. Crickets! Your doctor must have died! :)


  34. I found your fun post through the reblog from julesagray who is quite a wicked wit herself. As a resident of New York City, I can assure you that this place is mecca for sarcasm devotees. I don’t think I could live in a place packed with sarcasm-averse dunderheads which is why I’m hoping that when I die if there’s a heaven or hell, I’ll go south so I can burn with my own snarky kind.


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  36. A teacher I once had in junior high had the following theory: there’s no such thing as just kidding.

    Sarcasm always contains a kernel of truth.

    She said.


  37. I hate it when they follow up a cutting, sarcastic put down with “just kidding.” For one, that’s like watering down horseradish with mayonnaise. Second, it insults me. I can tell it was just kidding. And if not, I can take it.

    Your blog is great. No kidding.


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  40. LOL! Susie, I LOVE your humor. We who grew up in the Chicagoland area were weaned on sarcasm and deep dish pizza. Your comment to the gyne was my ultimate favorite (though knowing me–somehow a turkey baster would’ve entered in). Whenever I hear crickets I just assume the person is not intelligent enough to understand the nuances…LOL!


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