Nothing But the Sound of Crickets

Striking up a conversation with random people is something I love to do especially when running errands. It makes a boring trip to the store 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, it renders them dumbfounded. While staring at the salesperson, bagger or another shopper with a silly smile on my face, I wait for a reaction. Instead I listen to the sound of crickets.

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

Foghorn_Leghorn

 

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Sarcasm is a subcategory of humor and 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.

Then, I moved from Wisconsin to Colorado. After tossing a one-liner into the conversation, my new friends responded with blank dull stares. I wondered if 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. They tried hard to unwind and listened to the crackling and snapping of dry timber in the flames until interrupted by one of the new guys from the Midwestern Territories.

“Hey look! It’s Billy the Kid!….” He pointed to the head of the gang walking toward the bushes.

“Just (air quotes) ‘Kid’ing!’ Get it? Hahaha!”

The gunman almost had a heart attack. He swung around to look behind him. Then realized he was the butt of the joke, so he shot the silly cowboy, putting an end to what would have been, 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 taverns which could be found on every corner. Instead of fighting, they polkaed and mastered the art of joke-telling.

The following famous people would have easily fit with Wisconsinites. I found a few of their gems on SarcasticQuotes.com.

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.”

Unknown: 

100,000 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. “I can’t believe I left my bags in the car again. I should keep 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 an eye-roll or 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?

 

132 thoughts on “Nothing But the Sound of Crickets

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    1. I have lived out here for a long time and it hasn’t stopped me from cracking lame jokes. At least they don’t shoot people for it anymore! Hahaha!
      Thanks Sophie!

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  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.

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    1. 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!

      Like

    2. 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.

      Like

  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 : )

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  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.

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    1. 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!

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      1. 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.

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      2. 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.

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    1. Thanks so much Gabriel!

      The lady I was playing tennis against who I have known for a couple of years responded, “I don’t ever know what she is talking about.”

      Like

  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.

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    1. 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- 🙂

      Like

  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!

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  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.

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  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

    Like

  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: http://www.paywindow7.wordpress.com
    Bob Cloud

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    1. Bob, that was fabulous! I actually know people like that. They are family or friends thank goodness. It’s those quiet ones you have to look out for, they are often the most fun people to be around.

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  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…

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    1. 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!

      Like

  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!!!

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    1. Thanks so much JM!
      I guess that when you grow up with horrible weather, but in a part of the country that is soooper social, you learn that putting a smile on your face is a very pleasant way to go through life!

      Like

  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.

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    1. 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!

      Like

  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.

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  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,

    Like

  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.

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    1. 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!

      Like

  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.

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    1. 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!

      Like

  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

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  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.

    Like

  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!

    Like

    1. Wow! Thanks so much!!
      It took me a long time to figure out why people don’t always “get” me, but that won’t stop me from enjoying my own stupid jokes. 🙂
      Those hikers were ready to sprint!!! It was hilarious!

      Like

  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!

    Like

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