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Effectively the opposite of Two Scenes, One Dialogue. Two characters — or more, if the writer is feeling particularly ambitious — talk to each other without actually listening, resulting in a conversation that sounds something like this:
John: Why did she break up with me?
There are generally three ways to finish such a "conversation":
- One character will have a Delayed Reaction to what was said by the other, resulting in a Eureka Moment
- The conversations comically mesh together and turn into a proper discussion
- One or more of the characters will have an epiphany and thank their colleague even though their conversations never actually come together.
Anime and Manga
- Variation in Excel Saga: Misaki Matsuya complains to Dr. Kabapu about the legitimacy of their civil service training, while Watanabe is complaining to himself about the same. Things get a little weird when they both simultaneously mention the apparent cheapness of their prototype laser guns.
- In one of the Slayers OVAs, Naga gets into an extended argument with the main villain. He has kidnapped Lina for use in a super-chimera and thinks Naga is there to rescue her, Naga is convinced that the villain and Lina are going behind her back just to cheat her out of some profit. The "conversation" goes absolutely nowhere, lampshaded by one of the spectators wondering to another "You get the feeling they're not actually listening to each other?"
- In the manga High School Debut Haruna doesn't realize that they area having two different conversation and Asoka hangs a lampshade on this saying, "Even though we are speaking of different things unexpectedly, we get along quite well."
- In Doug Tennapel's Gear, Waffle the cat appears to have a conversation with Chee the mantis in spite of their language barrier. Waffle then ends the "conversation" by announcing, "By the way, I haven't understood a thing you've said," and walking away.
- Neil Gaiman does this all the time in The Sandman, pointing out its use in his commentary for the 'A Midsummer's Night Dream' story, and claims it's practically one of his signature techniques.
- The narrator of Brian Aldiss's story "Appearance of Life" finds two holographic messages which turn out to be from a husband and wife. When he turns them on they appear to be conversing with each other, but it soon becomes clear that the wife's message is an expression of her undying love for her husband, while the husband's is a confession of his infidelity.
- Chapter 4 of Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys presents a scenario in which a woman named Elaine says to a guy named Roger: "Do you realize that, as of tonight, we've been seeing each other for exactly six months?" From that point, two internal monologues diverge: Elaine thinks about her relationship with Roger and their feelings toward each other, while Roger's thoughts concern car repairs.
- Terry Pratchett's Jingo lampshades this by having Vetinari going specifically to talk to Leonard da Quirm to do this.
- He uses it a lot; the three people (well, two people and a talking dog) Drowning Their Sorrows in Moving Pictures also do it, and some of Magrat and Verence's awkward conversations come close as well.
- The cultists' meetings in Guards Guards use this every single time they talk, usually of the "random 3rd person keeps ranting while everyone else moves on" variety.
- In G. K. Chesterton's The Return of Don Quixote, two characters talk about the play. One is discussing his chances to show off in it; the other is discussing its philosophical underpinnings. Neither of them figures out that they are talking past each other.
Live Action Television
- Seems to be a favourite of David Simon; it happened frequently on Homicide: Life On the Street and The Wire.
- In one example from Arrested Development, three characters all monologue about issues regarding their manliness, each continuing the next part of his own monologue from the last phrase of the previous person's monologue, all the while never paying attention to each other. Amazingly, they all reach the same solution to their manly dilemma: going to the mall.
- This sort of thing tended to happen rather frequently in this show, although I think the above example is the most extreme...
- In the first season finale, GOB has a scene with Kitty in which he does this; she's trying to convince him to join her to take over the Bluth company, but he's trying to figure out what he can order that's OK for the Atkins Diet. In the commentary, the entire cast was silent for this entire exchange (if you can call it that) and spent a couple of minutes singing the praises of Will Arnett for his performance in the scene, and it was impressive; not a single one of his lines worked off of anything she was saying. "What about macaroni — let me finish — salad? GOB is kind of dumb.
- Happens several times in Seinfeld, done three-way at least once.
- Lennier and Vir meet on a weekly basis to do this on Babylon 5. Sheridan also likes doing this, mostly with Delenn and/or Ivanova, when he's coming up with one of his "clever ideas" — generally Type 3 conclusions, with a bit of Type 1 occasionally thrown in for laughs.
- This is the entire basis of Darin's conversations with his buddy at the bar he goes to on Bewitched.
- Happens often on Just Shoot Me between Nina and some other character (usually Maya). Self-absorbed Nina often doesn't realize there is someone else talking next to her.
- Occurs in S7 Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Spike, being crazy, utters a lot of apparent non sequiturs, and the Scoobies ignore them. The twist is that Willow is invisibly present (and the others, except Spike, are invisible to her), and all of Spike's responses make some kind of sense.
- The Two Ronnies has a sketch in which two men making separate phone calls appear to be having a surreally humorous conversation. Specifically, Gerald (Ronnie Barker) is asking his friend Simon about his date last night, while Walter (Ronnie Corbett) is checking a shopping list with his wife. The scene is one Double Entendre after another until we find out that Simon's date works at the supermarket they're both talking at, and is having an affair with Walter.
- Grey's Anatomy has this in one episode, with Derek and Meredith. What Derek was talking about I can't remember, but Meredith was talking about how she didn't understand how two people (Burke and Yang) could be in a relationship and not talk to each other.
- Popular in the middle seasons of Last of the Summer Wine, although that was often One Scene Three Monologues.
- Every single time Wilson tries to make the eponymous House behave ethically, this is the result.
- Done in Coupling, Season 1 Episode 5. Jeff is trying to chat up a woman who speaks nothing but Hebrew; Jeff knows this (an earlier scene has him stumbling hilariously through flirting with her), but true to fashion tries to make it happen anyway. The scene plays out and then rewinds with the cue, "But now, imagine you're an Israeli" and translates her lines...while muddling up Jeff's (the actor combined several other languages to make up his gibberish).
- A Bit of Fry and Laurie has a sketch parodying religious television. It's pretty well summed up by this exchange:
Arnold: Glen is having a little difficulty concentrating on our Bible study readings because he has something of an obsession with the size of my girlfriend's breasts.
- Subverted in Ghost Dog the Way of Samurai, where the titular character and his best friend have a conversation with each other; however, since neither speaks the other's language, they don't realize they're both saying the same thing.
- A literal example from Love and Death. Boris has been challenged to a duel, and asks Sonya to marry him if he manages to survive. They then go into alternating inner monologues, with Sonya considering the various reasons why or why not to say yes, and Boris, certain of his imminent death, becoming rather fixated on the imagery of wheat.
- Sometimes Calvin and Hobbes do this: memorable is the sledding episode when Calvin wants to discuss whether humanity is good, bad, or crazy, and Hobbes is more interested in "Watch out for those rocks!" Calvin ends up crashing: while the two are face-down in the snow, he says "You know, it's not very polite to keep changing the subject.", prompting Hobbes to say "I vote crazy".
- An ongoing theme in Get Fuzzy-usually between Bucky and Satchel. Case in point.
- There was a Beetle Bailey comic where the enlisted men's lounge had two TVs on, one showing a romance and the other a football game. By chance, the football announcers appeared to be commenting on the action in the romance.
- The scene in Henry VI, Part 1 where Suffolk first meets Margaret is of this form. For the first half of the scene, Suffolk soliloquizes while Margaret tries to talk to him; for the second half, their roles are reversed.
- Musicals do this a lot. One particular example comes from Les Misérables in which Javert and Jean Valjean talk past each other without really listening.
- Mushnik and Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors obsess about their respective paramounts (money and Audrey, respectively). As is typical, it's not Seymour who takes the initiative for the ensuing musical number.
- Titanic had "The Proposal/The Night Was Alive", though one hopes Bride was listening enough to Barrett's dictation to be able to send the telegraph.
- "The Blame" weaves in and out of this with three people.
- "I'm All Alone" from Spamalot.
- A tragic example in Brian Friel's Translations: MÃ¡ire and Lieutenant Yolland talk past each other because they don't speak each other's languages (though through the magic of Translation Convention, the audience understands them both).
- Cyrano De Bergerac: This happens in a very subtle way with Cyrano and Roxane at act II scene VI: Cyrano invokes Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone and tells Roxane the stock phrase I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me. Roxane talks about Cyrano calling him brother and friend. Cyrano and Roxane are so enthralled by their own emotions to really put attention to the other.
- The play The Real Inspector Hound has a scene in which one theatre critic rants about only being hired to fill in for another, while his companion professes his love for the leading actress in the play they are reviewing.
- Tales of Symphonia has a bonus skit in which two of the party members do this:
Raine: Hmm...a civilization that sunk into the sea... no, that lived under the sea....
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations features a person who claims to have seen a nun flying over a burning bridge. While the lawyers exclaim how crazy the witness is, the judge focuses on the witness's sketch of the scene, culminating in:
Attorneys: ARE!... YOU!...
- Kotomi and Tomoya in Clannad have one of these at their first meeting. It somehow goes from Tomoya asking why she's cutting paper out of library books to her asking him if he wants to eat the paper. And then if he wants to eat clay, but adds that it would give her indigestion. This is normal for her.
- Xkcd has this example with Houdini and spaces and... Never Mind.
- From Spacetrawler, this scene: Pierrot is pissed about getting locked in a duct and won't talk about anything else, while Emily calmly lists off the food she brought for him. Then she ends the conversation by giving Pierrot a "Shut Up" Kiss.
- In the Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy episode "Pop Goes the Ed", both Ed and Edd try to talk with Sarah and Jimmy about two different topics; Ed talks about a monster movie, while Edd talks about brain surgery footage he saw. The two conversations blend together in odd ways:
Edd: The operation I saw involved remarkable new brain extraction techniques...
- Spoofed in The Simpsons episode "Lisa Vs. Malibu Stacy", as Grandpa Simpson gets confused by the conflicting dialogues:
Lisa: Well I'm not going to accomplish anything just sitting here...
- The second season finale of Justice League Unlimited had one between Terry McGinnis and Amanda Waller. Terry is annoyed that he's just found out he's the biological son of the original Batman and considers this to be Bruce messing with his life, while Amanda is more concerned that he's just broken her antique teacup. Interestingly, Amanda's monologue segues rather nicely into Terry's flashback at the end of the scene.
Waller: Oh, that's okay. I've only had that cup for seventy years. My mother passed it on to me.
- A sketch by German humorist Loriot, when they have to kill some time before the real interview can start, because of technical difficulties.
Interviewer: "My wife is a capricorn."