Cone of Silence

Buck HenryThe Cone of Silence was a recurring comedic idea used in the Get Smart comedy series of my youth. It is ostensibly a device that lowers over two people so that they can have a private conversation. The joke is that it completely doesn’t work: the couple inside cannot hear each other but those outside can. The standard performance (as seen in the video below) involves someone on the outside relaying messages between the pair inside who cannot hear the other. This is silly stuff. And about the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. Even after all these years.

The gag was invented by series co-creator Buck Henry. It is comic genius, but there were many writers who did a lot of stuff with the idea. In one episode, Chief asks Smart what he found out about KAOS headquarters. Smart insists that Chief lower the Cone of Silence. This is something that Chief is always reluctant about doing because it never works. Anyway, he does so. The Chief again asks what Smart learned. “Nothing,” Smart tells him. Good thing that information didn’t get out!

In the end, my favorite take on the Cone of Silence is the simplest as in the following clip:

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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