I am looking for an idiom or phrase that describes, in a humorous or funny way, the act of looking for something that probably isnt't there, or the act of looking for a solution in a place where it is not likely to be found.
A fruitless search (looking for something that isn't or probably isn't there) described humorously is a wild goose chase.
From The Idioms:
- wasting resource working on something that does not exist
- spending time searching for something that is simply impossible to find
- a foolish search for something that cannot be achieved
- a chase for something that's beyond your reach
The convict escaped the police custody on the way to jail. Police is apparently on a wild goose chase after he vanished into woods.
It turns out that my brother took my car keys. I had been on a wild goose chase this whole morning searching them in the entire house.
How about fool's errand? From Cambridge:
fool's errand: an effort that is unlikely to be successful
fool's errand: a task or activity that has no hope of success
The act of looking for something that probably isn't there, or the act of looking for a solution in a place where it is not likely to be found, is a fool's errand. And fool's engaged in tomfoolery are certainly humorous. :-)
- A practical joke in which the victim is sent on a hunt for a fictitious animal called a snipe. When I was in the Cub Scouts, the youngest members were always sent out on a snipe hunt by the counselors on the night of our first big campout.
- By extension, any hunt, search, or quest for something that is fictitious, non-existent, elusive, or illusory. The president has pledged to make universal healthcare a reality, but I think he's really just on a snipe hunt.
snipe hunt. (n.d.) Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. (2015). Retrieved May 6 2020 from https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/snipe+hunt