"If you're not smart enough to play a real instrument, they give you two sticks, put you in the back, and call you a drummer."
In the eyes of many people, a percussionist isn't a real musician. After all, how many brain cells can it really take to bang on stuff with sticks? For a single
item, probably not many. As a result, it's common for a drummer to be portrayed as, well, stupid. And yet...
Playing percussion adequately often involves managing many more actions and ideas at once than most other instruments. Real drummers often refer to themselves as "percussionists
" in an attempt to distance themselves from this trope as well as because many drummers also play general percussion. Even for those who only
play drums, to do so at any professional level usually requires either the ability to read musical notation or the talent to create beats/play by ear, and they are the backbone of the band's sound in many
genres - so if they are so stupid their musicianship is awful and/or they can't keep rhythm, the entire band
will usually sound awful. So it's not Truth in Television
for the most part. On the other hand, drum kits are expensive
relative to guitars and amps, and require much more practice space; if your drummer is
an idiot, it's not all that easy to replace him.
Compare All Drummers Are Animals
, as there can be some overlap, and Alcohol-Induced Idiocy
because of the (not-unfounded) stereotype of drummers often being the heaviest drinkers in a band. Contrast Nobody Loves the Bassist
Anime and Manga
- K-On! has Ritsu Tainaka. As the Light Music Club's drummer, she isn't particularly stupid, just lazy and forgetful. Although the reason she plays the drums is because she thinks playing the guitar or keyboard is too complicated and would frustrate her.
- Vertigo Pop: London is about an aging rock star named Rocky looking to regain his lost youth. In a flashback set in India, a guru offers him some hash to smoke and Rocky's drummer gets envious:
Daz: Hey, I want some of this present. It sounds crazy.
Rocky: Sorry, Daz. Not for you.
Daz: And why not?
Rocky: Because... Because you're a drummer. And drummers... they're not meant to have life-changing transcendental experiences.
- Pierce, from Zits. Unworldly, soft-hearted when it comes to living creatures, and lacking impulse control-yes. He's definitely not stupid, though,and the trope rarely if ever is mentioned in the strip.
- Averted in Zero History by William Gibson: Heidi Hyde is a former drummer, but it doesn't seem to have caused any lasting mental handicap.
- Lias "Cliff" Bluestone from Soul Music is a rather simple-minded troll who's frequently described as "one of nature's drummers".
- Scum of Ande Supporting Bandes is apparently too stupid to be a drummer. "What if I miss?"
- The Loading Screen for Guitar Hero 3 has random quotes, one of which is, "I'm the drummer, I don't get paid to understand any of this!"
- Another reads, "Don't let your drummer handle the money."
Jokes and Anecdotes
- Kevin from Rhapsodies is essentially a amalgamation of every drummer joke you ever heard. Though he's more oblivious than stupid.
- "What does it mean when the drummer's drooling out of both sides of his mouth?" "The stage is level."
- "What's got three legs and a twat at the top?" "A drum stool."
- "How do you turn a guitarist into a bassist?" "Knock his head on something, but not too hard, so he doesn't turn into a drummer."
- "How many drummers does it take to change a light bulb?" "Just one, but he has to figure out not to hit it with a stick first."
- "How can you tell if there's a drummer at your door?" "The knocking speeds up and he comes in at the wrong time."
- "Did you hear about the guitarist who locked his keys in his car?" "It took him an hour to get the drummer out."
- "How do you confuse a drummer?" "Put sheet music in front of him."
- "What do you call a drummer who's broken up with his girlfriend?" "Homeless."
- "What do you call a guy who likes to hang out with musicians?" "A drummer."
- "Why can't drummers tell jokes timing".
- Q: What's the difference between a drummer and a drum machine?
A: With a drum machine you only have to punch the information in once.
Alternate Answer: About 40 seconds by the end of the song.
- And in revenge: "How late does [band] play?" "About half a beat behind the drummer..."
- "What's the difference between a drummer and a large pizza?" "A large pizza can feed a family of four."
- "Mommy, when I grow up I want to be a drummer!" "Now dear, you can't do both."
- Two musicians and a drummer walk into a bar...
"And if you're not smart enough to play drums, they take away one of your sticks, put you in the front, and call you the conductor."