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Rimshot

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"Two drums and a cymbal fall off a cliff... *ba-dum-tssshhh!*"
— Bad joke
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"So, why are colds bad criminals? Because they’re easy to catch." (Drum fill) "And what happens when you witness a ship wreck? You let it sink in." (Drum fill) "And why should you never eat a clock? Because it’s too time consuming." (Drum fill) "Hey, I want a job cleaning mirrors. It’s something I can really see myself doing!" (Drum fill).

That's it! Enough with the Self-Demonstrating Article! Stop that nonsense already!

Bob tried to make a joke, but it didn't turn out as good as he hoped. Maybe he shoehorned a reference in too awkwardly (shoe goes on, shoe goes off), or he has bad comedic... timing, or he just wasn't able to tell what was supposed to be a snappy joke in a snappy manner, so the wording he used ends up taking up way too much space for something that really wasn't worthwhile to anyone who was reading it in the first place. Or maybe he relied on a Stock Shtick that everyone's heard a million times. Not to fear! The drummer is here to punctuate the joke with a little percussion tag, letting the audience know that was indeed the Punch Line and they should laugh or at least give the Collective Groan.

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Rimshots are associated with the Borscht Belt style of old-school comedy. It's a bit of an Undead Horse Trope: The rimshot is so kitschy that it's practically a Stock Shtick in its own right, but that in turn makes it corny enough that it can get a decent laugh if timed correctly, especially if it's used sarcastically to highlight a Lame Pun Reaction. It can even serve to salvage a joke that otherwise flopped.

There might also be some byplay between the comedian and the drummer; for instance, the comic might scold the drummer for missing his cue and the drummer would reply that the joke was so bad he refused to dignify it. Or the comic might act startled when the drummer played and have a chance to mug a comical Take.

For those who are not drummers, the "ba-dum-tssshhh" you think of when someone says rimshot is not a rimshot in percussion technique terms. A real rimshot is when you hit the edge of the drum and the head at the same time. The "ba-dum-tssshhh" is called a "sting". "Rimshot" somehow became show business slang and the rest is history.

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You can also get a rimshot on demand here.

Compare Fanfare, Drum Roll, Please, Dramatic Timpani, Laugh Track. Subtrope of Sting.

Examples

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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In Watchmen, one of Rorschach's internal monologues recalls an old joke about a Sad Clown, followed with the observation, "Good joke. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drum. Curtain."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Friends
    • In "The One With Barry and Mindy's Wedding", when it's revealed that Barry told everyone Rachel ran away from their wedding because she was insane with syphilis, Ross gets up on stage and explains it's not true. He gets a rimshot and glares at the drummer. He then says that Rachel not marrying Barry "worked out pretty well for me", and after a pause glances at the drummer, who shrugs. Rachel starts to run out of the room but after a joke from Barry she instead gets up on stage and says she wants to "make it through at least one of your weddings". This time the drummer comes through with the rimshot which gets the crowd to laugh and boosts Rachel's confidence.
    • In "The One Where Phoebe Runs", Joey asks Chandler and Ross for advice on "repelling women". Ross says that one thing Chandler did in college was follow up everything he said by going "ba-dum-dum, tshh!"
      Chandler: Yeah, Monica doesn't like that either. Maybe I should stop.

    Video Games 
  • Leisure Suit Larry 1: In the Land of the Lounge Lizards: One of the rooms in the Casino is a theater stage. Sometimes it's empty, sometimes it has some dancers, and sometimes there is a stand-up comedian making jokes. With a drummer.
  • Undertale: Two of the jokes told by Sans when The Human first meet him are punctuated this way.

    Web Animation 
  • How It Should Have Ended: Loki has escaped from the Time Variance Authority and told everyone in the Villain Pub about the problem with variants. Thanos shows up and says "Finding out how other variants of you succeeded where you failed could totally make someone... snap"
  • Helluva Boss:
    Blitzo: Hold on! You better move that pussy wagon right now, or I'm gonna—!
    Vortex: [growls threateningly right behind Blitzo] You'll what?
    Blitzo: Or I'll, uh... I... I-I'll call H.R!
    [beat]
    [rimshot; all three of them laugh]

    Web Video 
  • In the Antarctica episode of Map Men, Mark mentions that claimed Antarctic territories can no longer be changed or added without breaking the Antarctic Treaty, meaning that the map of the region is effectively frozen. Cue Jay on the drum set doing the rimshot.
  • YouTuber Simon Whistler, who has a huge collection of channels on various historical and trivia topics, will often act out a huge, fake rimshot when he throws in a joke or a pun.
  • Tom Scott tested the "two drums and a cymbal fall off a cliff" variant of this trope by actually throwing two drums and a cymbal off of a cliff, while his friend Matt told a joke down below. It worked.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series: Apparently spoofing the aforementioned Old Shame wasn't enough; the current episodes get plenty of flak as well.
    Yugi: It looks like we're just going to have to keep repeating the same jokes that everyone got sick of ages ago until he sets us free!
    (ba-dum-tiss!)
  • Used several times in The Nostalgia Critic's episode on Les Miserables (2012). First, Paw Dugan tries to invoke the "ba-dum-tiss" sound effect after making a joke about the film's pacing, only for nothing to come out. The Critic tells him that it only works if he does it, which he immediately demonstrates. Later, Paw tries it again after the Critic states "insert an out-of-the-closet joke here" after literally coming out of the closet which they were using to hide from Brentalfloss. This time, the sound does appear.

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama: Played with. Dr. Zoidberg starts his speech with a "Ladies and Germs" introduction, which is followed by a drum fill. He protests that it wasn't a joke, as there is a germ among the audience. Then he says "Now I'm not saying Professor Farnsworth is old, but if you consider his age, he's likely to die soon." Then he protests that that was a joke, and the drummer failed to make the drum fill!
  • Steven Universe: In "Future Boy Zoltron", Mr. Smiley goes "ba-dum-bum-CHING!" after telling a joke.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "Pre-Hibernation Week", where Sandy is on an adrenaline kick just before she starts winter hibernation, she tells SpongeBob they're going "Fly Fishing" with an actual airplane behind her. The scene them cuts to a live action drummer doing the rimshot.
    • In "Rock-a-Bye Bivalve", SpongeBob lets his newfound stray clam sleep in his pants, saying "It's the best seat in the house!" Cutaway to Gary playing a rimshot on a drum.
    • In "Mustard O' Mine", SpongeBob, Squidward, and Patrick pass some various miners when they're in the mine. This includes coal miners, sulfur miners, and unaccompanied minors. One of the "minors" has a drum set, which he plays a rimshot on.

 
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Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Ba Dum Tish

Top

Pinkie Pie Rimshot

Being a comedian, Pinkie Pie would naturally do the ol' snare drum gag.

How well does it match the trope?

4 (9 votes)

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Main / Rimshot

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