Follow TV Tropes



Go To
A bird playing the drums? You feather believe it! (Ba-dum-tss!)
Artwork by IdiotOfTheEast

"Two drums and a cymbal fall off a cliff... *ba-dum-tssshhh!*"

"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). "Hey, what did one eye say to th-"

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

"Sorry, I just wanted to be funny. Carry on."

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 Stock Jokes 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.

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 joke 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.

You can also get a rimshot on demand here.

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


    open/close all folders 

  • Snap, Crackle and Pop: One is heard at the end of a mid-80s ad as, when the trio promote Rice Krispies on a boy's radio show, they laugh after the following statement:
    Snap: Morning listeners know...
    Pop: Rice Krispies is a hit!

    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."

    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield: In a series of strips from July 1985, Garfield introduces "Mr. Skins" (Odie) as an assistant to his fence act. Naturally, this doesn't go over very well:
    Garfield: I knew a dog who was so ugly, he had to—
    Odie: [TIDDY-BOOM!]
    Garfield: Let's talk timing.
    Garfield: I knew a dog who was so ugly, his fleas wore dog collars!
    Odie: [Tiddy-boom! Tiddy-boom! Tiddy-boom! Tiddy-boom! Tiddy-boom!]
    Garfield: Padding our part, are we?

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Heartbeeps: Catskill is programmed to be a "club comedian robot" with a Lounge Lizard persona, for some reason, and comes with a pre-installed module to deliver an automatic rimshot after each one-liner.
  • Sharkenstein: One can be heard from this conversation.
    Bonnie Boom Boom: I thought you said this was a private shooting. I can't have my fans finding me.
    Cameraman: Yeah, all five of them managed to track you to this location.
  • That Thing You Do!: The audience at Villapiano's claps politely as the band finishes "All My Only Dreams".
    Lenny: Table 19, your pizza is ready.
    Guy: [plays a rim shot]
  • Tricky People: One of the kids in the band makes one after Edna is complimented for her performance in the "Tricky People" number, to which Yello Dyno responds "What am I? Chopped liver?"
  • Turkey Hollow: When Annie sees the monsters eating rocks, she says she doesn't want to know what comes out of the other end. The movie cuts to the narrator doing a rimshot.
  • Young Frankenstein: Igor resorts to Saying Sound Effects Out Loud at his own joke. “Call it… a hunch! Ba-dump-tssh!”

    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.
  • In an episode of How I Met Your Mother, Barney shows up at Ted's apartment door with a drum and tiny cymbal. By sheer coincidence, he arrives just as someone tells a joke and does the appropriate Rimshot. Then he explains he actually "brought this for something else", which is a Drum Roll for some exciting news he wants to deliver to everybody.
  • Lois & Clark: Accompanies each of Reverend Bob's horrific jokes in season 4.

  • The Jack Benny Program: Whenever two characters had a corny rhyming exchange, a drum-and-cowbell roll inevitably followed as the actual punchline.

    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 
  • 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!
    [rimshot; all three of them laugh]
  • 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"

    Web Videos 
  • Blixemi: Happens in the "What Your Favorite Warrior Cat Says About You" video, as well as it's sequel, to emphasize puns made about a character or their situation. For example, a pun about Longtail fans liking the "longer tales" in life is backed up with the cymbal-hit.
  • CS188: Appears in "Mario and Luigi's Strip Club Adventure", where Luigi slips and falls in the bathroom of the aforementioned strip club and Billy Mays says, "Uh oh, looks like urine trouble!".
  • 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.
  • Used several times in The Nostalgia Critic's episode on Les Misérables (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.
  • 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.
  • Sky Does Minecraft: This is added in by their editors anytime they or any of their friends make a bad pun.
    Sky: Jess, I have to be honest. I bee-lieve you can make more efforts.
    Jin: And there goes the rest of our audience!
    Sky: There they go! Bye guys!
    Jess: Bye guys! Bee sure to tune in next time!
    Jin: Bee su— Oh my god, I'm done!
  • When one of the hosts or the live audience of What the Fuck Is Wrong with You? makes a bad joke, Tara will simulate this by slapping her desk and clapping.
  • 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.
  • 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!
    Joey: Isn't that what we've been doing for the past four years?

    Western Animation 
  • Archer: The word is sometimes said during a joke/innuendo instead of imitating the sound.
    • Actually used in Dreamland by a drummer in place of the classic "Phrasing". Often followed by an annoyed Ray telling the drummer to stop.
  • Family Guy: Done twice: Once in "Meg Stinks!", where the walls of the Griffin house collapsed and Peter is forced to crawl over to his drum kit to play a rimshot for his own joke. Done again in "Yug Ylimaf", where Stewie tells a joke and the rimshot is played in reverse (since time itself was flowing backwards throughout the episode).
  • 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!
  • The Phineas and Ferb episode Candace Disconnected has the boys build a phone for Candace. It has an app that plays the sound every time Candace makes a joke or a pun.
  • 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.
  • Steven Universe: In "Future Boy Zoltron", Mr. Smiley goes "ba-dum-bum-CHING!" after telling a joke.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Ba Dum Tish


Immunity Milk

Nickel cracks a joke about Immunity Milk by asking if it's immunity from MePhone4's lactose intolerance and everybody surprisingly finds it funny, the other contestants laugh so hard at the joke that it makes him uncomfortable.

How well does it match the trope?

4.8 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / ActuallyPrettyFunny

Media sources: