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Musicians Defend Right to Humor and Flatted Fifths, Threaten Strike

January 18, 2019

Q: What do rock drummers use for birth control. A: Their personality.

Robert Kahn

By Robert Kahn

Deputy editor emeritus, Courthouse News

Q: What do rock drummers use for birth control?

A: Their personality.

If there’s one thing the United States needs more of today, it’s humor. Anyone who does not understand this been living in a cocoon for three years. And if you have done that … what’s it like? Can I come in? Hey, isn’t this my leather jacket that was stolen that night when …

Due to this dearth, I asked musicians all over this great nation of theirs to send me a favorite musician joke. Here they are, and their sources of origin.

Q: How do you make a violin sound like a viola?

A: Sit in the back and don’t play.


Q: How can you tell if the stage is level?

A: The drummer is drooling out of both sides of his mouth.


Q: What does a bassoonist say at his first gig?

A: Hello, Domino’s, may I help you?


Q: What’s the worst thing to hear a drummer say?

A: Hey, guys, listen to this song I wrote.

(San Diego)

Q: What’s the difference between a piccolo and a lawnmower?

A: No one minds if you borrow their piccolo.

(Kalispell, Montana)

Q: How do you know the singer is at your door?

A: You don’t. He can’t find the key and doesn’t know when to come in.

(Homeless in New York)

Q: Define perfect pitch.

A: That’s when you throw a banjo into a garbage can and it hits an accordion.

(Willie Nelson)

Here are two longer ones.

A clarinet player calls up his Symphony Orchestra and asks to speak to the conductor.

The operator says: “I’m sorry, sir, the conductor died last night.”

So they hang up and the clarinetist calls back and asks to speak to the conductor.

And the operator says: “I’m sorry, sir, the conductor is dead.”

So they hang up and the clarinetist calls back and asks to speak to the conductor.

And the operator says: “Sir, I’ve told you two times that the conductor is dead. Why do you keep calling?”

And the clarinetist says: “I just like to hear you say it.”


A tenor sax man arrives at the Pearly Gates and St. Peter glances at him askance.

“We don’t get many tenor sax men in here,” St. Peter tells the horn player.

“I know, Pete,” the sax man says, “but listen to these licks I worked out.”

He plays a beautiful cadenza culled from Bird, Pres, Coleman Hawkins and Trane: goes on for twenty minutes, while folks from all sorts of planets back up behind him on clouds, waiting to get into Heaven.

But this tenor man can really blow, and St. Pete digs him.

So. The solo ends.

Stan Getz walks up to St. Peter and asks: “What about it, Pete?”

And St. Peter replies: “Sorry, man. You got to go heat up that other place. You’ll like it better down there. You can come up once a week and play your horn at your concerts and all, so long as you come in by the back door, because frankly, Stan, we don’t like your type up here … St. Peter covers the mouthpiece of his cell, leans over and whispers into Stan Getz’s ear: ‘You ain’t wired, is you, man? What? Yeah, I know. Stan? You know where I can get some good shit, man?’

I know, I know: What’s a joke page doing here, and offense to religion, where serious political commentary should be?

Hey, I ain’t the one who made politics and religion a joke.

(For the musically inclined, here is a wonderful Carl Perkins jam from 1985.)

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