Until 2005, there was a joke called “The Aristocrats” which was only shared among comedians at private parties and while waiting to go on stage at comedy clubs. Why? Because it was thought too off-color and crude to perform in public. Wikipedia describes the content as follows.
The joke involves a person pitching an act to a talent agent. Typically the first line is, “A man walks into a talent agent’s office.” The man then describes the act. From this point, up to (but not including) the punchline, the teller of the joke is expected to ad-lib the most shocking act they can possibly imagine. This often involves elements of incest, group sex, graphic violence, defecation, coprophilia, necrophilia, bestiality, child sexual abuse, and various other taboo behaviors.
The joke ends with the agent, shocked but often impressed, asking “And what do you call the act?” The punchline of the joke is then given: “‘The Aristocrats'”.
Then in August 2005, Mighty Cheese Productions released an 88 minute documentary during which 75+ comedians share their version of the gag or comment on why they consider it a classic. The film was directed by Penn Jillete and Paul Provenza. It is dedicated to Johnny Carson, who often said it was his favorite joke.
Many consider the ultimate version to be the one delivered by Gilbert Gottfried at the Friar Club’s roast of Hugh Hefner. It lasted nine and a half minutes and pushed the envelope of political incorrectness and tasteless detail.
“The Aristocrats” reminds me of another inside joke told only in the back rooms of Washington, DC and many state capitals. I believe the time has come to share this private humor with a broader audience.
A man and his entourage walk into the offices of a national political consultant to audition a new act.
- The star of the act begins by falsely claiming the newly elected president of the United States is not born in America and therefore is not legally qualified to be chief executive.
- The entourage responds with discredited allegations of rampant voter fraud. To address their concern, they gut the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and adopt new voting procedures which suppress turnout, primarily against already underrepresented demographic groups.
- Specific members of the entourage try and block the president’s healthcare initiative even though it is based on a similar program championed by another member of their elite cadre.
- The entourage next spends four years and $6.8 million investigating the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya in which four Americans died. They seem unconcerned this is more than was spent by the 9/11 Commission investigating the attacks in which 2,977 Americans perished.
- Displeased with the entourage’s inability to de-legitimatize the sitting president, the star announces his own campaign for the oval office.
- He opens his campaign by calling most undocumented immigrants murderers and rapists, contrary to available crime data.
- He calls for a ban on all Muslims entering the country in violation of the Bill of Rights.
- He suggests women who seek abortions should be punished, but quickly recants when the most right-wing, religious members of his entourage question his judgment.
- He states an honored veteran who was held as a prisoner of war should not be considered a hero.
- He accepts an unearned Purple Heart and jokes about how this is much easier than the traditional method of obtaining the medal.
- He criticizes a Gold Star family who suggests he does not understand the contributions and sacrifices Muslim-Americans make.
- After 18 months of charging his opponent with conflicts of interests, the star refuses to disclose information which might present his own questionable financial entanglements. The entourage refuses to press the issue or investigate.
- Claiming his opponent misused her family foundation for personal gain, the star pays penalties for self-dealing by his own foundation.
- While referring to his opponent as “corrupt,” the star refuses to acknowledge any guilt in defrauding “students” at his unsanctioned “university.” He later settles the class action law suit with a $25 million payment to the plaintiffs.
- Despite calling for his opponent’s incarceration for use of a private email server, the star adds General David Petraeus as a potential nominee for secretary of state, despite the General’s resignation as CIA director and misdemeanor conviction for mishandling classified information
- The entourage, which swears it is the guardian of the Constitution, remains silent as their star proposes penalties directed at the press and political activists contrary to protections in the First Amendment.
- In a final act of political cowardice, members of the entourage who called the star unfit for the presidency and a con-man, curry his favor in hopes of appointments to key positions in his administration.
At the end of their performance, the star and entourage take a bow. The consultant, shocked but impressed, says, “That’s AMAZING! And what do you call the act?” In unison the star and his entourage respond, “The Republicans.”
It is the dark humor and despicable nature of “The Aristocrats” which captured audiences who viewed the documentary. Sadly, the same could be said of this sequel. If only it were just a politically incorrect and tasteless joke.
For what it’s worth.