The Aristocrats is a joke that comedians love telling to shock other comedians, so it is extremely graphic and not for the easily offended. I first heard about The Aristocrats from the documentary of the same name, in which the producers went around to different comedians and asked them to tell their version of the joke. Here’s a link to the Gilbert Gottfried version from the film which I consider one of the milder tellings, although that could just be because afterwards I watched the Bob Saget version which is extreme to say the least 

I was there when he told that most dreadful story. We were at St Martha’s Bakehouse sitting on a long table. Seven of us, Sean, Sarah, Jenna, Victor, Max, myself and Frances. If you have not met Frances, he is quite the character. Most of the time he will sit quietly, not saying much, but every now and then something will click and he will orate on some subject or another with an almost manic zeal. Today was one of those days.

I was having a polite conversation with Victor about glove shopping (winter was coming on) when Frances reached across the table and grabbed my shoulder. Leaning forward, his head nearly touching mine, he said excitedly, “Johan I have heard the most incredible thing.” I could tell by the look in his eyes that the gloves would have to wait.

“What’s that Frances?” I asked.

“Xavier told me about a new act opening at the Fringe Theatre.” There was a pause, and then, “You will not believe the content of this play.” He punctuated this statement by slamming his flagon on the table, spilling beer over his hand. Ignoring it, he put his arms around Sarah and Jenna, who were sitting on either side of him, and shouted, “Friends, I must tell you this story.”

By now we were all staring at Frances, knowing that we had no choice but to listen to his story. Some others seated at the tables around us had turned to listen too, perhaps because of Frances’ reputation in the neighbourhood (he was quite well known) or perhaps because their intuition was telling them that whatever it was that this exuberant young man was going to say was worth listening to.

“Xavier was sitting in his office in the theatre last week when a family walk in. It’s a mother, father, their son and daughter, and a little baby. The father says to the Xavier, ‘Sir, our family has an amazing act. We know if you would let us perform it for you you would want to sign us.’ And Xavier says, ‘Sorry, we don’t sign family acts. They’re too cutesy.’ But then the mother says, ‘Please, sir, if you just give us two minutes, we know you’ll like our act.’ Xavier agrees.”

Frances began to describe the act, which started off with the entire family removing their clothes. It was at this point that the tale went from intriguing to grotesque. As Francis got into the telling, he became more expressive and excited. His voice became louder and louder.

Soon the entire eatery was listening to Frances as he paced around our table discussing an orgy of the most foul acts one could imagine. His tone was that of an excited sports fan recounting a recent match, nonchalantly describing deeds that would be illegal in the most lawless, poverty stricken, bordello filled parts of the world.

Suddenly Amir, who manages the Bakehouse, ran over to Frances and started begging him to stop, pulling at his coat and almost whimpering, repeating, “Please Mr Frances, no more Mr Frances.”

“Nonsense,” yelled Frances, grabbing Amir under his arm, dragging him along as he walked between the tables telling his story and gesticulating with his free arm.

One woman was watching Frances over her shoulder with a look of absolute horror. Suddenly Frances turned to her and spun her chair around. Grabbing her shoulders he exclaimed, “Madam you would not believe what happened next!” The poor woman fainted mid sentence as wide eyed Frances’ spittle hit her in the face.

“Please no more,” whimpered an old man.

Another man, looking to be in his late fifties, dashed out the door exclaiming, “I can’t get his voice out of my head.” We heard a bang and the sound of car horns. People muttered concern for the fellow.

Frances laughed and said, “What an ebullient fellow. So then the father grabbed the baby and–” and did such an act that can not be repeated.

I looked around and could see no one in the restaurant eating. Many people had pushed their plates to the side. Amir was sitting, head in his hands, tears running down his face, muttering, “I’m ruined,” over and over again. In fact the only person who looked unaffected was Sarah, who as, the cousin of my good friend and business partner J Ellis, is someone I have known for a long time. She is normally a sensitive sort so I was surprised to see her casually nibbling on some breadsticks.

I looked at her and she shrugged. “Frances came over last night and told me the story in its entirety. Twice. I don’t think anything will shock me until the day I die.”

And at the end he said with great pride, once every permutation of every possible erotic and degenerate and taboo act had been described, “Once they had completed the show and bowed Xavier was shocked. Slowly he regained his composure. Upon a deep exhale he remarked that it was a truly unique act. ‘What do you call it?’ he asked.

“The family responded, ‘The Aristocrats.’”

Well down with the Aristocrats, I say.

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