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The Aristocrats Review


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In the dark weeks following 9/11, Comedy Central's management surprisingly decided not to cancel its taping of The Friar's Club Roast of Hugh Hefner. During the recording of the event, hundreds of comedians and urban luminaries found themselves shocked out of their post-terrorism pall by none other than Gilbert Gottfried, who delivered what the New York Times' Frank Rich, an attendee of the taping, called "the greatest dirty joke ever told."

Tracing its origins to vaudeville, this "comic's joke" is tantamount to a secret handshake among comedians and their friends. Although versions vary widely, it basically goes like this: A man seeking show biz representation walks into a talent agent's office and describes his family's act, which consists of various illegal and unspeakable activities including incest, bestiality, necrophilia, and an explosion of bodily fluids. After the man finishes, the appalled agent asks what this horrible act is called, to which the man responds, "The Aristocrats!"

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Peter Adam Golden

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