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Smoky Gentlemen's Club
Nobody said human gentlemen.

Politics and poker,
Politics and poker
Makes the av'rage guy
A heavy smoker.
Fiorello!, "Politics and Poker" (reprise)

A.K.A. "The Actually Genuinely Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club" (although don't expect them to be any more respectable for their legitimacy).

Expect to see a lot of besuited, bemonocled old white men, reclining with snifters of brandy in red studded-leather armchairs, smoking cigars or pipes and secretly pulling the puppet-strings of the world.

Alternatively, just a place upper-class men can be out from under the feet of their wives and servants. Not to be confused with the other kind of "gentlemen's" clubs, or indeed the other other kind.

Clubs like this generally seem to be named according to similar rules to a Mad Libs Thriller Title; "The [esoteric noun or name] Club".


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comicbooks 
  • The Hellfire Club of X-Men have a smoke filled room thing going on in some of the 19th century plotlines, when Dark Phoenix goes back in time with Sebastian Shaw.
    • The modern-day version affects the appearance of one of these as their cover.
  • Batman villain 'Boss' Rupert Thorne did most of his dirty dealings out of one of these called The Tobacconists Club.

    Film 
  • Thank You For Smoking - the MOD Squad's lunches.
  • In Fritz Lang's M, one of these groups is seen discussing the child murderer on the loose, right before a group of lower class people do the same. It's meant to show how widespread the topic is, as well as show that the two extremes are not so different from one another (a major theme of the work).
  • Heroic example - Good Night, and Good Luck..
  • There's one in the Plaza in the Eloise At Christmastime Made-for-TV Movie.
  • The beginning of Around the World in Eighty Days.
  • Steed is a member of one in The Avengers (1998). The members are scandalized when Mrs. Peel barges in to speak with him.
  • Louis, all his friends and coworkers, and the Duke brothers are all members of the same one in Trading Places.
  • The Peabody Club in The Associate.
  • In Carry On Helping Hands one character is requested to work at one with a rule of "silence". Unfortunately all of the old gentlemen keep doing things that make him laugh and he has a hard time keeping a straight face.
  • Jerry waits for Horace in one at the start of Top Hat. Their silence rule and their attitude annoy him, so he does a short but loud tap dance for them as he leaves.
  • In Scanners, Dr. Ruth is relaxing in a comfy leather chair in such an establishment when Vale calls him over the phone to report back to him.
  • The Errol Flynn picture Gentleman Jim features San Francisco's Olympic Club.

    Literature 
  • In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, note how often Holmes and Watson end up in one of those clubs to meet a client or expose a villain.
    • Not to mention Holmes' brother Mycroft belongs to the Diogenes Club - a club for antisocial gentlemen, which treasures silence so much that talking in the wrong room is an offence punishable by expulsion.
  • In the Stephen King novella The Breathing Method, the narrator attends a gentlemen's club which features storytelling as well as the usual socializing, brandy-drinking and the like. There's something eerie about the club, but we never find out exactly what it is.
  • James Bond's boss, M, is a member of one of these; at the beginning of Moonraker he invites Bond along because he suspects one of the other club members is habitually cheating at cards, and he wants Bond to work how it's being done so the club officials can take appropriate action. (And yes, this does turn out to be relevant to the rest of the plot.)
  • Fidgett's in Thief of Time. Death is a member. He fulfils all the qualifications of a gentleman: he has an estate in the country (indeed, his own Domain), is unfailingly polite and very punctual, and of course is an excellent horseman. Susan gets in to find him because the men inside become convinced that women can't exist within the walls of the club, except on special occasions, therefore she can't possibly be in there.
    • The unnamed get-togethers where brandy-swilling men plot the replacement of the Patrician in Feet of Clay and The Truth are more like the sinister version of the trope.
  • The Drones Club in P. G. Wodehouse is another heroic version; membership includes Bertie Wooster, Rupert Psmith, Freddie Threepwood, and most of their friends. Jeeves meanwhile mingles with his fellow valets at the Junior Ganymede.
  • Reginald and Murgatroyd of Silicon Wolfpack are members as well. The author must think it's a Public Domain Location.
  • Lord Peter Wimsey is also a member of more than one Smoky Gentlemens' Club; the novel The Unpleasantness At The Bellona Club mostly takes place within one of them.
  • The Exeter Club/White Lodge in the Elemental Masters series passes itself off as one of these (going so far as to pension off male servants to sit in the padded leather chairs and read the newspaper/nap) as a cover.
  • Phryne Fisher belongs to a female version of one of these.
  • Herman Melville's short story "The Paradise of Bachelors" is about one of these. It had once been a knightly military order, but has since atrophied into a bunch of rich old men who eat very well, and are all very happy not to have any women in their lives. The story's companion piece, "The Tartarus of Maids", is about a workhouse full of unmarried women and widows, many of whom come from wealthy families. The two stories point out the gender discrepancies of Melville's day, and the unfairness of women being unable to support themselves.

    Live-Action TV 
  • As per tradition, the haunt of Sir Humphrey and co in Yes, Minister.
  • "Rowley Birkin, QC" of The Fast Show seems to be speaking from a club like this.
    • Paul Whitehouse did it again in Harry and Paul, where he and Harry Enfield play a pair of homophobic old men.
  • In the episode "Zip Zip Zip" of How I Met Your Mother, Barney takes Robin to one of these and in a subversion of this trope they dork out, high five, then go play laser tag.
  • The "Humphrey and Godfrey" sketches in The Two Ronnies.
  • A subplot in the Lois and Clark episode "Chi of Steel" revolves around Perry White's membership in one of these; Lois manages to sneak in in disguise.
  • At least two episodes of The Twilight Zone: "Back There" and "The Silence", seem to be set in this sort of club.
  • The Season Four opening arc of Bones, "Yanks in the U.K.", included a visit to a Gentlemen's Club. The American implications of the term are discussed.
  • One episode of Frasier sees Frasier and Niles competing for a recent membership opening in one of these.
  • As in the books (see above), Mycroft Holmes frequents one in Sherlock. When Watson storms in loudly demanding to see him, he encounters a lot of angry, stuttering old duffers in chairs before being bagged and dragged into a back room. Apparently there's a strict code of silence in the main club to avoid members revealing any vital state secrets.
  • The X-Files hints at this: Cigarette-Smoking Man and his fellow-conspirators are often seen having grave secret meetings in smoky rooms, which often look old and expensive.
  • Lucien Blake belongs to one of these in The Doctor Blake Mysteries, because his father had been a member. He keeps doing things to deliberately upset the stuffiness of the other members.
  • The government members were often shown plotting backroom deals in one of these clubs in House Rules.

    Tabletop Games 

    Theatre 
  • The National Campaign Committee (a mostly unseen group of people) in the musical Of Thee I Sing. Their headquarters is a shabby hotel room suffused with cigar smoke, and more than a few bottles of White Rock (this was during Prohibition). "It's not that they couldn't afford a better hotel, for the party is notoriously rich," the script explains, "but somehow this room seems thoroughly in keeping with the men who occupy it."
  • Fiorello! has the Ben Marino Association, a smoke-filled joint in Greenwich Village where the hacks of Tammany Hall meet and play five-card stud.

    Web Original 
  • The Protectors of the Plot Continuum have the Pennacook Club, HQ's only private bar. Nobody gets in without an invitation from someone already a member, and even then there's no guarantees, a formal dress code is enforced, and the décor is full of antique leather and the like.

    Western Animation 
  • Lois' father in Family Guy frequents a club like this.
  • The League of Robots from the Futurama movie "Beast with a Billion Backs" is a parody of this. Bender believes them to be secretly plotting to rise up and kill all humans. In reality, they're just five or six robots who enjoy getting together to drink, smoke, and occasionally talk catty about humans.

    Real Life 
  • The craze for establishing social clubs, in England at least, really caught on during the Regency. Due to the Napoleonic War the English upper class were prevented from participating in fashionable European society and therefore had to look to each other for amusement. The original clubs were exclusive to aristocrats, but later clubs extended membership towards the middle-classes. By the Edwardian Era, there was a club for everyone: soldiers, civil servants, colonial service members, doctors, reform politicians, artists, sportsmen, Scotsmen etc. Each club generally provided a place for political discussion, gambling, fine dining, and a healthy amount of nepotism and insider dealing. Every reputable man of a good trade or living was expected to participate in at least one club, and those who do not are seen as dangerously anti-social.
    • Working Men's Clubs started out as something a bit similar, albeit less expensive, but nowadays are mostly indistinguishable from British Pubs.


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