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The Aristocrats
"A man walks into a talent agency..."

Comedians don't tell jokes. A proper joke seldom fits the format and atmosphere of stand-up comedy, and jokes end as soon as the audience knows the punchline.

One joke prevails over all others, however: The Aristocrats, a joke comedians keep back to tell each other (or themselves, as a warm-up act). The details of the joke change with every telling (and who tells it), but the basic structure remains the same no matter what:

1) A family act goes in to see a talent agent. While the agent doesn't want to hear them out (because he considers family acts too cute), the father finally convinces him to give them a chance.

2) The comedian telling the joke describes the family's act in as much detail as they prefer. Sometimes, the father tells the agent a blow-by-blow description of the act, while other times, the family performs it live for the agent. The act always involves the family performing shocking, heinous, risque, and possibly even illegal acts.

3) At the completion of the description, the shocked agent can only ask what the family calls their act. The father proudly replies, "The Aristocrats!"

In the past, the joke served as a form of satire about the upper class, but that take doesn't really apply these days; in modern times, it's not particularly funny as a joke anymore (since it's essentially a Shaggy Dog Story with a weak bit of irony as the punchline). The real point of the joke these days involves the description of the act itself: anyone who tells the joke must cross the line as many times and in as many directions as humanly possible. Most comedians traditionally invent the act on the spot as they tell the joke, which turns it into an improv comedy exercise. Standard ingredients for the description of the act include incest, paedophilia, rape, death, coprophilia and urophilia note , bodily fluids, bestiality, and pretty much every vile sex act and fetish one can think of — and every horrific act of violence, depravity, and otherwise immoral human behavior that nobody wants to think of.

A variation upon the joke leaves the act completely tame, but gives it a shockingly disgusting name.

There is also a documentary for the jokes released in 2005.

Do not confuse with The Aristocats.

We call it: The Tropes!

Different variations of this joke:

"...The Aristocrats!"
That's disgusting! (Pause) ...So how much for season tickets?

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