The Aristocrats

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"The Aristocrats" is a taboo-defying off-color joke that has been told by numerous stand-up comedians since the vaudeville era. The joke was the subject of a 2005 documentary film of the same name. It received publicity when it was used by Gilbert Gottfried during the Friars' Club roast of Hugh Hefner in September 2001.

Traditional format[edit]

This joke almost always has these elements—alternative versions may change this form.

  1. Setup: A family act going in to see a talent agent; either the whole family or just one family member (usually the father).
    • The agent asks what they do.
    • If the whole family is present, the act is performed for the agent; otherwise it is described.
  2. Act: It is described in as much detail as the teller prefers.
  3. Punch line: The shocked (or intrigued) agent asks what the act is called, and the proud answer (sometimes delivered with a flourish) is: "The Aristocrats!"; Some versions have the agent then asking, "So – Is that all ya' got?"

History in print[edit]

  • In 2005, Jackie Martling's website cited "The Aristocrats" as appearing on page 987 of Gershon Legman's Rationale of the Dirty Joke, Second Series, published in 1975.[1] Legman retells the joke, complete with its traditional vaudevillian flourishes, although he does not attribute the joke to vaudeville roots. Instead, Legman learned the joke from a young man who grew up in a broken home.[1]
  • In a 2005 interview, comedian Barry Cryer said he had heard the joke "fifty years ago".[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Martling, Jackie (2005). ""The Aristocrats" from Rationale Of The Dirty Joke, An Analysis Of Sexual Humor Series Two: No Laughing Matter". Archived from the original on 2005-12-24. Retrieved 2007-03-26.
  2. ^ Logan, Brian (2005-09-02). "The verdict". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-03-26.

External links[edit]