The Aristocrats (joke)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

"The Aristocrats" (also known as "The Debonaires" or "The Sophisticates" in some tellings) is an exceptionally transgressive (taboo-defying) dirty joke that has been told by numerous stand-up comedians since the vaudeville era. Throughout its long history, it has evolved from a clichéd staple of vaudevillian humor into a postmodern anti-joke.

Steven Wright has likened it to a secret handshake among comedians, and it is seen as something of a game in which those who tell it try to top each other in terms of shock value. It is thought of as a badge of honor among expert comedians and is notoriously hard to perform successfully.

It is rarely told the same way twice, often improvised, and 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.


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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Aristocrats (joke)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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