In response to a few observations I posted on the blog last week, my friend and mentor Tim Morrissey said a few nice things about me at his blog, "The Way Things R." They're intimidating things, flattering things, the kind of things that paint me as a civil, sensitive, responsible adult.
Thankfully, my pals at Dane101 have offered me a chance to associate with something so vile and repugnant (I hope), my name will be free from those kinds of connotations for months to come.
Justice Potter Stewart once wrote in a Supreme Court opinion about obscenity, "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it." This has always just struck me as a really long-winded spiel to go off on, when all he needed to say was, "the Aristocrats."
If you're unfamiliar with the Aristocrats joke, it's basically carte blanche to say the most outrageous things imaginable under the guise of telling a joke. Put less succinctly at Dane101, "The concept and set up of the joke is fairly simple as it typically starts with a man or a family walking into a talent agent's office and pitching an act. The next part is the difficult part as the comedian launches into a lengthy description of the most offensive act the dark recesses of his or her mind can dream up. The act typically includes quite a bit of cursing and a whole lot of sexual deviance. The goal is to make it to the punchline which is always the same. The agent asks "What the heck do you call an act like that?" and the comedian says with much flourish "I call it 'The Aristocrats'."
Like Stewart, I know it when I see it too, and I even have a respectably unhealthy appreciation for the obscene, which is why I'm thrilled that Jesse Russell at Dane101 asked me to be part of a local spin on the old topic. I'll be part of a panel of judges with Scott Gordon from The Onion's Decider and Katjusa Cisar from 77Square, and up to a dozen local comedians will take a stab at making us wince.
Bring it on.
And if you think listening to a dozen different versions of the Aristocrats joke would wear thin after a while, you've obviously never seen the documentary bearing the same name. I think this is going to be an absolute scream, and I hope to see a good turn out.
Just make sure you don't plan on eating shortly before or after the performance.
And in all seriousness, Tim, thanks for the kind words.