An Old Joke

So an agent for a new over-the-top variety act finally gets a meeting with the biggest producer in the world. I mean, maybe ‘the world’ is selling it short. Word on the street is this guy’s even got God’s ear, if you can believe it.

Anyway, agent’s a working class type, will do just about anything to get this act on a big stage. Third and current husband’s last name’s Rothschild, and she met him at some place called Bilderberg. Sorry, not important to the story. But they were introduced by a fellow name of Henry Kissinger, apparently spent most of his life working as a secretary or something, so you know we’re talking about salt of the earth here. And I don’t want to tell a sob story, because everybody’s got one. Still, you oughta know she lost a friend a little over a year ago. Got hisself thrown in jail. Offed himself with a sheet, if you can believe it! Very sad. Very sad.

Alright, so she puts on her Sunday best and rolls into the producer’s house, and it’s insane. Gold everywhere. Not just gold leaf. The good stuff. Rich wood beams that are probably illegal to even lean against these days, much less cut down. Guards, too. Wacky outfits, kinda like something out of Alice in Wonderland. Producer’s name is Jorge, but everyone calls him Francisco. ‘That’s show business for you’, she says to herself and shakes her head. The chamberlain lets her in.

Francisco stares out the window opposite Lynn – sorry, that’s her name – putting off serious I’m a very busy man vibes. But like I said, working class type, but been around. She knows the drill, observes the forms. Jorge’s got a bit of a literal kiss-the-ring thing he likes to do, but COVID’s out there, y’all, and he’s playing it safe when it comes to bodily fluids and aerosols in a poorly ventilated room, even though it’s not clear to him that surface contamination has really been a significant transmission vector for this particular coronavirus. ‘Welcome’, he says, ‘I hear you have a new act for me.’

Lynn doesn’t want to waste his time, and wants to tell him about the group, so she says, ‘I don’t want to waste your time. Let me tell you about the group.’

‘First act is Brian. Handsome, wavy hair, very pleasant smell. Gets the crowd feeling comfortable from the get-go. But the bit is for real. He runs a bank that has been fined nearly $80 billion dollars since 2008, almost twice as much as the next closest American bank. What did they do? Oh, Francisco – can I call you Francisco? – it would be easier to tell you what they didn’t do. Nineteen different actions on various mortgage abuses. I mean, some real screw you, working American stuff. Securities abuses, too, including a ton on sales to Fannie and Freddie. Misleading small potatoes investors on auction rate securities. A bunch of pettiness on fees to poor people, abandoning underbanked communities, all sorts of stuff. I mean, it’s a huge act. Something for everybody. Rides the company’s private plane to work, too. But no, seriously. HUGE fan of the environment. Huge. Oh, and the regular people, too. Thinks they’re just the best.’

‘I know that sounds like a show-stopper, but the second guy? You’re gonna love him even more. So this guy, he’s a smoothie, big on CNBC, bit of a talker, every day telling the whole world how his CRM software is changing the world. I know every day is a throwaway phrase. So when I say every day, I mean every day. But same time, and this is just the best, dude sells tens of thousands of shares of his own company. Every day. Again, same explanation on the every day thing. You get it, right? Then the board just reups him, he goes back on CNBC, bang bang bang, let’s do it all over again. Classic!’

‘Okay, okay, hard to follow that, and yeah, the third one is a newbie, but he’s taking over a company that literally oversaw the biggest maritime oil spill in world history through sheer and utter neglect! Billions these guys paid in fines for gross negligence, for willful misconduct, for reckless behavior. And yeah, he’s new, but it’s a rich legacy and I know he can live up to it.’

‘And look, Francisco, I’ve got a couple dozen more of these, but I’m busy, you’re busy, and there’s no other game like this in town. I feel like you get what you’re looking at here. What do you say?’

So Francisco says, ‘Yeah, these guys sound like a real cast of characters. But what’s the payoff? What’s the bit?’

Lynn doesn’t miss a beat, this one. She says, and I think it’s important to tell you she’s been waiting to deliver this line for a while, so she’s trying to hold back in the way you do, you know, like when you’re about to give a speech and you’re worried you’re going to talk way too fast and spoil the punchline, and I gotta tell you, she mostly manages it, and she blurts out maybe just a little too fast: ‘We end by telling the audience that we’re there to make sure that capitalism doesn’t just serve the ultra-wealthy. They are here to ensure that capitalism…is inclusive!’

Silence. For a beat. Two.

Then it explodes: a chorus of laughter. I mean, I’m sure these ebony walls were harvested humanely from the hardwood forests of Mozambique or something like 500 years ago, but they’ve never heard laughter like this. They were fashioned by the hand of God to make these echoes of laughter ripple through these gaudy halls. So yeah, laughter turns to coughing – it’s NOT a COVIDy cough, Jesus, people, would you relax – and coughing turns to tears.

‘My God’, Jorge says. ‘What do you call yourselves?’

‘You haven’t figured it out by now?’

We’re The Aristocrats.’

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  1. Amazing piece Rusty!

  2. When I see Aristocrats all I can think of is the cartoon Atristocats. Maybe they’re the Aristoracoons.

  3. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    It’s a curse. My wife used to work at Disney World, so she shares the affliction.

  4. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Thank you!

  5. Brilliant! I have to admit I was very slow on the uptake on the Jorge/Francisco/Ear of God character. I think the 2021 market outlook pieces have fried my brain!

  6. I have a feeling Rusty was jamming to ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ while writing this one.

  7. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Hah! Never been a big Stones fan!

  8. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Or the writing was just a bit too oblique, which is probably the more likely of the two! Thanks, Patrick!

  9. Avatar for rfleay rfleay says:

    I feel pretty silly…but I still can’t figure out Jorge Francisco.
    Maybe it’s a Northern Hemisphere thing?

  10. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Don’t feel silly - it was I that was probably being a bit too cute. The link on the closing “We’re the Aristocrats” line ought to clear it up.

  11. Awesome! If you haven’t seen the 2005 Documentary with Bob Saget, Penn Jillette, Drew Carey and others telling the original form of the joke, you are really missing out. Definitely NSFW and not suitable for the under 16 crowd, but worth adding to your guilty pleasures list.

  12. Brilliant Rusty - I know what Ben is going to say - starts with a “B”?

  13. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    I think that was the first moment most of us saw Danny Tanner go full Saget, and it was glorious!

  14. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Hah! No doubt about it whatsoever, Clive. I won’t deny him the pleasure.

  15. Powerful Sad Thank you Rusty

  16. Avatar for olowe olowe says:

    Really enjoyed that one Rusty, thanks. It sure is hard to thread a needle with a camel but it won’t stop them from trying. Wonder how much of that gold in the producer’s pad came from rich sinners the last time buying indulgences was in vogue. Nothing new in showbiz!

  17. In my most humble opinion Gilbert Gottfried owns this one and I was really hoping the link was going to take me there.

  18. Pure gold. Damn that’s funny. Well good. Now we have a list of companies that have licenses to steal on narrative investment potential, and who have been endorsed blessed by God’s own emissary!

  19. Avatar for Greg_S Greg_S says:

    “a historic new partnership between some of the world’s largest investment and business leaders and the Vatican”. Is this the same Vatican whose net worth is estimated at 30 Billion dollars?

    Birds of a feather flock together.

  20. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Hah, in a just and not cruel world it would have.

  21. try David Lee Roth’s cover of Sympathy from Interview with the Vampire. best IMO.

  22. I still can’t believe this is real and an actual thing! I figured you made the news site to continue the joke. Crazy! - nice piece rusty

  23. I clicked the link, started reading and thought I had gone to The Onion. This is not going to end well.

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