So, there’s this big shot talent agent. He’s got a great reputation. He manages most of the really huge acts and almost any newcomer he takes on becomes a huge star in a matter of months. He’s got great connections and a great eye for what the people want.
Needless to say, he’s often besieged by potential clients wanting him to choose them and take them to fame and stardom. In fact, he had so many people wanting to get an audition with him that if he saw everyone, he wouldn’t have time to do anything else. However, the agent realized that he could always use new acts and that it’d be a little selfish to not spread his gift around with folks who could possibly deserve it. As such, shortly after he started getting swamped, the agent set a new policy where one day a week, on Tuesdays, he would devote half of his day, from 9am to lunch (which he preferred to take at 12.30, but could go as late as 1.15 if he wasn’t particularly hungry that day) to screening new acts.
This new policy was somewhat frustrating for the new acts, of course, but they realized that it was fair; after all, the alternative was to not see anyone new and denying these up-and-comers the leg-up to potential stardom. To make it fair, and also to cut down on the amount of people camping out in his office hoping to be there early enough to get an audition with him, he set up a lottery system. He got one of those “take-a-number” ticket dispensers, like what you see at the DMV or certain pharmacies — one of the three-digit variety, of course — and used a random number generator to choose who was chosen.
He made sure that everyone knew that he wanted to get through as many people as he could, so brevity was encouraged. The agent figured that everyone should take as much time as they needed, but the quicker the audition, the less likely he’d start to lose interest and want to get another act in. It was also understood that if the agent chose not to represent you, you couldn’t come back for two years; this was merely to help the turnover of new acts; after all, a few hours a week is still an awfully short amount of time to get through the amount of acts that wanted a moment of his time.
This particular day, the agent was having a rough go of it. He’d basically had a series of mediocre, unsellable variety show acts — plate spinners that dropped their china, marionettes that got tangled in their strings, guys that glued googly eyes to their hand and talked through the side of their mouth, that sort of thing — and dreadfully unfunny comedians, complaining about the standard bees in subpar comedians’ bonnets: Airline food, toilet seats, remote controls, members of the opposite sex.
Usually, there’d be one or two good acts to come out of these Tuesday mornings, but this day was completely dry. He’d even begun to think that perhaps he’d already found all the talent in the country and all that was left was the dregs. This day was so bad, he was even considering just giving up on the whole New-Talent Tuesdays (as he sometimes liked to refer to them, as he had a background in advertising before he became an agent, which may or may not have contributed to his success of selling his acts to the people putting together various shows of both stage and television).
He looked at the clock: 12:15. While he wasn’t sure yet to rearrange his schedule in the long-term, he did, however, decide he was going to take an early lunch to get away from the office and escape the acrid stench of gunpowder and shrapnel. He pressed the intercom button and informed his secretary and asked her to send everyone home. He heard an audible groan from behind his office door as he usually did when he quit for lunch, as everyone knew they’d have to come back next week and try for their shot.
He waited in his chair for five minutes to allow everyone to clear out — he found it really awkward to leave when there were acts staring at him with their sad eyes wishing that their lottery number had come up. When he felt that enough time had passed, he grabbed his coat and hat and opened the door to leave.
When the door swung open, he saw a family standing at it, clad in a United States Flag-themed sequined outfit.
“I’m sorry, I’m not seeing anyone else today. You’ll have to come back next week and try your hand at the lottery. Excuse me, but I’m going to lunch.”
“Please, sir! We’ve been coming here every day for 3 years and we’ve never been called! All we want is to have an audition with you — we’ve been working our whole lives to perform for you! Please just give us a chance!”
“I’m sorry — I’ve told you, I’m done for the day, and I’m going to lunch.”
“But we’ve been waiting for three years! And, besides, you typically leave between 12:30 and 1:15, and it’s only 12:20! There’s no one else here but us, so no one will know! Please see us!”
The agent was ultimately a friendly man and he liked pleasing people. It was this desire to make people happy that ultimately lead to him being an agent; he loved the art of performance and wanted to share this love with as many people as he could. Despite his failures, which were admittedly few, he hadn’t grown hard or bitter. He gave the patriarch a warm smile.
“You’re right, I typically do. Seeing as you’ve been coming every week for three years, and I’ve always thought that observation should be rewarded, I’ll let you audition — however, you’ve only got five minutes. Is that fair?”
“Oh, yes, yes, that’s great! That’s more than fair, thank you!”
The agent walked back over to his chair, eased his weight into it and leaned back. He pulled an egg timer out of his desk and set it.
“All right, you’ve got five minutes. Wow me.”
The agent set the timer, and the family performed a whole host of disgusting and unsavory acts too disturbing to repeat here, ending precisely as the bell rang exactly five minutes later.
The father looked at the agent. “So, what did you think?”
The agent was shocked. It took him a few minutes to regain his composure, and even then he could only sit in silence.
When he could finally speak, he said “My GOD, that was AMAZING. That was the best act I’ve ever seen in my life. I would be honored to represent you. I swear that we can get you your own show, headlining. This is the return of the family act! Thank you so much for showing me that! I’ll have my secretary get the paperwork ready!”
The agent pressed the button on his intercom.
“Mary, Mary! We’ve got a new act! Bring out the papers — fill it out to….”
At this point, the agent paused. He took his finger off the button, and turned to the father. “Sorry, I forgot to ask — what is it that you call yourselves?”
The father looked at him jubilantly — “The Aristocrats!”