You’re probably familiar with the classic Vaudeville bit, The Aristocrats. It’s a notoriously filthy joke that always has the same premise: “A family of performers goes into a talent agent’s office to pitch their act.” From there, the disturbing details are ad-libbed, varying wildly from teller to teller. Among veteran comics, The Aristocrats is a kind of combination improv game and one-up contest. The punchline is irrelevant. What makes it work is the setup.
Such is The Guaranteed Hiccup Cure.
I’m no doctor, but I’m confident there’s nothing even remotely medicinal going on here. But while I haven’t tested it in years, in over a decade of bartending, it never failed to work on one of my patrons. Not once.
I’m not really sure. But having watched countless fellow barkeeps bomb with the same recipe, I am certain that flipping the OFF switch on those involuntary electrical misfires has nothing to do with the cure’s ingredients or preparation, all of which you could probably replace with the same effect. Rather, like a homeopathic grift, the cure works by distracting the sufferer’s booze-muddled brain with enough backstory, bullshit and detailed instruction that by the time you reach the punchline, the gag’s already over. All that’s left is the “Ta-da!” and the standing ovation. And the huge tip.
What You’ll Need
- A bar napkin
- A lemon slice
- A sugar packet
- A standard rocks glass, half-filled with soda water
- A few dashes of cocktail bitters (like Angostura)
- A detailed story, followed by an even more detailed set of instructions. Mine went something like this…
A guy goes into a bar.
Bartender: Hey, what can I get you?
Guy: Budweiser p-HIC. Budweiser, please.
Ew, hiccups, huh?
That sucks. How long you had ‘em?
Dude it’s be-HIC… Ugh. Like fifteen minutes.
Man, that’s torture.
It su-HIC… FUCK.
Still, could be worse. I saw a thing on this woman in India? She hiccuped for three years straight.
Oh, come on. Wha-HIC.
Day and night, nonstop. Husband left her. Lost her job. Kids. Doctors were baffled. They tried everything. Hypnosis. Electroshock. Leeches.
Yeah. So after like two years, she just goes nuts. I mean who wouldn’t? The sleep deps alone. Finally they send her to this mental hospital-slash-prison — one of those hospital-prison asylums like in Strange Brew or whatever. People who eat their own hair and think they’re wizards and shit.
Yeah. So time goes by, and she’s getting along okay. It even gets where her hiccuping sorta soothes the other patients. Like a ticking clock at bedtime… HIC… HIC… HIC… sorta relaxes and lulls everyone to sleep, you know? Until this one night.
Well, it’s a little while after lights out, right, so everybody’s all locked up in their rooms? Cells? Whatever. And same as every night, the only thing echoing through the whole ward is Hiccup Lady. HIC… HIC… HIC…
But then? Outta nowhere? Poof. It stops. No hiccups. Nothing. Total silence. A few seconds go by. Then a minute. Two minutes. Now the patients are noticing. They’re murmuring, getting restless. Everyone’s sitting up in their beds. ‘Hey, why isn’t Hiccup Lady hiccuping? What’s happening? Hiccup Lady stopped hiccuping!’ The whole ward’s in total freakout mode, banging toilet pans around and whatnot.
Well, about that time, the late shift doctor — same one that’s been trying to cure her all this time? He’s passing by, and he hears all the commotion and he’s like, ‘What the heck? The Hiccup Lady’s cured? Open the gate!’ So he rushes through and orders the guard to buzz open her cell door or whatever. Only in his haste, the guard accidentally buzzes open every door on the block. BOOM! all the crazies flood outta their fuckin’ cells and down to Hiccup Lady’s room to see what’s up. It’s mayhem. The doctor’s screaming, ‘Let me through! Let me through! Don’t startle her, she’ll relapse!’ because apparently that’s a thing? So finally he pushes his way through all the patients and gets to her door. And that’s when he sees it.
See-HIC. Sees what?
She’d ripped out her own larynx and hung herself with it.
Oh, for fuck’s sa-HIC.
Patients tore the doctor apart. Saw it on Discovery or one of those. Anyway you wanna try my cure?
My hiccup cure. It’s guaranteed. 100%. Never doesn’t work.
Are you kidd-HIC… Yes?!
Yeah? Okay, cool! You’ll love this. It’ll work too, I swear. Did I mention it’s guaranteed?
The bartender pulls out a small rocks glass, fills it halfway with soda, and adds a few dashes of bitters. He places a fresh slice of lemon on a bar napkin, rips open a sugar packet, empties its contents onto the lemon, and pushes it toward the guy.
What’re you HIC-king?
Now it’s important you listen. It only works if you do exactly as I say. Doing it wrong can make your hiccups permanent.
Are you HIC? Are you serious?
Haha, no. I mean, who knows. I’ve heard of it happening, but I doubt it. Just make sure you do exactly what I say. Now after your next hiccup, you need to immediately exhale all the air from your lungs. And I mean all of it, and fast. Like you’re trying to sink to the bottom of a swimming pool.
Then tilt your head way back and shoot the entire rocks glass in one gulp, only this time, inhale as much air as possible while doing it.
Drink it all a-HIC… once?
Exactly. Pretend you’re swallowing a small water balloon, cuz that’s what it’ll feel like.
After you swallow, close your eyes and bite down on the lemon — still holding your breath — and count five-Mississippi. Got it?
Are y-HIC. Are you fucking with me?
Just be ready for your next hiccup. Remember: Exhale, Inhale, Lemon, Count, Exhale. Got it?
O-HIC… Fuck. Alright.
For the next few seconds, the guy looks like an Olympic weightlifter studying a hay bale-sized barbell. His eyes widen. His heart rate picks up. He hyperventilates a little as his brain wrestles with whether it’s actually going to let the rest of his body go through with this.
What is this? he’s thinking. Is this really a thing? Why haven’t I heard of this? If this some kind of joke, I swear to god I-HIC…
He exhales, inhales the bitters & soda, gropes for the lemon, finds it and bites down, the citrus twisting his face in Ernest Borgnine-ian fashion.
Hold it! One-Mississippi… two-Mississippi… three-Mississippi… four-Mississippi… And… exhale!
His eyes bulge and water as he empties his lungs again. He stares red-faced and glassy-eyed at the lemony wet spot on the bar napkin, barely suppressing the urge to belch, or worse.
Dude. Holy shit.
What the… How the hell did you do that?
Nothing. Budweiser, was it?