There’s a simple question we should all be asking ourselves about the comedy we consume—whether it’s a Saturday Night Live sketch or a local stand-up act. Who is this for? Clearer answers are often indicative of stronger products. In the case of Twitter’s @ChiPartyAunt, the answer is clear and rare: Chicagoans.
RECOMMENDED: Read our Q&A with @ChiPartyAunt
Chicago Party Aunt has emerged as a must-follow account for locals since it was launched in April 2016. The fictional character embodies the trashiest, drunkest, suburbiest, Chicagolandiest woman of all time, and the feed is dominated by local references. ChiPartyAunt loves Jewel Osco’s baked potato soup, wears obscene Cubs gear, lost a Jessica Simpson heel at the Hangge-Uppe, seeks legal counsel from Peter Francis Geraci and has had sexual encounters with nearly every iconic Chicago man in places every local knows. With that element of relatability, the account has gained traction, now boasting over 17,000 followers. The creator of the feed, who asks to remain anonymous, is outstandingly specific, painting a razor-sharp picture of exactly who this outrageous mess of a woman is. The best part? We all have a ChiPartyAunt in our lives.
By and large, these jokes don’t mean much to folks who haven’t spent time in Chicago. The character is a middle-class, blue-collar white woman, and her obscene comedy likely appeals most to those familiar with that demographic. She by no means represents every Chicagoan, but the account is particularly satisfying for area natives given the number of deep-cut references. And she clicks with people: Droves of CPA fans craft their own “I saw @ChiPartyAunt” sightings that the handle retweets, taking the life of this whirlwind character into new hands. Chicago Bagel Authority even created a sandwich in her honor. It may be a Twitter feed comprised of 95 percent handjob jokes, but ChiPartyAunt cultivates a sense of civic pride that city dwellers evidently crave.
For the most part, Chicagoans aren’t used to really feeling seen in mainstream pop culture. (Consider New York, whose colloquial quirks are referenced ad nauseum, such that much of the country is at least moderately literate in them.) So when we do get this kind of attention, even just from a funny Twitter account, we get particularly attached. By not giving a shit if the jokes resonate with folks in New York or L.A. (or any other place outside a 50-mile radius of Cook County), ChiPartyAunt gives Chicagoans the joy of sharing an inside joke.
Of course, Chicago culture is the subject of plenty of mainstream works. Blues Brothers and Ferris Bueller come to mind; more recently, Joe Swanberg’s work (Easy, Drinking Buddies) uses uber-hunky celebs like Olivia Wilde and Orlando Bloom to thrust the city into the streaming spotlight for a national audience. Brown Girls and Brujos are excellent web series set here, and though they’re smaller projects, they’re aimed to appeal to a geographically diverse audience. Ultimately, movies and TV shows are too expensive to create to justify gearing them strictly toward Chicagoans. But Twitter is free and will happily host such specificity.
Chicago churns out incredible comedians and we brag about it all the time. We’re home to all-star comedy theaters and a tight-knit scene that allows up-and-comers the space to experiment, bomb and thrive. Our TV and film production scene, while growing, doesn’t offer comics enough jobs to justify staying here long-term, so exceptional comedians often head to New York or Los Angeles to find work (as ChiPartyAunt’s pseudonymous creator did). Ever the chip on our shoulder, we’ll always claim talents like Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert or Kumail Nanjiani as our own. But ultimately they’ve become national figures who speak to and for far more than just our city. With Chicago Party Aunt, we get a trove of funny, crude comedy just for Chicago.
It’s rare and wonderful to find a work of TV or film that feels for you; it’s why racial, gender and sexual representation in comedy matters so much. It’s exhilarating to feel like someone has reached into the depths of your brain, pulled out a random memory, and turned it into something new. In this sliver of Twitter, this account has created a world for people who identify as Chicagoans and connects those who have moved away to a bizarro version of their hometown. Chicago Party Aunt doesn’t really give a fuck if you don’t get her—and that’s the most Chicago thing of all.