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Monday, April 18, 2011

Hitlers in America

In the clip below, Chris Hitler, an investment and real estate specialist in Mequon, Wisconsin, wants you to know that he is passionate about personal storage. Listen to the clip, and you’ll hear Chris, without pretentiousness or guile, deliver his pitch. For Wig & Pen, the experience was revelatory—everything about Mr. Hitler exudes middle American normalcy except, of course, the drop-dead weight of his surname. Comics pursuing straight-man roles should study this offering. It could raise the late Phil Hartmann from the other side.

This blog discovered Chris Hitler in the indispensible web article, A Brief History of Hitlers in America, by Howard Altman. Altman describes the town of Circleville, Ohio as Hitler Central. You can find five generations of Hitlers buried in its Hitler-Ludwig Cemetery. For marmoreal photos, click here.

At the Gates in Circleville

The End of the Line? Altman’s article is a great read but like many writers who embrace a subject, he is excessively bullish about it:
You might think there wouldn’t be any Hitlers in America. But they’re everywhere, Altman remarks. ". . . In fact, there are 50 or so Hitlers living in these 50 states and their history with our country goes back over 200 years.
Fifty Hitlers is what I call a one-way trip to extinctionville. Let’s be generous and say that 40 have child-bearing potential. Twenty of the 40 would likely be women, who I think would be itching to trade in their surname for a spouse’s. That would likely apply to the trend in hyphenated married names, including those of the implicated offspring. What self-respecting American bride would prefer the married name of Hitler-Messerschmidt to the less controversial, more efficient Messerschmitt?

That leaves us with 20 male Hitlers. Even given a reproductively fit cadre from this subset, how many women do you think would line up to be the first on their block to conspire in Hitler, The Next Generation?

Inspiration for this post came from the pathbreaking TV series Hill Street Blues. In several episodes of season three, a traffic scofflaw—profession: unemployed stand-up comedian—sported the name Vic Hitler. Valuing true talent, Hill Street Detective J.D. LaRue signed on as his short-lived agent. But the jokester was doubly cursed: his name proved a liability with club owners and his on-stage narcolepsy proved a show stopper. Sample this Hitler’s day in court in the clips below.

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