In what appears to be a world record, Hannah Smithworth, 22, has taken on the unenviable task of keeping a joke from her junior year’s AP U.S. History class alive with her peers and others all through college and even beyond graduation.
“It wasn’t easy,” says Smithworth, looking winded, “but it was hella worth it. Now everyone can know how funny that day was, regardless of whether or not they were there.”
The joke began in 2010 when Mr. Martman taught the class about Aaron Burr, describing the third U.S. vice president as “history’s first badass”. Perhaps it was Mr. Martman’s devil-may-care use of “badass” or the giddy realization that history can be fun, but Badass Aaron Burr became a recurring motif throughout the remainder of the year. The more enthusiastic students made it into a meme they posted around their classroom. “Badass Aaron Burr doesn’t study…gets a 5” was fortuitously posted the day before their AP exam.
While a couple of Mr. Martman’s students claim that they never found the joke all that funny to begin with, a core group kept the joke alive throughout the rest of high school. Smithworth was among these steadfast torch-holders who mentioned the joke whenever anyone, including those who weren’t in the class, said either “badass” or “Aaron Burr” and continued to post new memes to the increasingly stagnant Facebook group.
“It applies to literally any occasion,” explains Smithworth, when asked about the joke’s appeal. “Take any situation, and Badass Aaron Burr will do it better than anyone else. Including a duel with Alexander Hamilton,” she adds with a conspiratorial wink.
For graduation, Smithworth and two of her friends wore t-shirts with Burr’s visage upon them.
“It didn’t seem appropriate for the occasion, but it made her laugh,” said her grandmother, Lila Smithworth. “Hardly anything else makes her laugh, so we go along with it.”
Many hoped that the joke would die once the class of 2011 started college, but it helped some through those first lonely months, and helped keep them in touch. Smithworth occasionally posted new jokes to the Facebook group; a group that was slowly dwindling with each meme.
“Why can’t they get over it?” wondered Jen Wit, a former member of Martman’s class who had recently learned about Eurocentrism. “Also, calling some politician from the 1700s history’s greatest badass? So Eurocentric.”
Smithworth is reportedly planning for Badass Aaron Burr to play a large thematic role in the upcoming five-year reunion, of which she is in charge. “I’m totally prepared,” she says. “I can just wear the Badass Aaron Burr costume I’ve worn for the past five Halloweens. People love it!”