The first time I played Cards Against Humanity I was buzzed on cheap wine, sitting on a friend’s hardwood floor and shuffling through a random pile of books and puzzles looking for something to entertain me. This was before the “party game for horrible people” was omnipresent at department stores. The set we played with was printed out from the website and hand-cut into jagged, flimsy paper rectangles. At the time we enjoyed it for what we thought it was: an inappropriate novelty game meant to embarrass Grandma at a holiday gathering or entertain friends under the influence . We never could have imagined that six years later the cards would not only still exist but be evolving and thriving. Based on a 2013 interview with the Reader, it doesn’t seem like the creators thought it would get this far either.
Yet here we are, and what started as a group of eight college guys trying to commodify Hitler jokes has since turned into a multimillion-dollar company with a sense of purpose and an increasingly diverse writers’ room. They have their fingers on the pulse of not only what’s funny and relevant, but what less-than-PC phrases need to be weeded out from the original printable pile. Cards Against Humanity: Late Night Writers Room is a live show that puts faces to those new additions to the deck. At each performance audience members can pitch their best suggestions for cards. If the suggestions are good enough, Cards Against Humanity’s writers and improvisers will base a scene on them. If not, the cast will endlessly ridicule the idea until they inevitably come up with their own addition to a new expansion deck on the spot. The upcoming performances are each for a cause: on Friday, September 28, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago the group is partnering with State Matters to register people to vote, and the show on Friday, October 12 at Sleeping Village will feature real live puppies, with all proceeds going to Alive Rescue.
And there’s likely even more up Cards Against Humanity’s sleeve before the year comes to an end. The group’s notorious for grand gestures around the holidays, like last year’s purchase of a piece of land along the U.S.-Mexico border to help prevent Trump’s wall from being built. It’s nice to know that every time I play my favorite card, “David Bowie riding a tiger made of lightning,” I’m supporting a company working to make real change. v