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Definitely Not The Aristocats

I watch a lot of comedy concerts. I like Eddie Izzard, Chris Rock, Margaret Cho and Dave Chapelle. I started out watching Richard Pryor and George Carlin when I was a kid.

I don't mind adult subject matter in my comedy. But I was completely unprepared for the unabated raunch and perversity in The Aristocrats. Even after reading the reviews and knowing that it's slogan was "No Nudity No Violence Unspeakable Obscenity", it surpassed my capacity for imagining the level of lewd and scatological joke-telling presented in this film.

I did spend a good portion of the film with my mouth hanging open at what these comedians had going on during their renditions of the joke while at other times I was laughing until I cried. This movie is worth seeing because it examines what's funny by pushing the art of joke-telling to its limits as you hear the same joke told repeatedly, with intriguing yet shocking variations, by some of the funniest people in show business.

"This is a documentary about a joke. It is a joke only told by comedians to other comedians. The outline of the joke is that a man goes into an agent's office and says he has a family act. He then either acts out or describes the most obscene acts possible. The stunned agent says, "And what do you call yourselves?" and the man answers, "The Aristocrats."

Each comedian describes how he tells the story. Each is different, each tries to get an element of surprise out of their listeners, who are assumed to be other comedians. The joke is told in parts. It is told in reverse order, by men and by women. Each finds a way to make the joke his or her own.

The genesis of the documentary was when Gilbert Gottfried performed at the Hugh Hefner roast three weeks after the 9/11 attacks. Everyone was almost afraid to laugh and Gottfried came on second after the first act had bombed. Gottfried told a highly obscene version of the joke that totally broke up the audience. It was never telecast, but changed the whole tone of the evening. Penn Jillette produced the movie as a documentary on the joke every comedian knows but never tells on stage."



( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 23rd, 2006 05:47 pm (UTC)
I am so going to rent that this weekend, thanks!!
Mar. 23rd, 2006 08:14 pm (UTC)
I look forward to your reaction!
Mar. 23rd, 2006 07:17 pm (UTC)
Undine & I saw this at CineHell ---- in it's first week, and we were the ONLY two people in the cinema. Which was just as well, because we laughed so damned hard!

Gilbert Gottfried was a riot, but for me Sarah Silverman had me on the floor in convulsions.

I was surprised George Carlin was such a good teacher, giving perspective on the joke and how it plays on all of us.

It also reconfirmed for us that Bob Saget will never ever ever everEVERever be funny. He could't be funny if he were the last comedienne on Earth. Why other artists enjoy his work is beyond us.
Mar. 23rd, 2006 08:16 pm (UTC)
Sarah Silverman never makes me laugh but she did in this one. And Gilbert was great! And you are so right about Saget. He is just not ever funny. He sucks it.
Mar. 24th, 2006 08:08 am (UTC)
I've never minded raunchy humor, either. I do mind when it's just there to shock, and isn't really funny. This film sounds more about pushing the boundaries and still being funny, not just shock value.
Mar. 24th, 2006 03:22 pm (UTC)
The aspect I really loved, besides the gut busting moments, was the analysis of joke telling along with the history of the joke.
Mar. 24th, 2006 08:19 am (UTC)
After reading the first few lines of this I was kinda worried you were completely repulsed and offended. (I was only partially repulsed and offended... mostly by the jokes told by the guy with dummy on his knee. I mean... bullet holes and curling irons?!) I laughed a lot and threw up in my mouth a lot too. Interesting combinaion.
Mar. 24th, 2006 03:24 pm (UTC)
I always find ventriloquist acts odd and this one was no exception. And the dummy creeped me out! It looked like an art project gone horribly wrong.
Mar. 24th, 2006 05:32 pm (UTC)
I've been looking forward to this one for quite awhile. Now that I know its out I may have to bump it up on my queue on Netflix.
Mar. 24th, 2006 05:41 pm (UTC)
We were very anxious to check it out. I can't wait to hear what you think. (Did you really have to sit in the backseat because of a certain pooch today?)
Mar. 24th, 2006 06:34 pm (UTC)
Ha! Word spreads fast, huh? No, poochy got the back seat and I got the front. :)
Mar. 24th, 2006 06:40 pm (UTC)
I'm glad that pooch got the boot. But I was not happy to hear that poor poochy spends a lot of time hanging out in the car.
Mar. 25th, 2006 07:14 am (UTC)
She seems to think she's happier there. I'm sure the dog loves to ride in the car.. but stay there, I don't know. The good thing is that whenever it does happen she does go out and bring her fresh water and let her use the bathroom once every few hours.
Mar. 25th, 2006 05:15 pm (UTC)
What kind of dog is it? My source couldn't remember.
Mar. 26th, 2006 07:05 am (UTC)
mostly poodle I think, but definitely a mix. She's fairly small.
Mar. 26th, 2006 07:06 am (UTC)
mostly poodle, but definitely a mix. fairly small in size (if you saw that other comment, its because I forgot I'm on J's computer right now)
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )


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