19 August 2005

Belated Review

Seen, but certainly not forgotten.

The Aristocrats: 3.5 Stars. Holy crap this movie is funny. Laugh out loud funny. Tears streaming down my face funny. Soil yourself funny. Note I said "yourself," not "myself." I'd been waiting to see this movie for months, and I wasn't disappointed a bit. It's a documentary, really, and I hope the Academy realizes its genius. The whole movie is about a joke. Just one joke with the titular punchline, "The Aristocrats". It's not even a very good joke, and I wouldn't spoil the movie by telling it, but I didn't want to know it before I saw the flick, and I assume anyone reading this wouldn't want to either. The true comedy in the joke is in its telling, which allows the comedian or comedienne to riff like Miles Davis on his horn. This joke has been an "inside joke" since the Catskill days, and the teller's job is to be as sick, disgusting, vulgar, and generally shocking as possible. Standard contents involve incest, bestiality, any and all bodily fluids, and various combinations thereof. The movie, directed by comedian Paul Provenza and magician Penn Jilette, is a ode to the joke. The directors talk to what must be 100 or so comics, each giving their own renditions of the joke. Only a few get to tell it straight through, though, since they edit in the best parts as well as commentary from the comic telling the joke. The centerpiece of the film was a very public telling of the joke by Gilbert Gottfried during a Hugh Hefner roast in New York City on Comedy Central right after 9/11. It was a legendary performance not so much for its rendition (which was spectacular), but for the injection of balls-to-the-wall, fall-down comedy into a room of people who desperately needed to laugh. My only complaint about the film is the editing, which was too back and forth for the viewer to actually get into the groove. I sincerely hope that they will have an expansive DVD version where I can see everyone tell their joke from beginning to end. Especially Gottfried's.

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