Sunday, August 14, 2005

A man walks into a talent agency...

Thom and I saw The Aristocrats on Friday and I have to say that it is one of the most vile, disturbing, demented, and hilarious movies I've ever seen.

If you haven't heard about it yet, The Aristocrats is a documentary about a joke comics share between themselves as a kind of insider's handshake. The opening and punch line remain the same but the meat of the joke is completely open for improvisation--as long as it includes some riffing on bodily functions, incest, bestiality, or any other depraved act you can imagine.

The movie captures more than 80 comics telling their own disgusting version of a joke known as "The Aristocrats." The point of the joke, which is in itself not that funny, is to see how far you can take it, how much you can get away with, how inventive you can get. Can you say things that in another context might get you thrown out of a party or even tossed in jail?

My favorites included Bob Saget, whose squeaky clean image was a perfect counterpoint for the unbelievable filth that came out of his mouth, Sarah Silverman, whose sweet, personal reminisces of incest end in the best alternate punch line of the movie, and Kevin Pollak, whose superb impression of Christopher Walken's version of the joke made me weep to see it end.

I found some of the retellings tedious and not funny. And more than once I thought, Surely they can't make this joke any more disgusting, only to be regaled with another nightmare-inducing version. And, really, I'm not proud of myself for laughing at poop and sex jokes for an hour and a half.

And yet... I think there's more value to the movie than some of its critics would have you believe. Underneath the seemingly endless versions of The Aristocrats, the movie gives us an understanding of the anatomy of a joke, an insider's look at the pure joy of comics performing for each other, and a glimpse into the depraved depths to which their psyches plumb.

Still, I wouldn't take my mom to see it...

4 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Summer Ryan Doyle said...

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Crackpot Press said...

Perhaps the Walken version will be in his new Presidential Campaign.

Mom said...

What? I'm so confused?!
Mom