Comedy veterans and co-creators Penn Jillette and Paul Provenza capitalize on their insider status and invite over 100 of their closest friends--who happen to be some of the biggest names in entertainment, from George Carlin, Whoopi Goldberg and Drew Carey to Gilbert Gottfried, Bob Saget, Paul Reiser and Sarah Silverman--to reminisce, analyze, deconstruct and deliver their own versions of the world's dirtiest joke, an old burlesque too extreme to be performed in public, called "The Aristocrats." Written by
Sujit R. Varma
This joke has been used by comedians for years as a mental stretching exercise. They would tell the joke to each other as a warm up for their acts. While the setup and punchline remain the same throughout, the middle section, describing the actual family act, is always varied to get the juices going by throwing in the most they can and keeping it funny. There are stories of parties where performers will jam and keep it going for almost an hour. See more »
The joke leads me down one path and then it switches the path on me suddenly and hits me with a hammer. It's just, "Here we go folks."
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After the credits, this appears on screen: "Now that you know the joke - keep it alive, spread it around. It's easy. 'A guy goes into a talent agent's office...' All you have to remember is ONE word." Then, Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette are standing among a group of goats and say "Aristocrats!" while doing the hand flourish that Drew Carey invented. See more »
This is a fact admitted at several points through this film. And it's an important thing to bear in mind when considering the film, because the film is not the joke. The film is *about* the joke. It's a documentary. It deals with far more light-hearted matter than the average documentary, but it's a documentary nonetheless. Yes, the joke is told frequently and in various ways throughout the film. But in and of themselves, only about four incarnations of the joke are worthwhile. Billy The Mime's version is inspired, the guy who does it with playing cards is clever, Gilbert Gottfried's is a masterpiece of saying precisely the wrong thing at the right time, and Sarah Silverman's first-person rendition lies perfectly between deadpan hilarity and abject horror.
The value of the film lies in the story of the joke. And in this regard, it stands as one of the funniest films ever made. The joke isn't something to be told at the dinner table. It's a challenge, told by comedians to comedians. And this is where the hundred or so comedians in this film come in, to tell us their own stories and experiences about the inception and reception of it - and of course, to do this it becomes necessary for one or two of them to provide their own interpretations. And so it goes on.
As a comedy, it's not that funny; it is, in a very literal sense, a one-joke movie. As a documentary, it's genius.
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