The Aristocrats

The Aristocrats (2005) movie poster

(2005) dir. Paul Provenza
viewed: 01/27/06

A 90 minute documentary about a joke that when told succinctly, only takes a minute to convey. Though comedians brag about stretching the joke out for hours and riffing on it like jazz musicians, it really is a pretty straightforward joke. There is something here about comedians riffing and making stuff up, but for the most part, all they are doing is trying to make the joke about as disgusting as possible. And while at the beginning of the film, one senses a lot of variability, ultimately it’s just varying expletives, sexual and scatalogical references, incest, bestiality, and whatnot to the extent that in the end, it just seems entirely tedius.

Through the film, you only hear one or two comedians deliver the joke in natural time. Most are interspersed, chopped up and edited together, even edited down for time, taking away timing and other things one might think would be significant to delivering the joke. (Though, I am not suggesting that anyone would want to actually hear 100 versions of the same joke in 90 minutes anyways). Even the Gilbert Gottfried version from the Hugh Hefner Friars’ Roast, which many of the comedians in the film point to as a totally classic telling of the joke, is only given in spurts and pieces.

There is a plethora of talented folks interviewed here, but the film is poorly chopped together and really unsatisfying. What interesting things could be gleaned are closer to the core material than to the way that it is presented or the commentary there put upon it. Pretty lame, actually.

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