What I want you to know. Which is everything.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Aristocrats

The Aristocrats was interesting. If you haven't heard of this movie it is a documentary about a joke. Yes, one joke. This joke lives on in the stand up community as one of those inside things that every comedian tells a different version of. The main reason that this joke is almost strictly "inside" and is never included in someone's act is that it is so dirty that even the most crass comedians stay away from it. In fact, the joke isn't even that funny, but the fun is in seeing how offensive a comedian can become with it.

Being an open minded kind of person with self-professed thick skin I thought, "How bad can this joke be? It can't be much worse than the disgusting filth that gets played on HBO and Comedy Central." I mean, even if a comedian is on basic cable getting bleeped every other line we still get some pretty filthy stuff being pumped into our living rooms. I'm no prude, and these offensive topics rarely phase me. Usually, as in the case of Drawn Together, probably the most offensive show on T.V., I'm more offended at the fact that the show sucks and exists soley on the toilet humor that attracts junior high kids with neglectful parents. But, trust me, the joke does not disapoint. It is extremely filthy. Depending on what comedian is telling the joke the offense can run from simply a disturbing visual to borderline illeagal. Let me go ahead and give you the gist of the joke. I will attempt to do this delicately for I know that my readers have human decency, something that most versions of this joke do not have.

A man walks into a talent agency and claims to have an amazing new act. It is a family act. The talent agent agrees to see the act. The man brings in the family and the act begins. This is where each teller of the joke peppers the act will all kinds of indecencies that I will not repeat on this blog. The point of this joke differs from most in that it is not intended to be funny, unless you find the shock of the digustingness of it funny, which, at times, it was. The joke is simply meant to be disgusting. It is the ultimate joke that comedians tell when they know that the other comedians in the room will not hold it against them for saying all kinds of horrible things. They cannot tell this joke to a paying audience. It would surely offend the most objectionable audiences. It offended me, and that is hard to do. But you have to keep telling yourself, "These comedians don't condone the kinds of things they are talking about, but are only carrying on a long tradition of shock humor and immoral ideas that shall never see the light of day." Many of the comedians even commented that they couldn't believe they were telling the joke on camera. One comedian quipped, "Well, I'll never get to work for Disney again."

So while the individual comedian comes up with varying acts of unspeakable nature upon unspeakable nature the listener (granted the listener hasn't walked away, yet) is expecting some grand punch line to cap off the story. So the talent agent says "Well, that certainly is some act!" or "That was horrible!" or "I've never seen anything like that!" or something else, but always finishes with "What do you call it?" And the man says, "The Aristocrats!" The name of the joke is purposefully anti-clamactic for a number of reasons, which you may explore on your own. Needless to say, a sensible audience would find this joke horribly offensive and not all that funny. But, comedians don't tell it to sensible audiences, they tell it to themselves. It is almost a game to see who can be the grossest, the most inhumane and anti-social, and many times who can draw it out the longest.

The movie will be interesting to those who might be interested in the inner-sanctum of the stand-up comedian. Watching Bob Saggat swear and speak of all kinds of vagrancies would be worth it enough for some. But, other than people who already have a fairly sick sense of humor anyway, this movie is not going to be appreciated or enjoyed by many people. I read one review that says that the telling became old after a while and I have to agree. We get accustomed to the degretancy spewing from the comedians and it becomes a simply inside look into what they do when they're drunk and want to make each other laugh. Personally, I'm at least intrigued but I can hardly believe that a whole lot of others are.

2.5 bulls out of 5


ML said...

I read this blog to your dad. I said that I was mildly interested in seeing it and he says, "na." So I guess we'll just read this blog and know we might be offended and stay away. So thank you for the Heads Up.


Jason said...


That movie has been on my iPod for almost two months now. I just haven't gotten around to watching it yet. I guess I've had a morbid curiosity about what the joke is, but I thought I'd save it until I watched the movie.

Then here comes Kyle, blurting it out! Thankfully, you telegraphed your telling of it, so I was able to skip the two paragraphs containing the joke. Now, I'll have to watch the movie this weekend so I can return to your blog!

Kyle said...

Jason, it's not a spoiler to tell the joke. That's why I told it. It doesn't matter what the joke is. The joke is only slightly funny, at best.

The point is the telling and retelling of it and the varying versions.