Worth A Look: 32.98%
Just Average: 8.51%
Pretty Crappy: 7.45%
11 reviews, 28 user ratings
This is a shoddy piece of crap. The filmmakers try to use lots of annoying fast cutting to conceal the fact that most of their footage is cruddy, inconsequential slop, owing to the fact that the “performers” aren’t even performing – they’re just rambling.In case you haven’t already heard, “The Aristocrats” is a dirty joke that has circulated throughout the comedy world for ages. The structure of the joke basically gives the teller free reign to attack their listener with whatever over-the-top, gross-out, scatological and/or sexually deviant scenario he or she feels inclined to invent, typically on the spur of the moment. It’s nothing we all haven’t done during our early adolescence.
"This is a shoddy piece of crap."
For professional comics, it’s an opportunity to run completely wild and free. The results are so disgusting and transparently childish that it is seldom performed in public. Besides which, the “joke” itself isn’t really that funny. Rather, it is a routine to be played with backstage or at private parties, between fellow performers and associates. For this reason the general public has been largely unaware of its existence.
There is no question that the Aristocrats joke offers a unique glimpse behind the veil of professional comedy. Free from any pretense of subtlety, each performer reveals the gamut of his or her own peculiar, perverted fascinations, which normally lurk below the surface of their craft. It’s like a taste of the pure fire-water that is normally concealed within a carefully refined cocktail. A movie which gathers together the great comics of the age to tell the joke, or variations; to riff on its possibilities; to reminisce and analyze, is not a bad idea at all. Of course, the joke is adults-only stuff, and there are plenty of grown-ups likely to find it offensive. Let’s face it, some, if not most, of the activities described herein would be illegal to depict even in the raunchiest porno flick. But the Aristocrats joke itself is a real part of out cultural heritage.
Of far less cultural importance is this junky movie. The problem is not the concept, it’s the execution. The performers don’t tell the joke so much as they flaccidly give an idea of how they would tell it. For the most part, they make little or no effort to sell the material, to make it convincing or captivating. It’s as if some giggly wannabe merely cornered them with a video camera and said “tell or talk about the Aristocrats Joke”, giving them no preparation or incentive to do a good job.
Since the resulting footage was mostly crap, they edited it together MTV style, cutting, cutting, cutting between little bits and pieces of performers spewing filth, laughing in the middle of their routines or making the same contrite observations. From most performers, we only get a few snippets of the joke, if that. In any case, the editing destroys any vestige of comedic timing, the only thing that really makes the joke funny in the first place.
Supposedly, we are being given the opportunity to see each comic revealed as never before, with a unique chance to compare and contrast their personalities, and to appreciate their performing styles as if through an X-ray machine. But by taking out the pauses, the lapses, the flubs and the bombs, and otherwise chopping the performances to bits, the filmmakers have concealed most everything of value and left us with little more than a lot of deviant excesses, four-letter words and isolated bits of twaddle.
There are a few noteworthy exceptions. George Carlin and Steven Wright at least provide complete and coherent versions of the joke. There’s a South Park version, which is the only professionally prepared and finished material in this whole mess, outside of the theme music heard at the end. Sarah Silverman does a wicked funny riff on the idea. She’s improvising, but she’s committed to doing it right and gives us a legible story, believable character and flawless timing. Stealing the show is Gilbert Gottfried who points out the logical shortcomings of the joke mid-movie, in his trademark manic style. The capstone of the film is footage where he actually performs the joke onstage at a Friar’s Club roast. But we only see shreds of it, as the editors keep cutting away to other comics talking about how great his performance was.One complete routine by any one of the performers embarrassing themselves here would net you ten times the laughs and insight into comedy than this piece of garbage. My advice is that you have a get-together with your closest friends and tell the damn thing yourselves. It will be much more fun that way.
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originally posted: 08/13/05 14:42:59
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