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The Aristocrats (Jan-2005)

Director: Paul Provenza

Music: Gary Stockdale

Producer: Peter Adam Golden

Keywords: Documentary

A dirty joke, told by a parade of name comedians. All tellings fit the same structure, with the Oreo center of the joke varying widely, but inevitably vulgar filth. The punchline never changes. They have done this as an in-joke among funny men for over a century; some relate the joke with infinite finesse, and others fail miserably and painfully. Brilliant film.

NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
Chris Albrecht
c. 1951   Former HBO Chairman and CEO
Jason Alexander
23-Sep-1959   George Costanza on Seinfeld
Hank Azaria
25-Apr-1964   Moe and Apu on The Simpsons
Shelley Berman
3-Feb-1925 1-Sep-2017 Inside Shelley Berman
Lewis Black
30-Aug-1948   Rants on The Daily Show
David Brenner
4-Feb-1936 15-Mar-2014 Guest on Tonight Show 158 times
Mario Cantone
9-Dec-1959   Laugh Whore
Drew Carey
23-May-1958   The Drew Carey Show
George Carlin
12-May-1937 22-Jun-2008 Seven Dirty Words
Carrot Top
25-Feb-1965   Prop-comic recycled for commercials
Billy Connolly
24-Nov-1942   Scottish comedian
Tim Conway
15-Dec-1933 14-May-2019 The Carol Burnett Show
Pat Cooper
31-Jul-1929   Our Hero
Andy Dick
21-Dec-1965   Matthew from NewsRadio
Phyllis Diller
17-Jul-1917 20-Aug-2012 The original female stand-up comic
Susie Essman
31-May-1955   Susie Greene on Curb Your Enthusiasm
Carrie Fisher
21-Oct-1956 27-Dec-2016 Princess Leia in Star Wars
Joe Franklin
Talk Show Host
9-Mar-1926 24-Jan-2015 Pioneer talk show host
Todd Glass
1964   Vintage Todd Glass and Other Crap
Judy Gold
15-Nov-1962   25 Questions for a Jewish Mother
Whoopi Goldberg
13-Nov-1955   Sister Act
Gilbert Gottfried
28-Feb-1955   Loudmouth Jewish comic
Eric Idle
29-Mar-1943   Monty Python
Eddie Izzard
7-Feb-1962   Bloke in a dress going on and on
Richard Jeni
14-Apr-1957 10-Mar-2007 A Big Steaming Pile of Me
Penn Jillette
5-Mar-1955   Talking half of the Penn and Teller duo
Paul Krassner
9-Apr-1932   Editor, The Realist
Lisa Lampanelli
19-Jul-1961   Insult Comic
Richard Lewis
29-Jun-1947   Such a nice young man
Bill Maher
Talk Show Host
20-Jan-1956   Politically Incorrect
Howie Mandel
29-Nov-1955   Host of Deal Or No Deal
Merrill Markoe
1951   Late Night with David Letterman
Jackie Martling
14-Feb-1949   Writer for Howard Stern
Michael McKean
17-Oct-1947   This Is Spinal Tap, SNL
Larry Miller
15-Oct-1953   Michael Dobson on Law & Order
Martin Mull
18-Aug-1943   Fernwood Tonight
Kevin Nealon
18-Nov-1953   Saturday Night Live
Taylor Negron
1-Aug-1958 11-Jan-2015 The Last Boy Scout
Rick Overton
10-Aug-1954   Earth Girls Are Easy
Gary Owens
Radio Personality
10-May-1936 12-Feb-2015 Radio DJ, announcer for Laugh-In
Trey Parker
19-Oct-1969   South Park
Emo Philips
7-Feb-1956   Excruciating comic
Kevin Pollak
30-Oct-1957   Host of Celebrity Poker
Paul Reiser
30-Mar-1957   Mad About You
Andy Richter
28-Oct-1966   Formerly controlled the universe
Don Rickles
8-May-1926 6-Apr-2017 Mr. Warmth
Chris Rock
7-Feb-1965   Everybody Hates Chris
Rita Rudner
17-Sep-1953   Naked Beneath My Clothes
Bob Saget
17-May-1956   America's Funniest Home Videos
Harry Shearer
23-Dec-1943   Almost half the voices on The Simpsons
Sarah Silverman
1-Dec-1970   The Sarah Silverman Program
Dick Smothers
20-Nov-1939   A Smothers Brother
Tommy Smothers
2-Feb-1937   A Smothers Brother
Doug Stanhope
25-Mar-1967   The Man Show
David Steinberg
9-Aug-1942   Second City alumnus
Jon Stewart
28-Nov-1962   Anchor, The Daily Show, 1999-2015
Matt Stone
26-May-1971   South Park
Larry Storch
8-Jan-1923   Corporal Agarn on F Troop
Rip Taylor
13-Jan-1934   Walking confetti fountain
14-Feb-1948   The nonspeaking half of Penn and Teller
Dave Thomas
20-May-1949   SCTV
Bruce Vilanch
23-Nov-1948   The fat guy who writes everyone's jokes
Fred Willard
18-Sep-1933   Fernwood 2night
Robin Williams
21-Jul-1951 11-Aug-2014 Mork from Ork
Steven Wright
6-Dec-1955   King of Wry


Review by TShepDogg (posted on 17-Sep-2005)

The Aristocrats is an explosive stream-of-conscious documentary that interviews many, many famous (as well as not-so-famous) comedians and writers, all of them talking about or telling one very filthy joke. The joke has been reprinted elsewhere and is not essential to this review; in and of itself terribly interesting or funny. At its most bare-bones level only takes about a minute to tell. Comedians, however, consider it to be excellent warm-up material, and have over the years delighted in telling it to one-another -- though never to their audiences, since as George Carlin observes, most comedians don't "tell jokes" per se -- each putting his or her own spin on the material, sometimes stretching it for over an hour, according to some writers in the film.

It's considered to be a trade secret of sorts, supposedly dating back to vaudeville, and is highly revered in the comedy world. The general rule is to try to crank up the filth and offensiveness with each telling, and much of the film is committed to recordings of various comedians themselves telling the joke. Themes touched upon in the various tellings include: human waste and eating human waste, oral sex, rape, (including brutally violent child rapes, specifically in versions by Paul Reiser and Bob Saget), incest, fisting, pedophelia, vomiting/consumption of vomit, jokes about victims of 9/11, and, in one case, the anal rape of a pregnant mother and the infant in her womb. There are also countless anti-Semitic, homophobic, racist and sexist jokes-within-the-joke. Several very unusual and entertaining versions are told, including one by a mime, one told entirely within an impersonation of Christopher Walken, one told by the characters of South Park, one using a magic act, one in a juggling act and one told using a deck of cards.

The comedians and writers involved, in addition to sometimes performing the joke, take the chance to hold forth on the implications of the joke. Why it's funny, why it can be funny, why jokes are funny, what the nature of a joke is, as well as some interesting dissections of the finer points of telling the joke. Chris Rock has some interesting thoughts about black comics' place in "dirty" comedy historically, and Phyllis Diller and Lisa Lampanelli talk about whether female comedians can get away with such jokes. One participant comments that Seinfeld is funny without using dirty language. By analyzying this one joke so thoroughly, the film peers into human nature, comedy and the nature of humor itself. Oh, and it's also very entertaining.

Review by anonymous (posted on 18-Mar-2006)

When did this cross the line from being a conversation between two middle school nerd boys in the bathroom to a great DVD rental? I mean, damn, growing up (I'm only 27 by the way) the people who made you laugh had talent. So lets get one thing straight, letting a word that would upset the Pope would fly for the purpose of making a lame story a riot is okay every once in a while. That being said... Damn! This movie was pure, 100%, grade "A", CRAP. I was shocked that TRUE comedians like Tim Conway and the Smothers Brothers even wasted their time to show up. Watch the movie a few times, it's not the language that pisses me off, it's the fact that people who are NOT funny try to stay alive by using it, just to have a rutine. Look at people like W.C. Fields, Steven Wright, and Brian Regan. These people are funny, they have talent and don't have to rely on shock value and a small vocabulary to get a laugh. Adults who don't want to raise their kids to yell and scream in a trailer park one day are showing their kids videos of classic comedians like them. Years down the road, there will be NEW Brian Regan fans and New W.C. Fields fans. What bothered me the most about this film made me so angry, I really wanted a public hanging. They just had to put Johnny Carson's name on it. Johnny had class, he would have told Penn and Teller to go hire Andrew Dice Clay. Johnny Carson would push it to the point of crossing the line and let your mind cross it for him. He never did it on his own. He was smart. That's what made him great. Thats why we all loved him. His comedy was well thought out, even on the spur of the moment. There is a shortage of comedians like Johnny Carson and the rest that have a system of morals and values. Thats why we all miss him. To me, this movie tried to tear down everything that Johnny taught the world about getting a TRUE LAUGH. Brent Womack

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