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Thursday, July 28, 2005
What did I do last night? Oh, that's right, I saw a free screening of THE ARISTOCRATS.

If you're unfamiliar, it's a documentary about an old comedy insider's joke, which is almost all set-up, and should be as offensive as possible. The Observer has done a few good articles on it (and one of their writers, Frank DiGiacomo, is featured in the film), but it being The Observer, I can't find actual links to their articles for the life of me, so try here. At the end you'll find a link to South Park's version of the joke, and it's really, really, really, really funny. You can also get a good sense of the movie by going to its homepage (linked above) and clicking on "Soundboard," where you should be able to get a feel for the level of obscenity involved.

How was it? Well, while it could've easily fallen flat, given that it's a documentary about a single joke, it worked amazingly well. It had a few slow spots, and they perhaps should have been more discerning in both their choice of film quality and camera operators, they really explored a lot of interesting aspects of comedy in general with this joke as a frame, as well as paced it in a way that kept you continuously interested. I went in wondering if it was just going to be a compilation of a bunch of comedians telling their version of the joke and how that could possibly work as a movie, I left wishing they had explored certain aspects even more.

There are a lot of fine comedians in it, including Lewis Black, Paul Reiser, Sarah Silverman, Steven Wright, and George Carlin, who starts off the whole thing, gives a great take on the joke, and has a lot of typically astute things to say about it. There are also comedians you might not have thought of as fine who come out really well, and while you could talk about Howie Mandel and Gilbert Gottfried, it's maybe best to talk about Bob Saget, who casually comes up with an obscenity I had never heard before, and I'm pretty sure that's the nicest thing I can say about someone.

So please, go see it. I'm going to go again myself, quite frankly. It's a fantastic movie, intermittently brilliant and constantly hilarious, and I'd love to discuss.

UPDATE: Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. A.O. Scott:

"The Aristocrats" is - how shall I put it? - an essay film, a work of painstaking and penetrating scholarship, and, as such, one of the most original and rigorous pieces of criticism in any medium I have encountered in quite some time.
Oh yes.