If ever there was a one-joke movie, this is surely it. But what a joke! Phyllis Diller claims she fainted when she first heard it, while rumor has it that Michael O'Donoghue once told the joke nonstop for 90 minutes at a party at Chevy Chase's house. Known as "The Aristocrats" and traditionally an inside joke in the comics' community, it always starts the same way — "A man walks into a talent agent's office..." — and ends with the same punch line: "The Aristocrats." What comes in between and how long the joke lasts is left to the discretion — or rather, indiscretion — of the teller, but any good version involves all known bodily fluids and every sexual perversity imaginable. That's why "The Aristocrats" is known as the "dirtiest joke ever told." More than one of the 100 comedians interviewed in this outrageously lewd documentary compares the joke to a jazz riff; the humor is in the variations, and comics make it their own by putting a unique spin on the basic material. Like "The Aristocrats" itself — which on paper really isn't all that funny, unless you've never read anything scrawled on a bathroom wall — the film becomes funnier as it goes along; each comic piles offense upon vile offense and explores the endless possibilities inherent in the setup. Shockingly, the funniest — and filthiest — raconteurs are Bob Saget (you'll never watch Full House or America's Funniest Home Videos the same way again) and Gilbert Gottfried, whose legendary rendition of "The Aristocrats" at a Friars Club roast for Hugh Hefner is captured here for all posterity. Andy Dick, meanwhile, clues us in to the meanings of such terms as "dirty Sanchez" and a "strawberry shortcake," while Andy Richter tells "The Aristocrats" to a baby. Funny, filthy stuff. But comedians-turned-filmmakers Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette's documentary is more than just the genealogy of a joke. It's a fascinating peek into the closed world of stand-up humorists past and present. Provenza and Jillette inexplicably decided not to identify any of their interviewees until the end, so unless you're a comedy-club regular you'll probably spend more time putting names to faces than listening to what they're saying. But if you stick around for those final credits, you'll also have the opportunity to hear Robin Williams deliver a clean but nonetheless hilarious joke, a reminder of how funny Williams can be when he's not trying so hard.
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- Released: 2005
- Rating: NR
- Review: If ever there was a one-joke movie, this is surely it. But what a joke! Phyllis Diller claims she fainted when she first heard it, while rumor has it that Michael O'Donoghue once told the joke nonstop for 90 minutes at a party at Chevy Chase's house. Known… (more)