I rented and watched The Aristocrats today. The Aristocrats, for those who haven't heard of this thing, is a documentary that Penn Jillette and Paul Provenza (both men pictured left) made and released in art-house theaters last year in which they filmed dozens of well-known stand-up comedians telling their version of a joke called 'The Aristocrats'. The Aristocrats is the name of a joke comedians supposedly tell other comedians to impress them with their crudity and creativity and to demonstrate one's "chops". The joke is simple and allows comedians plenty o' room to improvise the most lurid, disgusting acts they can think of. The set up is essentially this: A family walks into a Vaudeville agent's office and says, "I've got a family act for you." The agent says, "Ok, let me see what you got." The family then performs their "act" which is, by necessity, the most disgusting, most depraved "performance" ever perpetrated by human beings in the long and storied history of Homo Sapiens. Scatology, incest, bestiality, and senseless, horrific violence (among other things) are all thrown in to make for an epic poem of filth, raunch, and illegal acts. Essentially the abridged works of the Marquis de Sade. When the abomination is completed, the agent asks, inexplicably, "What do you call that?" The patriarch proudly answers, with a little flourish (which Penn and Provenza are demonstrating in the photo), "The Aristocrats!" It's one of those jokes that isn't really about the punchline, but the set-up.
It's about an hour and ten minutes long, and that's a long time to spend hearing one joke over and over, but what's great about The Aristocrats is that as soon as you're getting bored with the one joke of this one-joke movie (and it is sort of an amazing process, getting numb to the sick sick stuff these guys come up with), one comedian will show up and tell it in such a fresh way that it's funny all over again. Bob Saget does a brilliant version that goes on forever, but you don't mind because you just want to see where his mind's going to take the depravity next, Sarah Silverman does a very high-concept, meta-version of the joke that was pretty funny (and which ends with a line that, I think, has gotten her sued by a guy named Joe Franklin), and Kevin Pollack does a version as Christopher Walken that, and I'm not even kidding, almost killed me. What's interesting is how much this joke reveals about the teller of the joke. You can really gauge how perverted and whacked-out a person is by how over-the-top they get telling this thing. If the guy starts to wax poetic about interfamilial gun violence and the amorous pleasure to be derived from the results of that gun violence, (which is brought up a couple of times in the movie), than you know this is not a person you want anywhere near you or your loved ones.
Anywho, if you are in any way related to either me or Peggy, do NOT rent this movie, (and if you do, don't tell me about it because I warned you, and if you DO see it and LIKE it, I also do not want to hear about it). But if you're anyone else, and you're male, I definitely reccomend checking it out. It came out on Tuesday and is available to rent at all not-long-for-the-world Blockbuster stores. That's all for today. More Inanity goodness tomorrow. I know you all can't wait.