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This week:
The Aristocrats

Filthy says:
"Funny, filthy shit"

The Aristocrats is fucking filthy. It's as foul, crusty and rank as the crotch of a overused middle-aged whore in the desert. It's just a God damn nasty movie. And everything this nasty--the Tavern Harelip singing karaoke and those DVDs of retards humping vegetables--has its charms.

The movie is a documentary, but it's not a narrative. It doesn't tell a story, just a joke. Actually, dozens of comics tell the same joke, called The Aristocrats. The gag is really a framework: a premise and a punchline. The comic fills in the middle. It goes something like this:

A man walks into a talent agency with his family and says, "I have an act I'd like you to see." The agent says, "What sort of act?" "A family act. It's my wife, me, our two children and our dog."

The comic describes the family's act which invariably includes many of the following: dog-fucking, motherfucking, dadfucking, child-on-child anal intercourse, ass-licking, vomiting, shitting on a stage, pissing on a stage, shitting on other people you hate, shitting on people you like, shitting on the audience regardless of your opinion of them, pissing on yourself, dirty sanchezes, a rusty trombone, nipple clamps, electroshock, ass reaming with corn, shitting into an open mouth, vomiting up shit, the French Monkey, pounding a cock until it's flat, fucking an eyesocket, breaking bones, sadistic spanking, Detroit Lassoes, bleeding, used tampons sticking to walls, deep tissue bruises, slicing open nutsacks, splintering thin glass tubes in urethras, come splattering every body part and orifice, splooge on office furniture, wallowing in shit, dancing in diarrhea, pissing into someone's ear until his brain turns yellow and urine dribbles out his mouth, playing a vagina's lips like vibrating paper in a breeze, squeezing kneecaps from the sides until they split, dog-fucking but pulling out before coming, so you can force a child to eat the come, washing open sores with acetone, dressing as Hitler, undressing as Eva Braun, setting yourself on fire, playing for the Kansas City Royals, snaking soapy pubic hair out of a drain with your dick, watersports, extreme watersports. And then some really filthy shit, too.

The agent, somewhat stunned says, "That's certainly interesting. Tell me, what do you call your act?"

With a flourish, the man replies, "The Aristocrats!"

Very few people outside of the green rooms at comedy clubs have ever heard the joke. That's because it's a Catskills-style setup-middle-punchline joke that today's comedians don't really tell much. It's more like something that Milton Berle might tell, and probably did while whipping out his massive dick. It's a joke that comics tell each other while waiting to go on, trying to be as vulgar and disgusting as possible with the middle section.

The intent is, well, I don't fucking know. I've got no clue why people think being vulgar is so funny. I sure as fuck don't. I think it's tacky as hell. Is it shock? Surprise? Or perhaps it tickles every man's deep-seated desires to split open a human skull and shit on a brain. I know that sort of crass comedy sickens me. So childish.

But The Aristocrats is a celebration of the joke, hearing how each comic heard it and how each retells it. Some are competitive, like Bob Saget, and have to tell the absolutely most disgusting version they can imagine. Others, like the staff of The Onion are pompous blowhards who take the opportunity not to amuse but to act like some sort of comic authorities who do the absolute least funny thing you can do with a a joke, and that is break it down and discuss, with much chin-stroking, what makes it funny. Just telling the fucking joke, assholes, and make it funny. Holy shit, I really like The Onion but the writers are dickweeds in person.

That's the fault of the filmmakers Penn Jillette and Paul Provenza, though, for using a grab bag of comics and non-comics to talk about the joke. Some aren't funny, some are deadly funny, and some don't even want to tell the joke. Billy Connolly looks really drunk, the Smothers Brothers reminded me that they've always been funny. I remembered what a pretentious turd Penn Jillette is and how fucking tired his and Art Teller's gimmick is. Gilbert Gottfried reminded me that he can be funny in small doses, and Jon Stewart looks embarrassed by it all.

The movie is all shot with what appears to be a Fisher-Price My First Video Camera. The sound and framing are as low budget and amateurish as Yemeni porn. Which is all right because this is just talking heads. But then Jillette and Provenza hired four-year olds to edit it as artlessly and spastically as possible. The funny part of the joke is in how extended and vulgar the teller can be. The movie should feature uncensored tellings, but the movie has more cuts that a teen goth girl's forearm. They're excessive and distracting, like a monkey aping MTV. Not a single comic gets to tell The Aristocrats from beginning to end without some sort of disruption, and that suggests to me that Jillette and Provenza don't have faith in the joke themselves.

I don't know if there is some more profound reason for this movie than just to be funny. It's not really revealing anything about comics except how fucking filthy they can be. And how funny some can be. The movie is best when they are telling jokes, and most unwatchable when they're waxing philosophic. But if the intent was to be hilarious, I would have cut out half of the hacks in here and found some fresher talent. Phyllis Diller is awesome because she's so fucking old and still so willing to lay it out for the gag. But Don Rickles isn't served well here, neither is the self-absorbed Richard Jeni and the D-list comics like Todd Glass and Taylor Negron. They just seem to be inthe movie because they know someone. My point is that not everyone deserves equal time. If Provenza and Jilette wanted to make a great movie, rather than a decent flick featuring their cronies, they could have looked a little harder for talent.

Three Fingers for The Aristocrats. It's dirty enough, just not as funny or as selective as it could have been.

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Peter Hammond of Maxim

The 40-Year-Old Virgin is "Outrageously hilarious! The sleeper hit of the summer. An unexpectedly smart comedy!"

Four Brothers "Arrives just in time to turn the summer heat way up! An explosive action-drama with a top-notch cast that ignites the screen!"

Filthy's Reading
Andy Bellin - Poker Nation

Listening to
Velvet Underground- Peel Slowly and See


The Aristocats