Thursday, February 03, 2005


There's a new movie that premiered at Sundance (and will be shown again at Aspen) called "Aristocrats," filmed, edited, etc. by Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette. Here's the premise of the film:

There's an old joke that's been passed down from comedian to comedian. The joke, which you've probably heard at some point, goes like this:

A family goes into an agents office, saying, "We have an act we'd like to show you." The agent says he's not interested in family acts, but why don't you show me anyway. At which point, the family engages in something horrible. The agent says, "Boy, that was something, what do you call the act?" And the Dad says, "The Aristocrats."
I was being vague there, and the reason is this. Penn & Paul went around, asking famous comedians to tell that joke, and that's the whole movie. Over and over again. For about 90 minutes. One joke.

However, the vague part in the middle? That's where the joke gets interesting. Every comedian tells it in his own way, elaborating, or going in different directions depending on how they remember or have told it over the years.

Personally? I'm chomping at the bit to see this movie. I think it sounds great, but then I'm also in love with the process making comedy, so there you are then.

Here's an article from the Washington Post about the film.

And here's the joke, from the film, told by the South Park kids, which should NOT be opened at work. Unless you're wearing headphones, I guess. Or no one is around. Or you want to get fired.

Via Dead-Frog.


christopher said...

Um. I don't get it?

Alex said...

Its a non-sequitor, almost. Basically, the point of the joke is the middle part, to see how you can out dirty someone else's telling of the joke. The punchline is supposed to be a contrast... If you watch the South Park clip, you'll see that the act is basically the family having sex with each other in a very depraved way. To then call the act, "The Aristcrats," is a direct opposite of the actual content of the act.

The punchline isn't that funny, which is why, I think, its safe to title the film that. Its the content that matters.

christopher said...

I get it now!

Alex said...

Jokes: Funnier when you explain them since 1913.

Anonymous said...

Considering all the inbreeding in the old aristocracy (hemophilia for all!), I thought it was a pretty good punchline, not a non sequitur.

Alex said...

Non-sequitor was the wrong word to use there, you're right... But the joke can have absolutely nothing to do with incest/inbreeding, so I think its just a case of assigning high status to something that's low status.