The Aristocrats Review
I hate that feeling you get when you've just told a joke that nobody really laughs at - it's almost as bad as when you have to force yourself to laugh at somebody else's joke when you are blatantly aware of the fact that either a) you didn't get the joke in the first place, or b) even if you did, you didn't actually find it funny. The same theory applies to comedies - how many people out there just did not laugh at Dodgeball? I personally thought it was hilarious, but I know others who just did not warm to it in the slightest bit. This release is a case in point.
The Aristocrats is a feature-length documentary about one single joke that, unfortunately, I did not find in the slightest bit funny. Over its ninety minute duration we see some hundred comedians each telling their own different variation of the same unspeakably obscene joke. The key to the joke is not the punch-line - that much is made clear from the outset - but actually in the telling. Each comedian offers their own take, altering the middle-part of the narrative in order to elaborate using their own sick imagination. Normally involving dwarves, lewd sexual conduct (often with animals) and a family of entertainers, there is simply nothing held back by these contributors.
I understand the whole concept behind this enterprise - the idea that the joke is not funny because of its anticlimactic punch-line, but instead because of the manner and depth of depravity explored during its telling but, frankly, enough is enough. After the first few minutes, there is simply no way left for the comedians to shock you, no boundaries left to cross and the rest becomes just tedious. At least from my perspective.
There are plenty of familiar faces on board (and some less so), but even if you don't recognise them for their stand-up routines, you are likely to remember them for bits parts in some film or another. From Robin Williams (Good Morning Vietnam), Hank Azaria (Huff) and Whoopi Goldberg (Ghost), to Seinfeld's Jason Alexander and Beverly Hills Cop's Paul Reiser, along with more well-renowned stand-up comics like Billy Connolly and Penn & Teller, the line-up just does not appear to end. Some of them might gain your attention, purely thanks to their energy and enthusiasm (South Park's Cartman is slightly better than some of the others) but it all boils down to the same thing: the telling of an extremely sick and pretty-much pointless joke. I don't care what religions, what beliefs, whatever is supposed to be offended (purposefully) by their words - this is not a parody like Team America, it does not utilise extreme expression to highlight something inherently wrong about a country, or about society itself, it just tries to offend every possible sensibility - just because it can. I'm not easily offended, but I do get bored after ninety minutes' of different people trying their hardest to offend me.