The Shapiro Files

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Netflix Weekend Wrap-Up #4

Previous installments: #1, #2, #3

Due to a pretty packed schedule, I only got around to watching one Netflix DVD this past weekend:

The Aristocrats (2005) - Let me say right off the bat that I cannot safely recommend this film to anyone. If you're reading this, odds are you will hate this film. That much said, I found it to be an impressive, occasionally enlightening, and often hilarious little documentary about comedy and comedians. The subtitle of this film says it all: "100 Comedians. One Very Dirty Joke." For many decades, "The Aristocrats" has been the punchline to a joke told backstage and at parties between comedians, but seldom ever on stage. The joke's set-up/punchline is pretty lame, but what makes this particular joke so interesting is what the tellers do in-between. It's during that middle section that comedians can improvise to their heart's content (just like what great jazz musicians do in the middle of a song). And given this is an exercise mostly between comedians, this means being more disgusting and offensive than most people can imagine. Absolutely nothing is off-limits. Somewhere in that madness lies comic genius.

Not to be confused in any way with the 1970 Disney film The Aristocats, this film features a whole bunch of comedians, humorists, and actors (I'm not sure there really were a 100, but it's close) discussing the joke and/or telling it in their own unique way and in the process, revealing quite a bit about the nature of comedy. It's not a perfect film (the editing is a bit excessive and given the nature of the film, not all the featured comedians are equally as talented), but it's a wonderful celebration of free speech and the human ability to find humor in any topic, no matter how shocking. My Netflix rating: 4 stars


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