- Paul Provenza
- Reviewed by
- Josť Ruiloba a.k.a. Morris
- Review date
- Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Director Paul Provenza set out to interview just about every stand-up comedian out there about a joke that is legendary among their elite. The joke starts (usually) with a man going to an agent and telling him about this amazing act that his family does. The agent then tells him to describe (or show) the act. What follows here depends on the person who is telling the joke, but it may contain unspeakable acts of incest, deranged sexual acts, bestiality, vomiting, bleeding, eating of feces, urine, you get the point. When the man finishes describing the act to the perplexed agent, the latter asks the name of the act, to which the man playfully responds: ďThe AristocratsĒ.
As you can see, it is a very silly, not to say stupid, joke. The meat of the joke is not the punchline but rather the middle part. A lot of people donít get this and assume they have to laugh at the end, but thatís not the case. So it can also be considered a joke that people donít get or that some people regard as offending. So why tell it? Oh, because it can get really funny.
As I said before, that depends on the person telling the joke, Ďcause the variants are infinite. It also depends on how much they are willing to cross the line. Men and women tell it differently. Some just go for the scatological humor, others for the sexual. And, truth be told, some people are just not funny while doing it, whilst others are hilarious.
That takes me to the next, and pivotal, point: this documentary sure is interesting, but it can also be a drag. The gimmick is to interview as many people as possible about the joke, and some of them even go on and tell it. But among the dozens and dozens of interviewees I can name only 11 that made me laugh out loud. And Iím not that difficult regarding any type of comedy, Iím easy! So that means that I got a kick out of the documentary for its interesting concept and for these people who did work for me. And then?
These 11 people are: Martin Mull (who tells it as a variant of the ďkiki jokeĒ), Billy the Mime (completely silent), Mario Cantone, George Carlin, Phyllis Diller, Todd Glass, Eric Mead (who uses cards), Kevin Pollak (doing an impression of Christopher Walken), Gregg Rogell, Jon Ross and Doug Stanhope (who uses a baby, maybe his son, for comedic effect).
Other people in the doc include: Jason Alexander, Hank Azaria, Lewis Black, Drew Carey, Billy Connolly, Pat Cooper, Andy Dick, Carrie Fisher, Whoopi Goldberg, Eddie Izzard, Bill Maher, Larry Miller, Paul Reiser, Andy Richter, Don Rickles, Chris Rock, Bob Saget, Harry Shearer, Sarah, Silverman, Jon Stewart, Carrot Top, Fred Willard, Robin Williams and many, many more.
Gilbert Gottfried gets a lot of screen time because he once told the joke at a Hugh Hefner event just weeks after the 9/11 attacks and totally killed. The timing was odd, people were scared, and suddenly this guy started telling the joke and everyone just let go. It is commonly regarded as one of the best narrations of a joke ever. And yetÖ I didnít get it. Gottfried certainly does not know about subtlety (his voice!) and the joke was funny, but all the profanities he said had been already told, and surpassed, by other people in the documentary. I guess it was a case of being in the right place at the right moment, but watching the performance here wasnít as fun as it must have been that day.
Otherwise, Iím glad I watched this documentary, and Iím glad someone had the idea to make it. Itís certainly wacky and odd and Iíve got to say that it also works in the way it says a lot about who you are depending on your reaction. Am I bitter? Maybe just cynical. But I repeat: Iím also easy!
CriticSociety en Twitter | CriticSociety en Facebook
Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter