Go see it!!!
It’s laugh-out-loud funny. Although, I suspect that different people will laugh at different moments.
Superficially, it’s a documentary about a dirty joke. It’s been told for many years, but mostly just among comedians. The joke involves the description (or presentation) of a “family act” to a talent agent. The act itself involves tremendous obscenity, and the details can change with each telling. When the dumbfounded talent agent asks what the act is called he’s told “The Aristocrats”.
It’s not a funny joke in itself. It has a minor humorous element of the outrageous incongruity between the contents of the act and the title, but that’s not really very funny. It’s really a meta-joke. What’s funny is the way the joke is told; the creativity of the comedian trying to be as outrageously obscene as he can without getting boring; the fact that he’s actually saying these things out loud and they’re making you (and others) laugh, etc.
But the movie isn’t really about the joke.
The movie is really about comics. It’s great to watch and listen to these geniuses who understand the human condition and how to manipulate people’s emotions and expectations as well as any novelist.
The performers are fantastic. Follow the link above to see their names.
Like many others, I have to take particular notice of Gilbert Gottfried who told a version of the joke at a Friar’s Club roast of Hugh Hefner shortly after 9/11. When his original 9/11 oriented joke was met with disapproval (“Too Soon!”), instead of backing down and becoming milder he launched into “The Aristocrats” and had the crowd (mostly comedians) rolling. It showed that tapping into this deep area of consciousness, where we try to protect ourselves from our fears, can bring us together in powerful ways.
I can’t wait to buy the DVD, which I understand will have a lot of footage that had to be edited out of the film.
P.S. If you’re not sure if you can handle the joke, you might want to check out this South Park version of the joke which is in the movie and is about as obscene as any version there. If you can appreciate it, then you’ll love the movie.