It’s The Aristocrats!

Anyone who really wants to understand the psyche of the stand-up comedian, the process of constructing a stand-up set and the business behind the show business — well, you should see the 2002 documentary Comedian. That movie is full of insight. The Aristocrats, on the other hand, exists more as a way to turn what inherently is a subjective form of entertainment — what you think is funny isn’t what everyone else thinks is funny — into something more scientific and objective. See how dozens of different comedians tackle the same premise. In doing so, maybe you’ll find out more about the comedian telling the joke. Or not. I finally saw the film on the big screen (thank you, Coolidge Corner Theatre), and the highlights for me were those moments in which you got to see which comedians really have creative genius in their corner. Among those moments, again for me…

— George Carlin, getting self-analytical mid-routine
— Gilbert Gottfried, more for his explanations of the joke than for his 2001 live performance of the joke at the Comedy Central roast that reportedly inspired the documentary
— Eric Mead turning card tricks for his joke (impressive on that level alone)
— Billy The Mime, because he didn’t care about being on a public boulevard
— Dana Gould’s discussions all around the joke
— Bob Saget, not for showing his true stand-up self (because anyone who follows comedy already knew that), but for cracking himself up repeatedly, yet continuing to tell the joke
— Mario Cantone’s channeling session (spooky but silly)
— Sarah Silverman’s endearing creepiness
— And the South Park gang’s animated bit (by the way, a new season has begun on Comedy Central — you should still be watching it)

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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