Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Aristocrats

I would show a photograph of aristocrats here, but such as the nature of this post I am worried of the legal consequences. So instead I have settled for a photograph of a Hyena.
Andrew from WongaBlog recently blogged on the documentary film The Aristocrats. I had heard of this before. It's basically about a decades old joke told amongst comedians, almost like a secret handshake amongst freemasons.
The joke goes something like this. An agent goes to a talent scout and says that he has a family act that will go down a storm. "Well what is it about!" says the talent scout. The agent then goes and describes the act (and it's here that the person telling joke must make up what is going on, and the general rule is that it has to be shocking and foul). The agent as shocked and lost for words and asks what it is called. The punchline being "The Aristocrats"
So anyway, I am at my local Blockbusters Video Store late yesterday afternoon, and I see the film on the display shelf (I did not, I assure you, go in with the purpose of renting this out! At least not consciously). I hesitate, given Andre's review, but then think it might be worth seeing.
Watched it late last night.
Now I have what many regard, including me, to have a warped sense of humour (I also have a fairly dry sense of humour, but warped is there somewhere). Mum says it comes from Dad's side of the family (and my humour is more warped than his), but put it this way, my favourite scenes in Monty Python's: The Meaning of Life included Mr Creosote, the "Live Organ Transplants", and the "Masters Vs Pupils rugby match".
But I do have standards and there are some forms of humour, like incest, peadophillia, etc that I regard as out of bounds. This goes way out of bounds, and jokes about human wasteage I tend to find purile and boring.
And I suppose that is what irritated me about the whole enterprise. I like the concept of heavy improvisation on a joke told amongst comedians, or even amongst those who have a thing for humour, but the improvisation struck me as not only foul, but rather boring and almost predictable. If the aim of the improvisation is to shock then the comedians concerned are going for the obvious route. I don't think I laughed out loud once, except for some minor detail in the act, told by one comedian, which involved a flying trapeze artist.
I also fell asleep at some point, and felt that I hadn't missed anything when I woke up. Not a good sign.


the dĂșnadan said...


I don't know the Monty Python - Masters Vs Pupils rugby match - joke, could you expand?


Paul Burgin said...

It comes after the sex education scene in The Meaning of Life, where the Headmaster shows a physical demonstration with his wife.
The pupils are bored, and despite the Headmaster's comments, such as "Wymer, this is for your benefit. I'm not doing this again!", they show hardly any interest. One of them looks out of the window and sniggers.
When asked what he thought was so funny, the pupil concerned was then told that if he finds it so amusing, perhaps he would care to take part in the Masters Vs Pupils rugby match, which is the next scene.
Put basically it is a scene where you see the boy (Played by Terry Jones), with a gang of real-life eight year olds on a rugby pitch, playing against the grown-up masters, who show no mercy, use every foul in the book, and win 23/0.
It's funny if you watch it, as opposed to see it written down.

Andrew said...

Fair enough :-) At least you now know what all the fuss is about!

Also, hyenas are cool :-)

Paul Burgin said...

Yeah I know the fuss!
It was reassuring in a way, to see the borderline of humour which I refuse to cross!