Friday, January 20, 2006

this guy walks into a talent agent's office...

The DVD of "The Aristocrats" will be released on Tuesday. The movie stars dozens of comedians including many favorites I have booked as radio guests over the years like Gilbert Gottfried, Richard Jeni and Kevin Pollak. I got to know two of the featured comics, Allan Havey and Bobby Slayton, when I worked at the Comedy World Radio Network.

I had hoped to see the movie when it briefly played at the Downtown West Cinema but I didn't get there. I think the communal experience of laughing with others at the same disgusting joke would have made me feel like less of a freak than watching the DVD alone. But as a student of comedy, I want to add the disc to my collection not only for the film but for the 2 hours of extras they've put on there.

The lengthy press release I received via email makes me want to see "The Aristocrats" all the more. Here's a small sampling
from the production notes:
"Everyone in the film wanted to be in the film, although some of them thought it was insane and were willing to tell us that on camera," recalls [Paul] Provenza. "For them, it was a chance to roll around in the mud and not care about making a mess. It's also a challenge to outdo one another. When we were shooting, some people just told the joke and then had to get on with their busy lives and we were done in 15 to 20 minutes. Others just kept going and going and enjoying themselves. Billy Connolly was going to squeeze us in for an hour before rushing off to make a flight. He ended up changing his flight and hanging out and laughing with us for hours and his lovely wife made us all lunch. We often forgot we were making a movie when we were shooting."

George Carlin, Drew Carey, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman, Robin Williams, Eric Idle, Judy Gold, Bill Maher, Eddie Izzard, Jon Stewart, Bob Saget, Gilbert Gottfried... these are just a handful of the one hundred comedians who contribute their comic genius to THE ARISTOCRATS. Some, like Bob Saget, who is best known for playing the father on the squeaky-clean television series "Full House," reveal they have a surprising talent - and taste - for adult humor. Other performers deliver highly original renditions of the joke, including Billy the Mime, who wickedly pantomimes "The Aristocrats" while unsuspecting pedestrians walk by, and Eric Mead, who actually enacts the joke's sexual intricacies and assorted vulgarities with a deck of ordinary playing cards. Gilbert Gottfried delivers a classic rendering of "The Aristocrats" at a roast for Hugh Hefner, causing fellow comic Rob Schneider to laugh so hard he literally falls off his chair.

The comics were comfortable performing "The Aristocrats" for Provenza, [Penn] Jillette, and their non-threatening consumer video cameras because the film was not made in a conventional way. The filmmakers emphasized informality, recreating the intimate atmosphere they experienced after-hours, when they would gather with their fellow comics to trade jokes and talk about humor. "The tone of the movie is exactly right because it's just buddies of ours talking to us," says Jillette. "We've all done a ton of TV things and once a crew comes in and sets one light and powders someone down, it becomes work. This was a couple of goofballs with cameras, just turning them on laughing. One of the hardest parts of the final sound work was editing out Provenza and me laughing over every take."

Jillette and Provenza shot THE ARISTOCRATS over a period of about two years, working at various times in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, San Francisco, San Diego, London, and other places. "We wanted it to be honest and convey the real nature of the shoots - in hallways, hotel rooms, dressing rooms, people's homes, coffee shops, wherever," Provenza explains. "If the sound is tough to hear because of planes or noisy nightclub activity in the background, well - that was part of the experience. I think this flexibility contributes to the looseness and unselfconsciousness of so many of the performances." Many of the comics are caught backstage; Jon Stewart in his dressing room, getting ready for a show; Drew Carey on a set. They're warmed up and in top form, ready to tell "The Aristocrats" as it has never been told before.

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Blogger bean said...

frank, i did see "the aristocrats" in a theater and about half of the small crowd inside walked out during the showing. i have heard similar stories for almost every screening. it is way rougher than you might expect it to be. make sure you haven't eaten before you sit down to watch it and that your family is at least 100 miles away.

will you root for the seahawks now that your team is out or do you southern staters stick together so it'll be carolina for you?

Blogger Frank Murphy said...

I had to give some thought to your football question. I think I will root for the Seahawks today mainly because I think the Panthers play a snarling cat sound over their PA system during their home games, which I find very annoying. Plus the Seahawks won 13 regular season games. I hope I don't jinx your team with my support!


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