The Aristocrats


Top 40% of all time (see others with this rank)

Festival Year

2005 (click here to see all competition films from this year)


Documentary Competition

Non-Cast Credits

Paul Provenza, Penn Jillette, Peter Adam Golden, Ken Krasher Lewis, Glenn S. Alai, Michael Lynn, Farley Ziegler, Emery Emery


The Aristocrats is a very unique film. It is funny and very perverse but has a seriousness of purpose that places it dead center in any discussion about values and mores and even more specifically the nature of taboo. It features more than 100 comedians and takes an unprecedented backstage look at the world of comics, both superstars and lesser-known lights. It is a labor of love by creators Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette; because of their own comic stature, they have access to people and situations that one cannot duplicate. And all in the pursuit of telling one very, very, dirty joke, a joke that has been around since vaudeville but one that nobody I know has every heard of or, more importantly, ever heard told. Well, in The Aristocrats, you'll hear this same joke told 100 times. It's a joke that previously existed only in private, among comics, and it is the dirtiest joke you will ever hear.

While there is no nudity, no sex, and no violence in The Aristocrats, this is one of the most shocking and, perhaps for some, offensive films you will ever see. But its provocativeness is never gratuitous; it creates in its own singular fashion an absolutely arresting portrait of comic art.


Geoffrey Gilmore (see other films reviewed by the same reviewer)

Film Takes Pace.