The Aristocrats
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The Aristocrats

2005, Society  -   65 Comments
Ratings: 6.84/10 from 38 users.

The AristocratsComedy veterans and co-creators Penn Jillette and Paul Provenza capitalize on their insider status and invite over 100 of their closest friends - who happen to be some of the biggest names in entertainment, to reminisce, analyze, deconstruct and deliver their own versions of the world's dirtiest joke, an old burlesque too extreme to be performed in public, called The Aristocrats.

One hundred superstar comedians tell the same very, VERY dirty, filthy joke - one shared privately by comics since Vaudeville.

The Aristocrats is a longstanding transgressive joke amongst comedians, in which the setup and punchline are almost always the same (or similar). It is the joke's midsection - which may be as long as the teller prefers and is often completely improvised – that makes or breaks a particular rendition.

The joke involves a person pitching an act to a talent agent. Typically the first line is, "A man walks into a talent agent's office." The man then describes the act. From this point, up to (but not including) the punchline, the teller of the joke is expected to ad-lib the most shocking act they can possibly imagine.

The joke ends with the agent, shocked and often impressed, asking "And what do you call the act?" The punchline of the joke is then given: "The Aristocrats".

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65 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Dan

    Notice how Seinfeld isn't in it? He doesn't do tasteless humor.

    I agree. Perhaps it's not really supposed to be a joke but a joke on you.

  2. Hahni

    I'm still waiting to hear "the mermaids singing, each to each."

    Oh, and the movie was great. I love hearing people talk about doing the work they love. The joke didn't offend me, not in any of its versions. Does that make me a dirty old lady? Maybe!

  3. William Money

    Wow! Not all...may have been 30/40 years ago...

  4. David Jager

    Mario Cantone's turn as liza Minelli; genius. What the sour faced prudes don't get is that vulgarity is not the point, its the incredibly subtle asides, dead-pan,jabs and cultural references that emerge in every telling. Not to mention the outlandish imagery, which goes beyond vulgar into something dreamlike: Jason Alexander and the Beni Hana Shrimp reference for instance. Of course, we shouldn't expect people with 0 appreciation for artistry to get it. Why would they?

  5. bumpercrop

    This doc portends to show the inside joke from the entertainer's viewpoint of humanity. The most depraved of human behavior is displayed as audition for hire in theatre. When asked the name of the act, the actors respond, :"The Aristocrats". Thereby demonstrating the irony of human depravity as the crème de 'la crème of humanity. It was a bit much for my tastes. That is why it is supposed to be an inside joke within the world of theatre. Not a first date kind of film.

  6. Khadija Pudhuswami

    Much more appropriate to call it "THE ROCKEFELLERS" instead!

  7. Achems_Razor

    Now I have to watch part 8# "Gilbert Gottfried" rendition again. lol

  8. Kenzmyth

    Last night was my second viewing of The Aristocrats. I admit that the first time I saw it a few years back that I was mystified. Now I get it! This movie is about how the human brain can survive the miasma of human tragedy, degeneracy, abominable behavior and continue to laugh as a signal of the immutable, continual human spirit. That and it's just about the funniest probe into the mind of mad genius ever presented. I think we all love to see comedians collapse in laughter or maintain character without flinching. Scatalogical humor maybe the lowest form of humor, but it IS universal. Thank you Paul and Penn!

  9. sean wong

    anybody else think the mime did the joke the best?

    mimes are fuc*ing awesome

    1. pusspussbangbang0555

      I have tried this joke in french, here in france the Northern french love it,in central france they phone the Gendarmerie

  10. cezy

    I can see why comedians love this joke, it gives them the chance to spew out whatever filth they want and rely on an infallible punchline! Can't go wrong by making the ruling classes the brunt of all jokes.

    1. Patrick James Bayham

      the point is's not a joke..just a well know fact...:)

  11. Attaboyslim

    In a nutshell, while the material discussed is sick beyond the imagination of most people who consider themselves as being normal, it is also a true glimpse into the real world of the ruling elites. Not necessarily or exclusively to wealthy individuals but those who parade as the Nobility; ruling over the ignorant masses. The despicable behavior of these ruling families throughout history could actually be the reasons behind most of the perversions found in our lives today. Those unspeakable things that have been introduced into the public spectrum might have been a mental release by those who were allowed to live as survivors of such nightmares.

    So, by all means, bow to the Kings and Queen. Kiss the feet of those who control your lives. Continue voting the same unscrupulously corrupt people into office and never question their motives because, after all, what they do is for your own good. They only want what is best for each and every one of us because they care.

    Currently listing Beach Front Property in Oklahoma, very reasonably priced. Only serious inquiries, call BR-549.

  12. greg10101

    For my dear American cousins, anybody from the UK or Europe this is a satirical joke about the amoral behavior of the aristocracy and ruling classes throughout history. The dirtier and nastier the build up the more aggressively satirical it is.

  13. pusspussbangbang

    I once told this joke,in French,in a bar in Limoges Central France and when I delivered the punchline the bar owner shrugged held up his hands and said"But why were they called the Aristocrats?"

  14. Wayne

    An exercise in expanding the bards craft by expanding a theme to the greatest absurdity possible which inspires other artisans to attempt even greater achievments using alternative persepctive material.
    I love comedy that goes beyond social morals...and this one went well beyond.
    Sadly, not all will understand the subtext.
    It also seems to me that the real comedy begins when the club closes. That's the best time to be around comics.

  15. David

    Shit joke, shit movie that you wouldn't put up with for more than a few minutes if it wasn't for all the well knows. Even with them I only lasted 5 minutes.

  16. toddy

    Go ahead and try to offend me, bet you can't. Great doc. if you aren't offended. I saw it a few years ago and found it to be humorous and tasteless at the same time. Thats why I had to watch it again. Anyone looking for a great new act I have one?

  17. Achems Razor


    What is funny is the shock value, nothing else, it is not meant to be a joke.

    A person has to have a sense of humour to understand this, and not be scared of mere words, trust me no one is going to go to hell to laugh at this parody. Unless of course if you are a religee.(LOL)

  18. Leni

    What a disappointment. I can't even make it through part 2. No artistic merit at all. I could have been in that doc and talked **** with them and who would have known the difference?

    I agree with Atte Mede, it is horrible and it exists only because no one wanted to break rank and admit that it truly is not funny!

  19. Achems Razor

    I keep replaying part 8# "Gilbert Gottfried" rendition.

    I must be weird. (ROTFLMAO)

    1. ruffkutt

      Not to mention Larry Storch doing the Brit rendition, the ventriloquist guy, and last but not least, Bob Saget, the "goody-two-shoes" guy from Full House spewing his scatological beans. I woke up everybody in the house laughing at this doc. Well edited and hilarious.

  20. Villnova

    Great documentary. Having worked many jobs and met so many people in my seems to be Universal. You work, 'customers' never really get it and the result is..jokes and comments that make you smile and forget. Its a strong builder of relationships and shared experiences. This is the secret handshake of comedians who worked the scene.

  21. Omega Man

    DUMB.. sorry it is. ;)

  22. Moakley

    could of been five minutes long

  23. Lary Nine

    Yeah! That peach is long gone in my bio.

  24. Greg

    You gotta live life to its fullest.
    Eat the peach I say

  25. Lary Nine

    Do I dare
    Disturb the universe?
    In a minute there is time
    For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
    For I have known them all already, known them all: —
    Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
    I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
    I know the voices dying with a dying fall
    Beneath the music from a farther room.
    So how should I presume?

    [I grow old ... I grow old ...
    I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
    Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?]

  26. Lary Nine

    @charles ranalii~
    I suspect that you're right as rain on that theory of toxicity. I speak from the other side of the abyss of innocence with a vivid recollection of former propriety. There are times when I regret having over-stepped the line... It was T.S. Eliot who said in 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock': "Do I dare to eat a peach? Do I dare disturb the universe?"
    I wonder if this doesn't apply to all forays into risk and daring where we pull the tail of the tiger of conformity?

  27. charles ranalli

    i suspect that appreciation for this "performance art" - like most of "saturday night live" for that matter - requires the right quantity and quality of drugs. an innocent would instinctively flee from such toxicity.
    charles ranalli

  28. Lary Nine

    I know a steel worker that tells such woefully obscene, irredeemably filthy, egregiously offensive, not to mention gastrically agitating jokes that his co-workers have vomitted down 80 floors to the sidewalk while trying their best to curse him to eternal damnation for his moral turpitude... between the obstructing chunks. The Aristocrats is not really in the same league.

  29. RUSerious?

    "Will" expressed my sentiments almost to perfection.

    Couldn't finish it either, not funny. I would only add child porno/incest as humor seems incomprehensible to me, and is too offensive for my taste.

  30. Louise

    @ Atte Mede

    I couldn't agree more with you. I made it 12 minutes, just got worse.

    I know they're joking, but its more than vulgar, it definitely crosses the line.

  31. Greg

    ony = only minus the L

  32. Greg

    @ Lary Nine

    Hard to type while I am laughing, but you ask a very good question of james. Personally I fall into catgory b but to be honest the ony word in it I understand is gasbag.

    I will now go back to my corner to ignorantly wait for a response from pammy, altho I could look up the Billy Connelly joke myself but I would much rather hear/read it in pammy's own words as she seems very passionate on the subject so I think we would get a more informative answer from her.

  33. Lary Nine


    OMG! Funny.
    Eeney-meeney-miney-mo... which one you is, nobody know.

    a) cogniscenti with very astute,erudite comments
    b) know-it-all gasbag with vapid obtuse pseudo-intellectual tripe

  34. Richie

    I hope this annoys people.


    All I can say is I LOVED IT!

  36. james

    I am anxious as hell to read the comments from folks unable to resist an austere,clinical intellectualized anal-ysis of why this is neither sensitive nor funny.It is crass and undeniably un-Christian...heh heh heh..can't wait..

  37. james

    @VLATKO OH My GOD,Man!!!I am totally FLOORED that this doc made it to this site!I am in tears just thinking about it.TopDocs fans regularly enjoy and endure some very astute,erudite,comments from the cogniscenti as well as vapid obtuse pseudo-intellectual tripe from know-it-all gasbags!This doc is something we can ALL be offended and mentally sodomized by!UNrestrained glorious Filth!!Enjoy,everyone

  38. Lary Nine


    What controversial Billy Connolly joke about Ken Bigly? I'm ignorant of this like Greg.

    @Atte Mede~
    It picks up about 9 minutes in and ends with gravitas, maturity and unexpected moral inversion. I know...I know... hard to beleive.'s The Aristocrats!

  39. Atte Mede

    I watched about 8 minutes and that was enough.

    You can attempt to make the worst, most disgusting, cowardly behaviour socially acceptable by presenting it as a joke. If any of these cultural icons broke rank and suggested there really was a limit to the sewage that could come from their mouths, they'd be none of them pull out for the sake of maintaining their standing within their community.

    The real punchline is this: it's not funny; it's horrible. I can't think of anything better to do right now, than to forever intend to avoid being influenced or entertained by any of the participants. It's not my choice--I can't help it.

  40. Greg

    @ pammy

    Never been much of a Billy Connelly fan and excuse my ignorance on the subject but could you please fill me in on the joke and circumstances surrounding it. The name Ken Bigly doesn't automatically ring a bell but I do remember there was a video that was online years ago of someone getting beheaded by some terrorists so I am guessing it could have been Ken Bigly.

  41. pammy

    Was about to watch this but stopped out of protest against Billy Connelly. I shall NEVER forgive that man for making a joke out of Ken Bigly`s circumstances before he was beheaded by terrorists. Billy Connelly is a disgrace to humanity...I hate the SKANK. Such a self important disgraceful ugly excuse for a man.

    1. Patrick James Bayham

      lol...almost as funny as billy connelly.

  42. Greg

    Most docs on here are great to watch, internally analyse then voice your opinion on them here in the comment section. For this one turn off the analytical part of your mind, crank up your humour metre, sit back and laugh your ass off. I watched this vid a long time ago and can't wait to see it again. If vulgarity offends you then I strongly suggest you skip this particular doc

  43. esmuziq

    that gottfried gilbert guy i loved him in problem child back in the days :-)

  44. Lillyvon

    Easily one of the FUNNIEST doco's I've seen. My partner and I cried laughing. It's not for everyone certainly, but if you are not precious or politically correct and can just laugh at everything - it's just comedy gold! Cannot rave about this doco enough. I've probably watched it 10 times, especially when I'm having a bad day - it cheers me right up!

  45. Will

    Yeah, it's vulgar, but I guess that's the point.
    For me it was uninteresting and boring. I couldn't finish it.

  46. 5T3V3H3W5

    If I get really bored, then I will check this one out. Just from the comments I have read.

  47. Waldo

    I get it I guess, but the offensive imagery was too much for me. I like the vaudeville style though, always been interested in live performance art, comedy included. I think Penn and Teller have a very original and artistic vaudeville type flare about their performances, thats why I like them so much. I want to rate this higher because it has some of my favorite performers in it, Robin Williams is hysterical, but the incest referneces in particular are just too offensive for my taste. I give it maybe five out of ten, and please don't watch this with any young people about.

  48. Achems Razor

    Hilarious! A classic, but had to keep the volume down. (LOL)

    Does anybody have any new versions for this comment section Hmmm?

    This doc should freak the religee's out.

  49. Lex Da Liar

    5 stars. What a great doc! A must see for the whole family!

  50. bornin62honest

    O.K. Wow. I've heard the joke for years, but I think that "Billy the Mime" was amazing. I never thought you could do that one in mime.

    I loved this one! It's nice to see so much talent in one place. The piece does lag a bit in spots, mainly cause so many are telling the same joke, albeit in different styles.

    Fans of comics will like this one.

    THANKS V !!!!!!!!!

  51. silkop

    And that's why I prefer Teller to Penn.

  52. Elbowbiter1

    For those that think this doc is terrible, watch it again when you are in the mood for something light... then you'll realize it is a little heavier than you think. This is one of the greatest unconventional documentaries I have ever seen and I have seen nearly all of them. The doc is not only about a joke, it is about a piece of our culture, and also the Doc IS the joke, "the aristocrats" told in documentary format. VERY VERY Clever and highly entertaining if you have half a sense of humour.

  53. Gerry

    Be forewarned, this documented retelling of "The Aristocrats" is intended to be waaayyy over-the-top profane, offensive, and vulgar. In fact that's the entire point of the Aristocrats schtick... the more lewd and disgusting, the funnier it is. This is really twisted humor, and it's a hoot to watch these well-known comics indulge with obvious relish and gusto in their personal versions of this backstage, insider humor.

  54. Albert

    @HHV: I agree. Same for Bob Saget. This guy is a lot funnier than I always thought he was.

  55. Albert

    What you have to keep in mind when watching this documentary is that just because it's about a joke, it is not intended to make you laugh. The real value of this is that it shows you a little bit about the world behind comedy. In that respect, pay attention to the analogy that is made with jazz music throughout the movie. Jazz is not a very popular music genre, in fact most audiences have a strong antipathy for it. Yet under musicians - from classically schooled to rave-DJ's -, jazz is a way to freely enjoy, explore and expose their musical skills, often to an audience of fellow musicians. "The Aristocrats" joke is basically the 3-chord jazz scheme for comedians. That is what makes this documentary enjoyable for those who like comedy.

    That and Sarah Silverman :)

  56. HHV

    Gottfried has never been funny to me, UNTIL this documentary. BWAHAHAHAH!

  57. Lary Nine

    In the final analysis, the reason people laugh is complicated, like all humor. But it gets laughs, I think, because:
    a) it's a big relief when it's finished
    b) it's amazingly stupid like all 'shaggy dog' stories
    c) people expect a really gross punchline from the ongoing
    tone of the joke and when they don't hear one, it's funny
    d) if you have comic presence like Gottfried, you can build
    it up almost like you're warming up an audience---then,
    wham! (go back to #1)

    This is all I can come up to justify its longevity.

  58. Lary Nine

    This joke won't work for cerebral comedians like Dennis Miller or Bill Maher. It takes someone with an act that has a 'schtick'... like a comic with a 'Buddy-Hackett-type' face or guy with Dangerfield's quirkiness to make this joke work. Gilbert Gottfried in the early part of the film has the best delivery for this material IMHO.

  59. Harry Wilson

    Going to watch Theroux and the Nazi's instead.

  60. Harry Wilson

    Whoah. Stopped watching. Not funny. Who's the guy in the spa?

  61. matt85

    cannot wait to read these comments...