And yet, despite its tagline guaranteeing "unspeakable obscenity," "The Aristocrats" may prove to have more of a mainstream appeal than anyone could have anticipated.
In a summer where documentaries seem to be drawing uncharacteristic amounts of attention, the film hit big after one weekend playing in just four theaters nationwide.
In its limited New York and Los Angeles release during the final weekend of July, the movie managed to bring in an impressive $243,796, grossing an average of $60,949 at each theater.
Comedians featured include Whoopi Goldberg, Drew Carey, Robin Williams, Jason Alexander, Chris Rock and Jon Stewart, among others. Some critics have said the climax of the movie comes with a shocking clip of Gilbert Gottfried lapsing into a rare public telling of "The Aristocrats" after a joke bombs during a Friars' Club roast of Hugh Hefner.
The unrated film features close to 100 comics telling a disgusting and foul-mouthed joke, including Mr. Saget's particularly obscene version. The joke itself isn't funny at all: A family walks into a talent agent's office and proceeds to perform a variety of disgusting and vulgar stunts until the agent finally asks the name of their act. The answer? "The Aristocrats," of course. But critics have praised the film for its ability to show the comedic process as those telling the joke drift off into their own routines before ultimately getting to the same punch line, a fluid process that many reviewers have likened to jazz.
The Buzz is standing by until the movie, made by comedians Penn Jillette and Paul Provenza, is released nationwide (excluding AMC chains, naturally) Aug. 12 to see if the rest of the country can handle no nudity, no violence-just what Mr. Jillette called "the power of words."