Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Any Given Sunday

Phyllis Diller: That’s bestiality. It’s in the bible.
Penn Gillette: It’s in my diary.
”The Aristocrats”

The distraction and I had a fine weekend, even if the poker wasn’t agreeing with me. We had a fantastic Sunday, which I thought I would share here without any poker interruptions. It wasn’t such a big day or anything, just an enjoyable one where no problems occurred. It was just a good day.

We ventured into the city to see “The Aristocrats” because it is only on a limited release. As regular readers would be well aware, I am a big fan of Penn & Teller, and when I heard Penn was one of the men behind the project I thought it would be of interest.

The Distraction has a love for Thai food (there you go Skitch, I’ll try to get a Thai reference in once a week now), and the cinema we were headed to near our ex-flatmates new place is very close to some fine Thai restaurants. I am not as much a fan of the spicy food, but it is growing on me. I ordered my yellow curry (mild for the wussy Aussie tastebuds) while the ex-flatemate and the Distraction ordered their dishes from the hot section. A duck red curry and some spicy prawn dish. This restaurant bills itself as Sydney’s Best Thai 198-2002, which tells me they have let themselves go in the past few years (or which ever hokey organisation gives out those awards has since moved back into the mail order business).

Well, the food was just fantastic, so full of flavour and barely a taste bud burned. Even the ultra spicy aftertaste of the prawns wasn’t enough to stop me from trying them again. It was really tasty, and naturally the Distraction was impressed.

Since we had some time to kill before our movie session, the ex-flatmate took us to some of his favourite stores in the area just to show us some things. The first was a poster store – which seems weird to me. I wouldn’t have thought that a store could survive just selling posters, but there you go. I could have easily spent a grand in there without trying. The two highlights was a massive Pulp Fiction poster of Jules and Verne in their famous pose which measured about 1m by 2m, and another slightly smaller of my two favourite muppets Statler and Waldorf. I wished we owned our own place and had a spot to put them.

Second was a toy store that had a few old hand made toys. Yeah, I was a bit confused with this choice of shopping, and afterwards nothing had happened to change this.

The third store was a record store, which was unusual because I have very little interest in music. Don’t get me wrong, I have my favourite tunes and everything, I’m just not into the whole buying this album and that album and going to this concert and that concert.

Bu this place was different. Under each rack of vinyls and cd’s, there was a display case. In the cases was some of the best toys and figurines I have ever seen. Everything from the Beatles to Kiss, from Astro Boy to Futurama, and a Alfred E. Neuman thrown in for good measure. There was even a wall dedicated to hair metal, featuring the likes of Twisted Sister, WASP, Poison, Skid Row, Motley Crue and many more. A thousand dollars just wouldn’t cut it in this place. One of the Astro Boy toys, you would swear is was made by the South Park guys. After we had mentally spent close to our yearly salary, we left to make the 2pm show.

I had heard the Aristocrats joke once before, some time ago, but I wasn’t aware of the history of it or the institution it seems to have in the comedy industry. I wonder if this is also present in Australian comedians…More than likely not, we really don’t have many top calibre comics running around these days, mores the pity.

For those uninformed, The Aristocrats joke is one that comedians tell to other comedians, in which the opening lines and the punch line are the same but the middle part is used to put in as many disgusting and crude references as possible. This documentary is about that joke.

Firstly, the quality if about par for documentary filming – it that it looks like a home video on a tripod for 50% of the film. Nothing really spectacular there at all. I was also a little disappointed that the comedians appearing in the film didn’t have their names displayed until the end credits. Most of them are big names, but others I had no clue who they were. There is no real narrative and it does seem to jump around very frequently at the start.

But how good is it? I firmly believe that any film that is trying to be funny (lets call them comedies) should be solely judged by how funny they are – anything else is a bonus. Well this movie is hilarious. Not for the weak of stomach mind you.

The comics being interviewed, and it is a veritable who’s who of comedy there, talk about the joke – when they first heard it, who tells it good, their own version of it, why it is sacred to the comedy brethren and so on. They also go into alternate ways of telling the joke – like by a mime and a card trick, both of which were highlights – and telling other similar jokes and just generally try to out do each other in front of the camera.

I’ve seen a lot of comedians and comedy acts – and if I can get a little controversial here, women and funny as a rule rarely mix. I just haven’t seen that many funny female comics since…well, ever. I’ve heard one female comic rebut this by saying “Well maybe our jokes are just too smart and clever for you to understand”. Well how smart and clever do you need to be to get a joke about your ex boyfriend and your vibrator? Anyway, the reason I bring this up is a strongly believe there are only two female comics I have seen perform multiple times who was really funny each time – Wanda Sykes and Sarah Silverman. Sarah Silverman also has an alternate way of telling the Aristocrats joke – it displayed absolutely perfect timing and delivery, and was easily one of the top three bits of the documentary. I was pleased too, because I was talking her up to the ex flatmate before the movie started.

What was weird was even though there was no actual narrative, obviously all the interviews sort of provide their own, the pacing was fantastic. Without all the versions of the joke told in the beginning you wouldn’t find the mime, the card trick and Sarah Silverman as funny as they were. And when it finally gets up to Gilbert Godfried telling the joke just after September 11, it had you hooked. They were cutting in bits of Gilbert telling the joke along with other comedians saying why it was perfect timing for that joke and how well it went over and so on, and all the time I was thinking “I hope they show the punch line” – which was weird, because the punch line isn’t the funny part of the joke. But somehow, after the previous 90 minutes of this same joke, I felt like I needed the punch line to finish it off. Even if it isn’t that funny a punch line, it is the finish that the joke needs to signal it’s conclusion.

As you can tell, I loved it, as did the entire packed (albeit small) cinema.

After this we began walking back to the car, and the ex flatmate wanted to stop by a pub to go to the toilet. As we waited in the air conditioned goodness of this fine establishment, I spotted the Australian’s playing cricket on the flat screen. Turns out we were putting on quite a show too. We decided to stay and played some pool, drank some beers for the next few hours before finally heading home. My pool game was on song too, winning every match I had. It’s nice to be a winner.

Then we headed home, where I had hired “Red Dead Revolver” for the X-Box the previous day. I haven’t got into a game for a while, so this was fun and took me back to my childhood years spent playing games into the early hours of the morning.

And that was the best Sunday I’ve had for some time. No poker, but just a simple day that worked beautifully.

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