(On DVD, July 2006) This may look like a one-joke film, but it’s really about more than that, from the meaning of free speech to the inner working of professional comedians. Certainly, there hasn’t been a film making more mileage out of simple words since the original Clerks. The Aristocrats has been left unrated, but there’s no doubt that it would probably earn an X on language alone. There is no nudity, no violence and in fact very little meanness here: it’s all about the power of words to shock and amuse at the same time as comedians try their best at a joke designed to transgress taboos. Dozens of interviews give a multifaceted approach to the subject as we hear (and see) as many variations as possible on the same theme. (There are even mimed and card-trick versions of the joke!) While the film cloaks itself in the comforting embrace of the first amendment, The Aristocrats is never as interesting as when it provides access in the inner working of professional comedy. The mechanics of humour are dissected with precision, with the director’s audio commentary track providing an additional viewing experience that adds an entire layer of context to the film. This is an essential film for anyone interested not simply in laughing, but in what makes anyone laugh.