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Behind the buzz

It’s been a while since a film has stirred so much controversy and captured the attention of a nation. The Aristocrats features more than 100 comedians telling the same joke in their own style and has, effectively, been banned by AMC Theaters. Meanwhile, films with overt sexual themes and/or nudity such as Young Adam, The Dreamers or A Dirty Shame have had no problems scoring screen time. A simple dirty joke is all it took for the country’s second-largest film chain to turn its back on the independent flick.

“They’re (AMC) a private company with the right to stock anything on their shelves, but you look at the films they stock that include anal rape, violence and stuff like that,” Aristocrats director Paul Provenza said. “Who would’ve thought a dirty joke would be too much to handle. It’s hypocrisy of the whole situation. (It) amazes me.”

The movie features comedians such as Bob Saget, Drew Carey, Lewis Black, Andy Dick and George Carlin giving “The Aristocrat” joke their very own flavor and stage presence. Some have deemed the film as offensive or crude by simply focusing on the language, but the film’s creators hope most will go there with an open mind.

“(The film) operates on a number of levels. You can take from all of it or just from one,” he said.

In spite of the controversy, the movie has maintained steady interest as it plays in a handful of theaters throughout the country – but its run is limited. The Aristocrats opened in only two Tampa Bay area theaters last weekend.

To add to the publicity, the film’s producers are asking people to send in their own version of the infamous joke for possible inclusion on the DVD release.

“The whole movie itself has never been done before, so the contest made perfect sense,” Provenza said. “It started with people telling the joke to their friends and co-workers after seeing the film and adding their own spin on the joke. It’s very in the spirit of the movie, to take the joke and make it your own.”

The project was an ambitious one, as the film’s producers sorted through their Rolodex to fill 89 minutes of film with a hundred of the best comedians. The movie dared to be different by also including some of the most unlikely contributors and tickling the funny bone of everyone in theater.

“It’s a love story because everyone in the film loves what they do and go great distances for laughs. All the comedians have the same joy, but their approach is totally unique and that’s the beauty behind The Aristocrats,” Provenza said.