Sunday, September 18, 2005

High-brow / Low-brow

My parents are in town for the next few days, so Randal & I met them (plus my aunt and uncle) today at the Chateau Laurier for High Tea. (Click on that link - it's a great review from the Xpress here in Ottawa.) We were a little skeptical before showing up - High Tea's not really our sort of thing. We like food, and fancy food is nice too, but there was something a little pretentious about the whole concept of "High Tea". Well, I guess there still is, but it was lovely nevertheless. We had little smoked salmon sandwiches and roast beef sandwiches, more cheese than you could shake a stick at, scones which were oh-so-deelish with Devonshire cream and jam, and some dainty desserts. Plus, of course, the tea. There is over a dozen to choose from - the waitress came by with a large trolley full of tea. She puts some in a bowl and you can smell it to see if that is really the one you want. I tried Margaret's Hope Darjeeling - it was nice and a little strong (which I like), but didn't wow me over. My dad's (Maple Maple) smelled lovely, though I didn't taste it. Mom took the Jasmine Butterfly #1 (the existence and/or nature of #2 remains a mystery). My aunt and uncle both had Berry Berry - it smells similar to Lipton's Mountain Berry. Randal had what I personally thought was the best one - the Lapsang Chu Chong, a Chinese tea. It was very strong and smokey smelling, like burning embers on a fire or an incense stick slowly smoldering. It was very nice.

We were home by about 8:00 or so and I had started to do dishes when Randal came into the kitchen and said we wouldn't be able to see The Aristocrats because it was only playing till Wednesday and I am busy every evening this week. But it was playing in 15 minutes. So I left the dirty dishes in the sink, threw on my jacket, and we ran out to grab a cab to the Bytowne Cinema, arriving about 5 minutes late but thank goodness for previews - we hadn't missed much.

Now, this is not normally my sort of humour, but after one or two renditions of the joke, I was totally into it.* The movie is well done - I had understood it more to be various comedians' version of the joke one after the other, but it is more a fusing and intertwining of tellings and reflections on the joke. No one can really tell you where the joke originated, and there are many theories as to why it keeps getting told. Bottom line: every comedian knows it, every comedian has done it at some point. Some were successful, some were glorious disasters. In the film, a couple of the tellings push the joke way too far, and a few others only provide lame observeations that don't add much; for the most part, however, the comedians seem to really have thought about why people react to the joke in the ways they do and why it has become a rite of passage of sorts for comedians.

If you haven't heard about it, here is a slightly scathing review (but it gets the premise right) and here is a slightly better one, plus here is a reviewer (the first member review on that page) who seems to have really "got it". (No, that is not a biased opinion in any way whatsoever...)

1 comment:

Freemount said...

Yeah, an ok movie, but let me tell you about a better one.

It's about this family, see. Two parents, a boy and a girl, and their pet shetland pony...