Stand-up isn’t easy. If you’ve ever seen Tom Hanks in “Punchline” you’d understand. It’s usually a sweaty, complicated mess. Like most relationships.
But Aziz Ansari gets it. Not just the funny side of it, the joke side. He gets how to work an audience, how to get them involved in the act.
Mr. Ansari is a tiny Indian man, standing 5’6”, born and raised in South Carolina. Again, tiny Indian man, born and raised in South Carolina. It’s important because it isn’t important at all. At this stage in Mr. Ansari’s career, his ethnicity plays a minor role in his comedy.
Its bigger than you think. Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce…they harped on their heritage, their unique American cultural experience to shock audiences into awareness.
Mr. Ansari, at least in this his current ‘Modern Romance’ tour, sees it another way.
In today’s high-speed, a-touch-away wireless world the idea of the “Other” isn’t as funny anymore, and Mr. Ansari mines that perfectly. His is a comedy of assimilation.
A 21st century comic, Mr. Ansari has mastered modern communication technology (check out his hilarious emoji translation of “N****s in Paris” by Jay-Z and Kanye West if you want proof) and is well aware of how these technologies affect modern romantic relationships. The inherent informality of it all. From text to Facebook to Instagram and Snapchat, sometimes everyone else knows things before the people that should. He draws from that well throughout the entire show.
From a bit that relied on first-time conversations people in the audience texted with romantic interests that fell a bit flat (frankly the audience failed to give him much to work with), to a hilarious back and forth he did with himself on how getting to know each other and planning things by text message might be the flakiest thing two people can engage in; Mr. Ansari displayed an obvious desire for relationships to work like they used to. Simply two people getting to know each other better, connecting with each other on a deeper level; not while staring at the screen of your phone or tablet, but actually sitting face to face.
He closed with a good five minutes talking about his current, and first, serious relationship. Even though he laced it with hilarious stories, his affection and love for this unnamed girl came through bright as day. And if you looked around the room, you noticed the audience leaning in, nodding their heads, hanging on every word. Not only were they waiting on the punchline, they were acknowledging the experiences that tie us together in today’s world. Aziz Ansari, in one hilarious night, showed everyone how ridiculous most of those experiences are.
Have you seen Aziz live? What did you think? Share with us!
About Krishna: I‘m 34 now, but for the last 10 years, whether it be for my college newspaper, my hometown daily, or my own blog I’ve been trying to convince people what/what not to listen to and watch. I have opinions…on nearly everything. And you might not always agree with me, but I’ll make damn sure its entertaining enough to read. So get ready for the ride! You can see more at unkut.tumblr.com and if you want to tell me how you agree with me, or more likely how you think I’m completely off base, you can blast me at @kthinakk on Twitter.