AZIZ ANSARI: RIGHT NOW!
It is perhaps unfair to Aziz to start with his now-famous 2018 date gone wrong. He hasn’t spoken much about it publically, however, and most people in the audience want to hear his thoughts eighteen months later. Aziz handles that well, all things considered, and starts the show with a few personal minutes.
He felt a lot of things over the weeks and months afterwards, like scared, humiliated, embarrassed and terrible. He is proud of the conversations he inspired in other people and tells the story about a friend who says it caused him to think about ‘every date he’s been on.’ Aziz says the experience made him a better person and taught him to not always think forward, but appreciate the moment he’s in, a theme that repeats during the special.
What he doesn’t do is apologize exactly, which made him no fans on the very left. But then again, his actions on that day though calculated and driven to one goal of having sex, did not abuse his power with a subordinate. It was always unfair to lump him with those who had done much worse like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and countless, horrible mid-level managers who misused their authority in the workplace.
It’s not the most hilarious way to begin a comedy show, but it was authentic and riveting. Sitting on a stool for much of the show with Director Spike Jones himself operating a very close up camera on stage, the special feels very intimate. Indeed from an exciting stage door entrance that is somehow only five meters from the Brooklyn stage, to Aziz sometimes speaking only in a whisper, it often feels like he’s talking to us personally.
But this is a big show and it’s great to have Aziz back. The show is very well written and performed. He is great with the crowd. He is charming and funny as he races through smart topics and ‘proves’ many points during the show, including a fantastic observation stemming from a racist pizza worker that put pepperonis on a customer’s pizza in the shape of a swastika — and no it’s not the point you’re expecting.
He is optimistic about America and reminds us that the shit has hit the fan not just now. ‘The fan has always had shit on it!’ His explanation allows us to look past the news of the day and to a (perhaps) light at the end of the tunnel.
And when he makes fun of our interactions as adults with our parents, he also reminds us to make the most out of them as time marches on. At the end of this upbeat and hopeful show, he says he always told people. ‘thank you for coming out,’ but he never meant it. Those were just words. But in the past year, when he was in his self- (and others-) imposed performance exile, he got a taste of a world where he was not in the spotlight and not performing, and that changed him most of all.
So when he says now he appreciates the fact that people in the audience all made an effort to see him just talk into a microphone for an hour, we believe him.
This is a great and very funny show with a subject matter that is perfect for an international audience.