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Review: Aziz Ansari Nightclub Comedian Feels Like a Humorous Conversation
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Review: Aziz Ansari Nightclub Comedian Feels Like a Humorous Conversation

Aziz Ansari's latest stand-up 'Aziz Ansari: Nightclub Comedian' is streaming on Netflix.

Updated
Movie Reviews
3 min read

Aziz Ansari: Nightclub Comedian

Review: Aziz Ansari Nightclub Comedian Feels Like a Humorous Conversation

Aziz Ansari’s latest stand-up special Aziz Ansari: Nightclub Comedian sees a more toned-down avatar of the comedian who used to flaunt his “swag”. Of course, this muted beigy look isn’t a stark deviation since his previous Netflix outing Right Now.

In that special, he’d announced towards the end that the ‘old Aziz Ansari’ is dead, an executive decision he was perhaps pushed to take following the 2018 allegations of sexual misconduct.

Aziz Ansari in a still from Aziz Ansari: Right Now.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

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As a comedian continuing his controversial comeback after being embroiled in the #MeToo movement, he perhaps believes he is doing his best. In contrast to the Louis CK brand of comedians, he seems to be making a genuine effort to revamp his image and work on the content he puts in the public space (even so, the bare minimum).

Maybe the old Ansari is “dead” but his brand of comedy, though slightly more refined, has remained the same in Nightclub Comedian- a critical, nary cynical, look into human lives and hypocrisy. Ever since 2020, when the COVID-19 virus gripped the world, it is expected from entertainers, especially those dealing with run-of-the-mill anecdotes, to include the pandemic in their content.

Aziz Ansari in the Aziz Ansari: Nightclub Comedian poster.

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

Nightclub Comedian does so in a way almost everyone must have at dinner table conversations or Twitter threads- he talks about anti-vaxxers, how big corporations mine data, and performative, superficial activism. The special is filled with pop culture references- Nicky Minaj’s tweet about her cousin, Aaron Rodgers’ anti-vax rant, and how we don’t see Kamala Harris anymore despite the initial hoopla around her appointment.

There arises the routine’s fatal flaw- with a 29-minute video, Ansari barely leaves any space to make any mistakes and it would be a disservice to not acknowledge the fact that the pop culture references he was talking about were funny and bizarre in themselves.

For the most part, Ansari becomes a medium for comedy instead of creating something.

The irony of having these references in a show extensively talking about how content has taken over our lives and trivialised almost everything else isn’t lost on an attentive viewer but it’s a smart move because it is deliberate.

Ansari seems to know he is part of the world he is critiquing, both as a creator and audience. There is the danger of seeming preachy, especially with the delicate position he’s been in since 2018, but his bit about his ‘latest’ phone helps him avoid that.

This special might be my favourite from the content Ansari has put out so far because it feels like a conversation- it is. It isn’t the large crowds he’s used to, the entire video itself lasts for less than 30 mins. It begins with a video of Ansari from 20 years ago, then a young student gearing up for his stand-up at ‘Comedy Cellar’ where this special is set.

Aziz Ansari in a still from Aziz Ansari: Nightclub Comedian.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

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It’s up close and personal, a brand Ansari has created for himself by being impressive but not flashy. The jokes are easier to digest, they’re not as tongue-in-cheek as some of his last performances, not as provocative. He isn’t pushing the extremities of risky jokes as he has done frequently in the past.

This stand-up routine is funny, no doubt, but it’s also gripping because you’re in the room with them. So, you’re close to the action. You’re not sitting in the audience at a huge theatre with the luxury of sneaking out with padded footsteps; you’re in a comedy club and even if you don’t find something funny you might smile because the audience is laughing, at him and with you.

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