With an entry line starting at Bovard Auditorium and circling around Doheny Library hundreds of feet away, Aziz Ansari’s stand-up act Monday night drew a crowd of more than 500 students. Full of ruckus, laughter and commotion, this highly entertaining event hosted by the USG Program Board Speakers Committee was definitely a hit.
The night began with an opening act by Dan Levy who has made appearances on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend and The Late Late Show and also won the title of “Funniest College Comedian in America” at the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in 2001. Levy’s engaging act definitely set the bar high for the evening. Although he tended to lean on stereotypical college themes such as sex and drugs like many other comedians, Levy repurposed the familiar material in creative ways to get laughs.
Levy continued his act by elaborating on an encounter with Justin Timberlake at the gym, saying he was absolutely dumbfounded to see him. With nothing else on his mind, he awkwardly spurred a conversation about Timberlake’s shoes and ended with, “Congrats on your success!” leading to an uproar of laughter from the audience. The opening act ended with an amusing comparison between Circuit City and RadioShack, when Levy questioned why a whole city of circuits went out of business but a little shack of radios somehow survived.
As Aziz Ansari made his entrance after Levy’s opening act, a stream of camera flashes lit up the stage. Although Ansari was seemingly flustered and a little annoyed by all the flashing lights, he comically posed for all the pictures while pretending to tell jokes and then politely asked everyone to put their cameras away. The impromptu ‘photo shoot’ definitely set the stage for Ansari’s casual act.
As the night went on, students could not control their laughter. The most appealing part of his act was the way in which he made even the simplest topics like researching on Wikipedia seem so amusing. During the act, Ansari went on to explain how Wikipedia allows him to waste valuable time over unimportant topics like finding out which Home Alone movie made the most money. His search only led to more searches and he opened tabs to find out that Joe Pesci’s father was a fork operator, a fact that Ansari figured would not really be useful when attempting to impress women.
Another aspect about Ansari’s comedy that truly stood out was the fact that, unlike other South Asian comedians like Russell Peters, Ansari did not rely on racial stereotypes, accents and impressions to back up the performance. His piece was definitely a lot more personal, which added a certain variety and originality that surely appealed to the audience. Instead of mimicking other accents and doing racial impressions, Ansari decided to make a set of jokes about a section on Wikipedia entirely dedicated to racial slurs and later went on to substituting them with ‘Star Wars’ references.
The show was definitely not complete without the appearance of “Raaaaaaaandy,” the standup comic Ansari played in Judd Apatow’s film Funny People. Ansari went on to introduce more Randy pieces and talk about his infamous two cousins Harris and Darwish, entertaining the audience with his impressions.
With his past roles in Funny People and I Love You, Man and regular appearances as Tom Haverford on NBC’s comedy Parks and Recreation, Ansari is the upcoming comedian to look out for in 2010.
Whether its about unlimited Wikipedia tabs on Internet Explorer, Joe Pesci’s father’s occupation or Randy’s sexual encounters in a variety of locations including but not limited to a rollercoaster, Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, the library and the Lost Island, every obscure theme added to a great night of comedy and entertainment.
Aziz Ansari’s impeccable comic timing and originality sets the bar high for comedians looking to make it big and this is really just the start for him. At only 26 years of age, Ansari has surely reached an accomplishment to which we just have to mimic Dan Levy and say, “Congrats on your success!”