“Aziz Ansari: Nightclub Comedian” Review

Story posted February 3, 2022 in CommRadio, Arts & Entertainment by Sophia D’Ovidio

The following article briefly mentions sexual misconduct. For resources on sexual misconduct and more, please visit https://www.rainn.org/ThatsHarassment.

Aziz Ansari is a recognizable name for many, especially for comedy fans, but it’s definitely a name most haven’t heard in the past few years.

Ansari rose to fame on the hit series “Parks and Recreation,” which aired from 2009 to 2015. Immediately following this, Ansari created his own Netflix series, “Master of None,” and starred in the first two seasons, but was not an actor in the third.

Other than his 2019 Netflix special “Aziz Ansari: Right Now,” the comedian has been absent from pop culture recently.

So, fans may have been surprised when Netflix announced that Ansari would be coming out with a new comedy special on January 25th entitled “Aziz Ansari: Nightclub Comedian.”

This new special was a surprise set in The Comedy Cellar, a top-comedy club in New York City. Ansari got his start as a stand-up comic, so this special is somewhat symbolic for the comedian.

Naming the special “Nightclub Comedian” is rather honest to what his set is. Most Netflix specials are around an hour and in a big theater. But Ansari's set is 30 minutes, typical for a comic in a nightclub.

The best way to describe Ansari's set is lackluster.

Rather than the flashy comedian many think of when they think of Ansari, he was much tamer. While being flashy isn’t necessary for a good stand-up set, it was evident that this standup style isn’t natural to Ansari.

The set never becomes bad, but it’s exceptionally mild and at times feels empty; like Ansari’s take on an issue, it never comes across as something he’s passionate about.

The real exception to this is when Ansari talks about his late uncle, who passed from COVID-19 after refusing to get the vaccine. The moment is intimate but rather somber for a stand-up set, especially a short one.

However, the real issue with the set was how condescending Ansari came off at times. Throughout the special, Ansari shared his take on vaccination and celebrity culture. It isn’t Ansari's takes that are an issue but how he presents them.

Ansari pokes fun at those making fun of Aaron Rodgers for his vaccination stance, comparing them to teasing the quarterback for failing a science test. However, Ansari ends this bit by pleading to his audience to have empathy for anti-vaxxers.

It’s not that Ansari is wrong, but within a relatively short stand-up set, Ansari seems to spend much of his time preaching about social media and celebrity culture rather than joking about it. Along with this, Ansari's commentary doesn’t come across as genuine.

It is clear that Ansari is trying to rebrand himself as a comic. The once flashy and suave comedian is dressed down and evidently trying to relate to his audience. Yet, this rebrand is not natural and comes across as quite calculated.

Ansari was involved in a sexual misconduct allegation at the beginning of 2018, which explains his aforementioned absence from pop culture. While he addressed this in his special “Aziz Ansari: Right Now,” it is evident that his career has taken a turn due to the incident.

So, when Ansari tells the crowd that he’s only used a flip phone for the past four years to avoid indulging in celebrity culture, it comes across as superficial. Anyone who was vaguely aware of Ansaris allegations would likely be able to piece together that his “social media blackout” probably had other motivation.

It will be interesting to see how Ansari's career moves forward from here. It is evident that he wants to establish himself as a relatable comic, trading in his swagger for empathy.

But for his most recent special, it is clear that Ansari prioritized his rebranding over the actual content of his set.

Rating: 2/5 stars

Sophia D’Ovidio is a first-year majoring in communications. To contact her email sgd5184@psu.edu.