Thanks to Aziz Ansari, Judge Erich Asperschlager no longer has a fear of intimacy.
With Love, Aziz.
Although he's best known for Parks and Recreation, Aziz Ansari started his comedic life as a stand-up, performing at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York and landing a spot on Rolling Stone's "Hot List" in 2005. He broke onto television as one-third of the sketch comedy group Human Giant, whose show ran on MTV for approximately 8 minutes—or two seasons, I can't remember which. Several minor TV roles and an online feud with "fake IMAX" later, he was offered the role of Tom Haverford on NBC's small town mockumentary. Now, Aziz Ansari fans get to see where it all began (figuratively speaking) with the release of his first stand-up special, Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening, recorded during his Glow In The Dark tour.
If you only know Aziz Ansari from Parks and Recreation, Intimate Moments might be a bit of a shock, not just because he swears a lot, but because Ansari isn't your typical stand-up comedian. In fact, curse words and sex jokes might be the only things he has in common with other big-name stand-up comics. Aziz Ansari's sense of humor is rooted in the alternative comedy scene associated with venues like the Upright Citizens Brigade theater, viral video web sites, and podcasts like Never Not Funny and Comedy Death Ray, and much of his success is due to his active online participation.
Like everyone under 30, Ansari spends a good portion of his life online, and isn't afraid to bring that love of the internet to the stage. Usually, when a stand-up makes a reference to Facebook, it's as punchline to a joke about computers being confusing or lame. When Ansari mentions Facebook, Twitter, or Google, they're just places where funny stuff happens, no different to him than a visit to Bed, Bath & Beyond or Coldstone Creamery. Parts of his routine are less "telling jokes" than they are "reading a series of funny messageboard posts from the time he pretended to be in his cousin's ninth grade history class."
Intimate Moments is an eclectic mash-up of observations and personal stories that include the perils of trading sex on Craig's List, the truth about thread counts, messing with his cousin on Facebook, MTV reality television, hanging out with Kanye West, and the insane showmanship of R. Kelly. Ansari brings infectious enthusiasm to the things that interest him, even (perhaps especially) if those things seem out of place in the average stand-up special.
Ansari's stand-up has a lot in common with his sketch comedy. Rather than simple set-ups and punch lines, he finds premises he can riff on for a while—coming up with various ways a redneck he saw in a cruise ship video might review products, for example, or imagining what embarrassing website he'll be visiting when he dies in a Blackberry-related car crash.
Nowhere is his sketch background more apparent than his fake stand-up character RAAAAAAAANDY, created for the Judd Apatow film Funny People. Ansari closes out his show with ten minutes of a fictional Randy stand-up special, complete with DJ announcer, dry ice, back-up dancers, and Randy's trademark bombastically filthy routine.
Aziz Ansari: Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening is presented in widescreen with stereo sound—a good way to watch a guy walk around a stage and tell jokes. The disc's lone bonus feature is a 30-plus minute set of additional material, recorded especially for the DVD as part of the Comedy Death Ray stage show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Los Angeles. Although some of these jokes are a little more niche than what Ansari includes in the special, the bonus set is just as funny as the main feature. If you needed a reason to buy Intimate Moments on disc when you could watch it on Comedy Central for free, this is it.
To be very clear, even though this was shown on Comedy Central, the DVD performance is unedited. I'm not exactly sure how Comedy Central aired a special that includes jokes about rape, child molestation, and RAAAAAAAANDY without some heavy-handed editing.
As suggested by the title, Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening is the perfect way for fans old and new to spend a night (well, 55 minutes anyway) with off-beat comedian Aziz Ansari. He's hilarious. While you're at the store buying this DVD, go ahead and pick up Human Giant: Season One as well. Aziz may be on the rise, but I'm sure he could use the money. Renting stuffed polar bears for DVD cover art can't be cheap.
Whatever intimate moments I may have spent with Mr. Ansari have nothing to do
with my verdict: Not Guilty!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Comedy Central
• Bonus Performance
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