Aziz Ansari

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

Aziz Ansari has a part in Judd Apatow’s new movie Funny People as a hack comedian who substitutes analysis for inspiration, with every nuance of his physical delivery scientifically determined. Raaaaaaaandy might be a small role, but an important part of the viral campaign to promote the release.

Performing as himself, Ansari is sometimes dangerously close to the parody, sometimes brilliantly inventive. It’s a strange split personality: how can the same comedian who came up with the fantastic routine about the unlikely subject of the thread count in bed linen also trot out obvious jokes about predictive texts, Montreal’s strip clubs or getting stoned at a music festival?

Like virtually every comedian at this festival, Ansari has his Facebook ‘bit’, and like everyone else, it’s not much cop; while a routine about handing out with Kanye West seems designed to drop names rather than punchlines. On the other hand, a brilliant gag about a lazy rapist is more-than adequate compensation.

He delivers with verve that mostly appeals, but sometimes irritates, especially in the relentlessly upbeat language: I bristled at the number of times he told us he was ‘psyched’ to be doing something.

In this enthusiasm, he echoes Raaaaaaaandy, a character broadly similar to the spiritual vacuum that is Dane Cook. He gave us five minutes or so of this brand of comedy, driven by cadence and choreography more than creativity and proved that – in short doses at least – that can be enough. The spoof works on two levels: with laughs coming from him prancing around as much as the knowing chuckles at the comedy in-joke. Ansari’s own position in the comedy gagosphere is just as hard to nail down.

Review date: 27 Jul 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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