By Zachary Swickey
LOS ANGELES – I felt pretty lucky to catch Aziz Ansari Saturday night as he performed a new, “in-progress” set at the intimate Largo, which only holds 280 people and has a strict no cell phones policy. Ansari is most famously known as Tom Haverford on NBC’s hit comedy “Parks Recreation,” and he boasts a whopping 1.6 million followers on Twitter (yet, I recall the old days when he only had 25k).
The special guest for the night was Ansari’s real-life chum Nick Kroll, who co-stars on FX’s “The League” and voices the character “Stu” on one of TV’s most underappreciated gems, “The Life & Times of Tim” from HBO. Kroll bragged about “being down with hip-hop,” saying he even owned a copy of Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter IV, which he probably got from Ansari (a huge rap enthusiast in real life).
Kroll then did a hilarious interpretation of what a censored rap song looks and sounds like. The comedian also pointed out that famous bodybuilder Jack LaLanne’s wife’s first name was Elaine – Elaine LaLanne – which he (and admittedly we) all found pretty funny.
Kroll soon introduced Ansari to the stage, who looked very dapper in an old-school tux. Ansari has been on the rise for years. He hosted the 2010 MTV Movie Awards, has one of the funniest Comedy Central stand-up specials around and starred in last year’s “30 Minutes or Less” with Jesse Eisenberg.
The beginning of Ansari’s set focused on where he is in life as a 28-year-old. He talked about not being ready to have a baby even though plenty of his friends are and most already have them, saying he had a crippling fear of dropping one of said friends’ babies and the general responsibilities of being a parent in today’s world. For example, he found the prospect of finding a babysitter – who are usually kids themselves – “terrifying” and urged people not to “get one off Craigslist.” He also wondered how he would explain sexually provocative gym ads that can be seen all over town to his children if he were to have any.
The highlights of Ansari’s set were the several occasions when he put members of the crowd into the spotlight. After taking a poll of who had tried online dating (it required two polling attempts since no one wanted to admit ever doing it), Ansari pointed out several fans in the audience and point-blank asked them about their experiences, saying that the dating service people used said a lot about them. For example, OKCupid is for people who “want to f**k tonight,” he joked.
He also didn’t understand some people’s reasoning for getting married. He teased one couple in the audience who had gotten married after dating for “just two years.” He said he could be wrong but his money would be on “divorce” in that scenario. Ansari was then amazed by some high-school sweethearts in the crowd – something he also found “interesting” – until the husband of the couple revealed the two had dated “off and on” since high school before marrying, which totally changed Ansari’s perspective.
Throughout the evening Ansari touched on a number of other topics, such as the gross growing trend of men sending d**k pics, the advantages of online dating and how he likes to prank his friends with fake “sext” messages. His new material was as funny as ever and I urge anyone and everyone to catch his show if you’re lucky enough to have the comedian coming through your town.