Music and comedy? Closer than you think. That is why every now and then, our new segment Laugh Track will take a look at a funny person of interest with a new DVD or CD release.
Although comedians are no strangers to large music festivals (they are a staple at Bonaroo), the active participation of several in recent years has really solidified comedy's place in the world of music (and vice versa). Like live music, there is something great about the chemistry of live comedy that cannot be changed by the advent of television, records, whatever; the active participation in a crowd of people, the mass enjoyment, and the feeling of being a part of something, all elevate a joke to new heights. Comedy, some might say, is a bit purer... almost all recordings of solo comedians are live shows caught on tape. There is something sacred about the connection between a performer and their audience, especially in comedy, a medium that depends heavily on a specific reaction from it's participants. Luckily for our generation, we live in a world where the truly talented funny peoples have millions of ways to shine: web 2.0, TV shows, movies, and dozens of late night appearances, not to mention stand-up and variety shows. Comedy is often cited as a universal crowd pleaser; make 'em laugh, bring 'em together. Rarely is it as polarizing as the fragmented genres of music (minus the level of offensive material). Honestly, every comedian I've ever met or had the pleasure of hanging with has been the coolest.
However, not all comedians are created equal. Certainly the young, pop culture obsessed crowd of today's world can recognize that some laugh-machines work better than others in churning out hip, credible jokery and hi-jinx that appeal to the trend setters. For example: the ensemble cast of NBC Thursday comedy has always been a favorite of the blogosphere, specifically The Office. Now the similarly staged Parks and Recreation has quickly gained a thumbs-up from the giggle-hungry masses. One of its best traits is the inclusion of stand-up comedian and funny person Aziz Ansari.
Ansari began his career right here in New York while attending NYU. Ansari was a participant in The Upright Citizens Brigade, and later Human Giant, a sketch comedy show he participated in with Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer (as well as director Jason Wolineck), which proved successful on MTV. He earned a guest spot on Flight of The Conchords as a racist fruit vendor and a recurring role in Scrubs, before finally landed the role of Tom Haverford on NBC's Parks and Recreation (I'm sure he has done other things, IMDB, but I'm summarizing). His appearance in Funny People, as the extremely hilarious character Raaaaaaaandy!, was immensely popular (with me, and the world too, probably). Not to spoil his DVD, but expect an appearance.
For more on the origins of Raaaaaaaandy (MORE SPOILERS ALERT):
Ansari is an active blogger and a great follow on Twitter, two things that definitely add to his cred with web savvy fans. I know from keeping up with him that he likes Beach House (bonus points), and even actively participates in the dissemination of new music (a nice way of saying posts MP3's). And he recently interviewed Animal Collective in a very non-traditional email exchange for The Fader. But the most attractive thing about Ansari isn't his taste in music or his keeping-up-with-the-e-jonses. It's his humor.
Ansari, like many of today's best comedians, combines a satisfying blend of everyday Seinfeld "whats the deal with..." and pop culture tidbits. The jokes on his first DVD Intimate Moments For A Sensual Evening aren't all new; some are bits he has been working on for some time. But the laughs do NOT stop. I watched the advance DVD last night and was literally beside myself. As a late night hero (and soon legend) once said, "put on your giggle turbans... we're going to Laughganistan."
Moments is a defining piece for the young comedian. Ansari's humor is vulgar, irreverent, unapologetic, and often personal (or at least convincingly faux-personal). "Intimate" is a funny title for sure, but the truth is that the "intimacy" of the jokes is the main selling point in Ansari's work... something both relateable and completely absurd. From stories of his cousin's online beef with Kanye West (see above picture), to his unbearable roommate, Ansari makes us feel like we're just a bunch of friends griping about our lives, telling tall tales, recounting the sometimes extraordinarily hilarious things that occur to us. He is one of those guys that everyone thinks they could be friends with.
He is definitely part of a community that gets humor in 2010, and many of them chimed in on the DVD cover. I will happily recount them here:
"Nobody makes me laugh harder than Azizi Ansari. And I don't even find him funny" - Judd Apatow
"It's like a DVD with jokes on it!" - Patton Oswalt
"Aziz Ansari is hilarious. Buy this or everyone you know will think you're a real d**k." - The Onion AV Club
There are plenty of reasons to have this classic on your shelf, not to mention the extra thirty minutes of stand-up featuring bits left out of the original show (bonus materials). Ansari has made multiple late night appearances, and they might give the clueless people an idea of how funny this guy can be. Here he is with the aforementioned late-night guru Conan, on The Tonight Show:
There really isn't much else to say... the jokes speak for themselves. You don't want to miss this.
Intimate Moments For A Sensual Evening is available for purchase 1/19, and airs on Comedy Central, well, you already know the details if you just watched that video. Do yourself a favor and get on board with Ansari and his various projects... he is definitely a notable name of comedy for many years to come. -joe puglisi