A far cry from what the title of his Netflix series Master of None might suggest, comedian Aziz Ansari has mastered all of the television roles handed to him over the course of his ever-expanding career. From the cocky and mischievous Tom Haverford of NBC’s comedic gem/goldmine Parks and Recreation to his Netflix mega-hit’s sensitive but strong-willed protagonist Dev Shah, Ansari’s characters are insanely likeable—thanks not so much to the witty writing, but rather to Ansari’s hilarious delivery, infectious enthusiasm, and impressive acting versatility.
Ansari is the proud owner of a unique comedy style that’s hard to pin down. He’s sarcastic and honest without being smug. He’s socially aware and gentle without being a bore. The comedian has a firm grasp on his moral compass, but not nearly to the extent of being pompous or pretentious. Though incredibly optimistic at times, Ansari also has a funny habit of slipping into the somber, stark realities of humanity that most people would rather not acknowledge. See any Master of None episode for a smorgasbord of social issues like racism, gender equality, and public indecency—you name it, Ansari has already comically, critically, and intellectually examined it.
He covers it all: life, death, horrifically awkward social situations that might make one crave the cold and unforgiving hand of death rather than live with embarrassment. In doing so, however, he allows for open conversation about social issues that aren’t too pretty, ultimately coming up with one of those grand silver lining, why-not-make-the-best-of-it kind of conclusions.
If the comedy realm was a microcosm for society, and comedians were akin to personality types, Ansari would be that unnaturally positive kid who skips all the way to the ice cream shop and enjoys the first three licks before his cone crashes to the ground. He would look down at his once-delicious dessert for a while—pondering life’s uncertainties and vocalizing deep existential worries, perhaps brooding over the futility of our efforts and the brevity of human life—before shrugging his shoulders with a smile and saying something downright adorable like, “Well, if I can’t enjoy a tasty ice cream cone, at least that little pigeon can!”
His show is like that, too. Almost every episode, just an average day-in-the-life of Dev, is as bubbly and optimistic as its quirky protagonist, despite being rife with societal concerns and righting other people’s wrongs. There’s always a racist boss or some deviant masturbating on the subway for Dev and his ragtag friends to bust Scooby-Doo style. The gang saves the day by calling people out for their misdemeanors, ruminating over the sordid state of society for a hot second, then looking to the bright side of things as the episode culminates in an enthusiastic group high-five. Ansari’s is both a pleasant and painful kind of comedy, a refreshing lightheartedness that isn’t afraid to tread into the mire of societal flaws and mourn the loss of human decency for a bit. Considering all that’s been going on in the world these days, there’s never been a better time for Ansari’s special kind of comedy.
Ansari’s stand up is equally as timely as it is entertaining. He’s quirky and fun, trendy and a frequent user of hip lingo the kids are into like “dope” and “sweet.” Everything about Ansari is relevant and relatable, from his Converse All Stars to his accurate jokes and analogies.
An excerpt from his book Modern Romance easily and humorously explains the nature of millennial relationships, but with a notable Ansarian twist. “Today we’ve become far more accepting of alternative lifestyles, and people move in and out of different situations: single with roommates, single and solo, single with partner, married, divorced, divorced and living with an iguana, remarried with iguana, then divorced with seven iguanas because your iguana obsession ruined your relationship, and, finally, single with six iguanas (Arturo was sadly run over by an ice cream truck).”
Everything he says just makes sense, regardless of how silly or nonsensical it may sound. He itches to talk about the important things in life, all the while avoiding sexually explicit content and out-of-line statements most comedians use to elicit cheap laughs.
Though Ansari’s TV show has recently propelled him to a high level of popularity, the reign of this up-and coming comedy king is just beginning, his 15 minutes of fame nowhere near its end. Arguably one of the most influential comedians and effective communicators of his time, Ansari is well-deserving of his immense success thus far.
With a refreshing and relaxed comedy style chock-full of witty one-liners, Ansari is the gentle and thoughtful comedian that the world needs right now.
Neither harsh nor unfair, Ansari’s comedy goes down smooth, dares the audience to embrace the uncomfortable, and ultimately leaves a fuzzy feeling by the end. It’s like sitting down with delicious hot chocolate on a cold winter’s night—that is, until the piping hot liquid spills all over your new striped pajamas and onto the floor.
Then again, Aziz might add, you really didn’t need those extra calories to begin with, did you?
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