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Monday, October 06, 2014

Show Review: Aziz Ansari & Joe Mande at the Orpheum Theater

Aziz Ansari and his girlfriend, Courtney McBroom.  McBroom is a chef and published Author, also journalist and writer.  If you are at all a fan of Aziz Ansari, the fact that he has a girlfriend is the most important thing to know.


Show Review:
Aziz Ansari & Joe Mande
at the Orpheum Theater
Los Angeles, CA.

  On Friday night I saw Aziz Ansari do what was essentially a series of smaller, LA area warm ups for the big show at Madison Square Garden this coming Thursday.  I'm a huge fan of Aziz, and I'm sure that some of this review would constitute a "spoiler," so if you have tickets to the show this week don't read past the photograph until after the show.  No excuses.
Aziz Ansari performed at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles last Friday.

  So I'm a big Aziz Ansari fan- I remember watching his videos on the internet before he was on television.  I've certainly seen all the stand-up specials upon debut or ckoe thse to it: Comedy Central, Netflix, etc.  One thing you have to say straight up about Aziz as an Artist is that he is a hard working guy, I feel like the last Netflix special was not more than a few months back, and I chatted with my date about whether this would be "100% new material." (we both thought it would be because of the Madison Square Gaden show.

  I'm certain that the Madison Square Garden will have stuff added- some bits maybe, and you would have to imagine that we will call in ALL his favors with his celebrity buddies for the MSG two night stand.  The main bits revolved around factory farming and feminism- which to me seemed like an attempt by Ansari to have a couple signature bits that have some social consciousness element.  The back end was largely his relationship stuff but interestingly including his new relationship with Courtney McBroom, a chef at Momofuku and Milk Bar in New York city.  I'm only putting her name in because she's a published author and does press and obviously wouldn't object to having her mentioned in a totally neutral fashion.

  I don't know Aziz, but the long time fandom and solid "one degree" of separation between the two of us make me feel like I do.  Because this blog specifically deals with the relationship between Artist and Audience, I think I can convincingly argue both that stand up is an Art form worthy of serious aesthetic consideration, and that Ansari is a serious Artist in this feel, and that you can tell this by his combination of technique and theme, and his obvious success in connecting with a significant audience.

  It's a very obvious thing to talk about Aziz Ansari's technique, whether one wants to appreciate it or criticize it.  I think it's just a simple fact that it "works" and that people love it, and people who criticize it are either ignorant, or haters or both.  The influence of hip hop on Ansari's delivery is well commented upon. I personally believe that the primary influence on Ansari is Chris Rock, and that Rock is essentially the career path that Aziz Ansari.  I say that as a fan of Rock, but as someone who lost interest with his "serious" projects, including a remake of some french relationship drama that I really should have been into.

  I would imagine that he is looking past stand up, since Madison Square Garden is basically "it" in that area.  Given that he originally worked in video/online, and that he has balanced the stand up with a long-time role on cult classic and still on NBC comedy Parks & Rec., I'm sure the goal is to have his own production company and do whatever the fuck he wants to do.

  I'm not sure that this show was any kind of a "go out on a high note" career transition, typically stand ups get to do marriage material, kid material, or they can drop out of the stand up game and move on to flim and television.  So, the fact that he's "doing" relationship material- which is DEFINITELY the high light for any long time Ansari fan.

 Ansari has risen on his "single guy" relationship material, and his television character is a perpetually frustrated would-be lothario.  His extended discussion of one night stands as "Skittles" and relationships as a "healthy salad" had the ring of something that will inspire t-shirts and catch phrases.  That ending bit with the factory farming/feminism bits are the three "hits" that one would expect to hear on a hit record, and I will be interested to see if I'm right about that as these bits permeate outward from the Artist.

  Long time fans won't be disappointed, people coming because of the television show won't be disappointed either.  It isn't raw, but we're talking Chris Rock not Eddie Murphy.  I think something that happens to all Artists is that they are radical at the beginning, to draw attention, and then generally mellow and leaven commensurate with obtaining a larger, and more general audience.  I think this is probably as close as a "rule" as you can get when discussing the relationship between artist and audience, and I think Ansari has figured this out in terms of his own career, and has done a good job coming up with a work that can please both the smaller audience of core fans and a larger audience of new ones.

  If I could make one humble suggestion it would to have him do something about his family back in India, I think that would be amazing and interesting.

 Opener Joe Mande had a solid opening set- including a spectacular peace about smoking pot in the form of "dabs" that I found very amusing.

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