LIVE: Aziz Ansari @ the Palace Theatre, 5/14/13

Review by Erin Harkes

Aziz Ansari performed at the Palace Theatre last Tuesday night, and I’m still laughing days later.

The show opened with an announcement by “DJ Eggplant Parm,” who was clearly and hilariously Anzari. Set some ground rules for behavior that should go without saying but, alas, never does. Here are some common sense manners. Please and thank you.

Opener Moshe Kasher was succinct and hilarious. Flawlessly opened with the typical “insert-your-city-here” joke, which every crowd eats right up. Referred to his attire as “Hipster Dockworker,” which was uproarious. Recognized and poked fun at the overall whiteness of the audience and then teased everyone with his sexual ambiguity. His set time was the absolute perfect length – just enough to warm up, but still leave the audience wanting to Google him soon after.

Then, without introduction or fanfare, Aziz Ansari took the stage to gradual erupting applause. It was an interesting approach that made most audience members kind of go, “Oh, wow, look who it is!” Anzari took the stage in a stylish three-piece suit, opening the show by telling the audience how obnoxious and distracting it is to have his picture taken during the performance… so if you must take a picture, take it now. While the flashes went off in the audience, he joked about how the pictures wouldn’t come out anyway, and everyone would be confused later when looking at them. He went on to ask that people not play with their phones because there’s nothing that can’t wait an hour, and regardless of the hundreds of other attentive audience members he was most likely going to notice you. Then he endeared us with a bit of vulnerability. He even got this iPhone addict to put hers away for the rest of the show’s entirety.

He juxtaposed that vulnerability with some unassuming arrogance. He talked about a previous show in which he didn’t go after a few certain audience members. They seemed to not be getting into him, and he left them alone in case they were retarded. He laughed about his overly confident approach to that. “Because clearly if they’re not into my jokes, they MUST be retarded.” Later he touched upon this confidence, saying that he was never molested as a child because he was just too good looking and most likely intimidating.

His audience rapport was great. He would poll the audience and had a joke no matter what the response was. He poked fun at anyone who was married after knowing their partner for less than two years. He singled out a couple, asking them about how long they’d known each other before they got engaged and was able to respond so quickly to their answers it was hard to believe it wasn’t rehearsed.

He asked the women to applaud and to applaud again if they’d been sent a “dick pic.”

“Notice there was no difference in the amount of applause?” he quipped.

The crowd was a mixed bag of age and social stature, and yet Ansari’s jokes appealed to each audience member at one point or another. Many of his jokes had a grand finale feel that made me think the show was almost over – where can he go from here? Higher he went each time and even came back to a standing ovation for the first encore I’ve ever seen in a comedy show – a well-deserved one at that.

If you’re hoping to take your relationship to the next level then this is not a good date night. He will ply you with too many hilarious examples of why you should not… especially if you’ve met someone online the same way he can find chicken nuggets at the nearest Wendy’s. A better date for those couples might be, as Anzari said many, many times while mocking an audience member, “a very nice Chinese dinner.”

Steve Barnes’ review at The Times Union

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