While his friends are getting married and having kids, it’s clear that the comedian man-child Ansari is not prepared to take the plunge himself. From the very start of his new Netflix special Buried Alive, it’s obvious that much of the material comes from his own personal experiences and issues he’s been wrestling with. What follows is a sobering and funny look at dating, marriage, parenthood, discrimination and politics.
Back in April, I attended the last show of Aziz Ansari’s Buried Alive tour in Philadelphia. It was this show that was taped for the special. I remember walking out of the show that night and being surprised.
I’ve seen Ansari’s previous live shows. At his previous performances, he was not unlike a Tazmanian Devil on speed. While his energy and enthusiasm could be infectious, the lack of peaks and valleys could be tiring for some. It wasn’t a surprise to see his comedian peers do impressions of him by shout-talking at a high pitch. His previous shows’ famous topics included Coldstone ice cream, his cousin Harris, and Kanye West. All funny, but rarely did he make you think.
In contrast, Buried Alive is 90 minutes of what almost seems like Ansari trying to justify his decision to enjoy his bachelorhood. He mixes sometimes faux-scientific research, personal experiences and audience experiences with entertaining and thought-provoking results. While this could have the risk of becoming too preachy, he never does. Instead, it’s clear that he doesn’t take his views too seriously and offers them up to the audience in a take-it-or-leave-it-but-please-enjoy-it manner. After watching the show again seven months later, I still find myself appreciating what I saw.
Something that didn’t make it onto the taped special but I truly did appreciate is an encore where Ansari took “requests” from the audience but told them he would not be doing any of his old material. This was something I couldn’t understand from previous shows I attended. WHY WOULD YOU ASK HIM TO DO BITS YOU COULD LISTEN TO ANY TIME YOU WANT?? With every additional request for “Raaaaaandy” or “Harris”, I felt a growing urge to slap some sense into the people in the crowd. Instead Ansari gave us a preview of material he had been working on. Just another sign that both as a performer and a person, Aziz Ansari is growing up.
G.B. doesn’t stand for Gareth Bale. It might stand for Graduated, Barely (from law school). After spending time in Texas and Pennsylvania, he now lives in Northern California where he makes gifs and watches a lot of TV, movies and sports.