Whew! When looking at guys like Russell Peters or Aziz Ansari, it is easy to note their breakthrough quality – their ethnicity. Indeed simply BEING from another country gave Yakov Smirnov his entire career. When one is lauded for being a trailblazer, it comes with it a mixed blessing. Certainly trailblazing is a tremendous achievement – breaking into any area is important. That Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner or, let’s face it, most of Sidney Poitier’s movies age poorly does not deny the importance of his stardom. However, the “first” is really congratulated for being first, and not for quality. Even Jackie Robinson, while appropriately lauded for breaking the color line in baseball, is not appropriately lauded for being a great second baseman. When I sat down to watch Aziz Ansari: Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening, I was hoping that it would be funny, and not just be nice that there is a good Indian-American comic out there. Aziz Ansari fortunately was able to take that concern off the table very early on as he tries to justify walking past a gay rights activist to go into a Jamba Juice – I laughed early, I laughed often and sometimes I laughed very hard.
Ansari, a skinny twerp with a full beard who sounds like a 13 year old, is a performer of remarkable energy and a wit that darts between genial and inane. There is SOME minor sociopolitical commentary early, but he undercuts it with a smile. For instance his segment on gay rights immediately follows into a description of purchasing sheets at Bed, Bath and Beyond. It is hard to describe without giving away jokes, and I would not dream of doing that. However, he touches a lot of areas, from his family, the American policy of giving foreigners a quick path to a green card if they go to an underserved area like Alabama (“it’s like being able to see a girl naked, but just her elbow … and the elbow’s racist”) to being a music fan and his hilarious speculation on how white people must feel when their movies make it big. And then there is his R Kelly story, which Jimmy Kimmel ALREADY GAVE AWAY:
I laughed. Definitely worth finding.