When asked the question, “If you could have dinner and drinks with one person on the planet right now, who would it be?”, we all search our brains. We can never figure it out. We've all been confronted with this trivial question, it leaves people standing there, blank, with a look on their face that screams shit now their going to know I don't have a passion or look up to anybody significant, NOOO! But, when we do eventually answer, we instantly jump to world leaders, political figures, philanthropists, silicon valley entrepreneurs, or maybe sports heroes. The familiarity of the question is carried in its irony, I know I will never get to sit down for a beer with David Cameron or Harrison Ford or Elon Musk, but we ask the rhetorical anyway. The nature of the hypothetical always looks past those who we actually should want to sit down with. And I propose it be Aziz Ansari - the funniest man on the planet.
Disclaimer: I have never met Aziz (but I picture that if we were to meet would be in a poorly lit, well stocked Manhattan bar, making fleeting, confusingly charged eye-contact over a gin and tonic). But, I feel like I know the guy. You might recognise him as the awkward little Indian on Parks and Recreation that coined “Treat yo’self”. Anyone familiar with his work (and if you're not, go sort it out), understands that he's not your usual comedian. He’s the guy that talks about the real life stuff (not your girlfriend farting or the awkwardness of renting an Air B’n’B). Most comedians discuss absolutely meaningless things like the struggles of walking your dog, situations where you're like OH DAMN! I know EXACTLY what he means, MY dog pees on trees and bushes TOO, followed by incessant guilt fuelled laughter as you remind yourself you're better than that joke. Thats not Aziz. You might get the same reaction, but for different reasons.
Aziz talks about the life and times of the millennial, and he gets quite a good response from millennials for it. His most recent stand up, Aziz Ansari: Buried Alive covers everything from the awful wait for a text reply, to meeting people online; from the reasons why we don't call back, to the insanity of marriage and reasons why he will never have kids. He comically assesses the struggles of being aged anywhere between 20-30 years of age in an intensely digital world. It’s fucking brilliant.
It’s this surprisingly relevant material that connects so many millennials to Aziz, and is the mechanism behind him stepping away from his role in Parks and Recreation. His development as a comedian from P&R led to the production of his self-written series, Master of None (which you can stream on Netflix and is funny as hell). Together with his mate Alan Yang, Aziz wrote probably one of the best millennial commentary comedies (if not the only relevant one) ever. Master of None ran away with a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series, it also won a Peabody Award. Not because of it's humour, but because it resonated with so many of us on a very personal level.
This incredible response and Aziz's inquisitive nature led him to write a New York Times Bestselling book about how millennials' operate in a crazy new romantic landscape. Titled Modern Romance: An Investigation, Aziz works alongside psychologists and sociologists to analyse why we do the stupid shit we do, and how we can go about just being better when it comes to our relationships, especially considering how technology has changed the way "romance" works. (Oh, and it's not just funny, its stacked with psychological analysis and sociological reasoning behind stuff like why we reply late when texting someone were attracted to, or why we as a society on average get married much older than we did in the 40s and 50s).
Although I appreciate his role in Parks and Recreation, and his cheeky cameo in Bob’s Burgers as nerdy gamer kid, Daryl, and the accidental subtitling on Planet Earth, theres something about Aziz’s delivery that allows us to all share a moment where we realise fuuuuck, I KNOW, that text he sent was WAY too long, why did he say 'TEXTY introduce" what an idiot!. His short, shy demeanour allows for an honest and direct approach to questions like, what should I send as a first text? Why are my buddies all having kids? How does 50 Cent not know what a grapefruit is?! (but seriously this is f***ing hilarious).
It's the honest-to-god, bull-shit free relate-ability that sets Aziz apart from other comedians. Often commenting on serious societal issues like racism, sexism, douchebaggery (yea thats a serious issue), and not voting, his ability to produce clever quips that are actually totally ordinary is the difference - the reason why we should all be wanting to sit down to a nice Italian dinner (he likes Italian according to his Instagram) with Aziz Ansari.
Title image: https://www.theodysseyonline.com Michael Monday USA Today