Aziz Ansari: Right Now brings us a more mature Aziz, reminiscent of Dave Chappelle’s The Bird Revelation, but still presenting the manic persona many have come to love.
|Genre(s)||Stand Up Comedy|
|Good If You Like||
|Isn’t For You If You||Want Aziz To Be Completely Remorseful And Not Seem Like He Isn’t Pushing Back A Little Bit|
|Introduced This Episode|
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After being accused of sexual misconduct, even called a “sexual predator” by some, Ansari found himself lumped with the likes of Bill Cosby and Louis C.K. as the #MeToo movement swept through comedy. However, more than a year later, after the accusation, he returns to the stage and isn’t shy about how he feels. He opens with addressing it, noting how it left him, scared, embarrassed, and ultimately felt like a teachable moment. But then he moves on.
Well, he kind of moves on. At the heart of Right Now, the idea of context and being present is strongly presented. Also, communication is a really big thing. Which, if you think about it too much, could be low-key jabs at his accuser. Since miscommunication was the issue at hand.
But, generally, outside of his scandal, the problem Aziz has is how quick people are to react, even to fake news. He also uses the audience and tricks them twice to show how ready people are to act to misinformation in the pursuit of speaking out more than listening, understanding, and having a real discussion. Yet, he acknowledges how hard that has become. He’s a comedian who noted how much he loved R. Kelly in the past, and how on Parks and Rec, his character gave a girl a nanny cam to spy on her. All of which wouldn’t be appropriate if done today. Yet, out of context, someone could bring that up and make a big deal out of it.
And, in the end, all it seems Aziz wants for society is to not jump to conclusions. The internet presents confirmation bias, and rarely are there conversations. Everyone comes with their own opinion before they know the facts. So just be present, be attentive, don’t be scared of the awkwardness and learning something. For whether it is strangers or your parents, all you have is the right now. Don’t waste it.
Collected Quote(s) or .Gifs
When He Got Solemn
In the special, because this does deserve to be called a special, Aziz tones things down and gets serious with the audience a few times. Mostly when he is talking about his family. His grandmother with Alzheimer’s and recognizing his parent’s mortality. In this, we get to see a more mature Aziz. One who, alongside with dealing with the accusation of last year, is also recognizing all he has in life. How easily it could be gone with just a snap.
Which, for him, was money and doing what he loves. However, for his grandmother, it is memories. Be it remembering her sister died or short term memories like who is this new person in her home? Which, after spending a day or two with her forced him to realize he needs to be more present. Then, when it comes to his parents, he jokes about how they only spend a weekend together a few times a year, and it is very disconnected. But, how many of those weekends does he really have left?
He ponders, and this is where the Chappelle comparison comes from, about how he met his grandmother, his parents, after they were no longer wild and fully themselves. He knows them by the title he calls them. So he pushes the audience to know who your parents were, who your grandparents were, before you existed. To really bond with them since they’ve known you your whole life but you only know a small bit of theirs. And, in the long run, your stories of them is what will keep them alive. Not in the physical sense, but in terms of memories.
How He Originally Handled The Accusations
Traditionally, comedians are supposed to be those who either make what is happening in the world digestible or wake you up from your stupor. They are the outsider who was given a platform and has something to say. Yet, things get complicated when what happened to them is what they have to make digestible. When it isn’t something like Richard Pryor lighting himself on fire, but Aziz being seen as a sexual predator who doesn’t understand “No means no” and if someone isn’t an excited participant, you should also take that as a no.
At the top of the special, he addresses it with a joke. One dealing with being mistaken with Hasan Minhaj and saying he was the one who made that woman uncomfortable. But when the laughter dies down, he gets serious about what happened. Takes ownership in a way, and lets the moment breathe before getting into being the comedian people paid to see.
Commentary On Woke People, White Or Otherwise
One of the big focuses on Right Now is how annoying things have gotten when it comes to racism, cultural appropriation, and a lot of social justice topics. Especially in regards to call-out culture and focusing more on embarrassing people than talking to them. But, he also brings up white guilt and how it can often come off not genuine, and like its all a game about appearances. Making it ultimately see, and feel, that it is more about how white people are perceived than actual human decency. Which, while pointed at white people, could be said about just about everyone who decides to aggressively pursue wokeness.
Noting Cultural Context
Most comedians have an issue with old jokes, specials, and social media postings being used out of context. However, while many are indignant about it, as if they deserve some sort of exemption due to their profession, Aziz recognizes jokes don’t age well. Be it the Parks and Rec bit noted in the summary, and other things he has said throughout his career. But, he also reminds people that we’re in different times. For example, before him, how many Indian people did you see on MTV and other major networks? Apu and the guy in No Doubt. Someone who, with the dynamics of that group, didn’t get any real platform. He was just a member of the band.
With everyone getting a comedy taping, it makes specials feel rare. We don’t get the same sense of growth or feel like the comedian is at a new chapter of their life or has anything new to same. That isn’t the case with Right Now. After Aziz’s scandal, he seems reflective and is dealing with that and all that it forced him to realize as a person, a comedian, a man, and a racial minority in America. Making it so, if you’ve been following Aziz’s career, as he says, it makes it seem that zany little Indian dude is gone and Aziz can’t bring him back.
Between a guy named Ben, this 10-year-old named Tyler, and a few others who went unnamed, Aziz’s crowd work was ace. He didn’t pander to them to make them feel recognized, but actually involved them. Making for many comical moments that made the special have a heartbeat and give you something to revisit.
On The Fence
His Issues With Internet Commentary
I want to disclaim I could be reading way too much into this, but I gotta admit I feel like Aziz was venting a bit. Perhaps pushing back on how, thanks to an article by a person who didn’t name himself, his career almost ended. That thanks to call-out culture, which is more about taking someone down for clout than an actual discussion, he could have lost nearly everything.
Now, mind you, he doesn’t directly put it out there, but one could draw conclusions. For as he talks about confirmation bias, and how easily swayed people are, you can tell he is taking jabs at the general public, perhaps his accuser. Especially since he puts out there how easily his audience will believe stuff and how even he, jokingly, watches YouTube videos on himself and could be led to believe stuff he knows isn’t true.
Which, again, isn’t to say Aziz is directly calling out his accuser or the publisher of their article. However, there is this vibe of not taking everything on face value, and him not just talking about what we see in the news and social media. That things you see and read about him should be included.
Overall: Positive (Watch This)
While his Osama Bin Landen 9/11 joke may raise an eyebrow, alongside what could be considered him low-key lashing out, vs. sticking to a PR script, for the most part Right Now is entertaining and makes for an awesome comeback. One that reminds you why Aziz is a beloved comedian and has had such longevity in his career. Beyond being one of the few mainstream Indian stand up comics, never mind one of the few Indian comedic actors who are given the opportunity to not only star in productions but write them as well – to both commercial and critical acclaim.
Hence why you should watch Right Now. What Aziz Ansari gives is a showing of growth beyond being a comic, but also a person. Which makes it appear he is one of the few to recognize when you tape a set, it should have something to say. Not just be material you are ready to sell to boost the brand, and that’s it. As it appears for many others, that has become the norm.