Aziz Ansari Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening

Aziz AnsariIntimate Moments for a Sensual Evening
From the second he walks on stage, actor/comedian Aziz Ansari is a fiery ball of energy and hooks, approaching stand-up from a surprisingly musical place on his first ever comedy special. Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening is voice-of-a-new-generation kind of stuff and, as such, isn't for everyone. As a suddenly famous celebrity in his mid-20s, Ansari's topics are fresh and his perspectives come from firsthand experience. So when he delves into tormenting his cousin Harris on Facebook or using his BlackBerry while driving, he's been there, assumes we have too and takes us inside the nuances of gadgetry and culturally acceptable geekdom to come up with something outlandish and funny. It's observational comedy in a hyper-accelerated world full of endless new things to observe. He tackles sex, relationships and race (Ansari's heritage is Indian and he was raised in South Carolina) from an edgy, pop culture-enriched angle. Yet as much as he ridicules and scolds (his dissection of how horrid dating shows like MTV's Next are is priceless), he's also self-conscious enough to know that he's lucky to have such a platform. In certain bits, Ansari acknowledges that his burgeoning fame surprised him; he gets recognized by people he doesn't quite listen to and Kanye West invites him to sit at a table with Jay-Z and perform an impromptu stand-up set at his house. Here's where the stories get extraordinary but, because of his careful sequencing and pacing, Ansari takes us from totally relatable fare to behind-the-scenes celebritydom seamlessly. His language and mannerisms are geared towards a younger, informal audience. With Chris Rock aging and Dave Chappelle dropping in and out of our consciousness sporadically, Ansari is the heir apparent to the kingdom of hip-hop comedians who have altered the playing field. Ansari dances across the stage like a boxer; you have to keep your eyes on him and listen closely to appreciate the genius of bits about figuring out what to say when he meets M.I.A. or his replication of seeing R. Kelly behave like a lunatic. Then there's Raaaaaaaandy, an oblivious, crass, d-bag comedian Ansari concocted as a kind of alter ego to lampoon rap shticks (complete with a punch line-emphasizing DJ). If Randy were real, he'd be dead by now, but Ansari makes him likable somehow. Even in a makeshift bonus feature, entitled "Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Death Ray Performance," where Ansari reprises some old material that isn't in the main set, the young stand-up is charming and sharp. With a strange kind of grace, Aziz Ansari glides through Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening like a seasoned pro. Here's hoping he doesn't get so overwhelmed by Hollywood that he neglects stand-up. (Comedy Central/Paramount)