Aziz Ansari On the Dating Game
- Photographed by: A. Arthur Fisher
As the smoke settles in Isla Vista, videos are going viral. While news of the Deltopia riot is snaking through the city, us classy folk are heading into the Arlington Theatre for a safe and seated Sunday night of comedy with Aziz Ansari - comedian, actor, writer, and social analyst extraordinaire.
We take our seats to the polite requests of Aziz through the speakers; the typical sit down, shut up, and turn your cell phones off routine. We oblige for fear of being chastised in front of a sold out crowd.
The opening act for the evening is introduced as a writer for the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation, the host of Family Feud, and the star of The Steve Harvey Show. Led to believe that the Steve Harvey is opening for Aziz, a boyish man with glasses walks out to the theme song from the 90's Disney show That's So Raven.
Joe Mande, although not Steve Harvey, is actually a writer for Parks and Rec and made it big via his Twitter account. Dubbed an 'internet rascal,' Mande has over a million followers reading his tweetage. With a best-selling book Look at This F*cking Hipster, a recently released stand-up album Bitchface, and a tour opening for Aziz, it's no wonder Mande is able to afford a $20 app for his iPad that he can't quit fucking with. Throughout his act a deep throaty voice (akin to that of a serial killer phone call) booms out, "Santa Barbara. You don't even know," amongst other sound effects and previously recorded messages.
Mande tells us about his earlier days doing stand-up, when he was performing on top of cafeteria tables to a standard audience of seven fat girls in pajama pants. Now standing in the sold out Arlington Theatre, he asks, "do people live in these little buildings?" gesturing to the facades on either side of us. "I'm just waiting for someone to come out, 'Shut the f*ck up! I'm watching Game of Thrones in here!'"
Joe seamlessly takes us through his recent move to Los Angeles, criticizing the food choices and the overwhelming presence of medicinal marijuana. Café Gratitude, a hippie style eatery where the menu and staff focus on fluffing the aura of their patrons, will soon be neighbored by Café Attitude, where you get an emotional beat-down with your meal.
Moving on to the restaurant with the worst possible name ever, Souplantation, kicks Mande into overdrive in an attempt to come up with even worse names for a restaurant. Gaschamburger, Chickinternment Camp, and In & Auschwitz are just a few options. "But seriously, Souplantation; it's not even a pun. It's just the word soup combined with a word that makes absolutely everyone uncomfortable."
Dumping us into an inside look at his relationship with his fiancé, we hear about the one dick pic he almost sent and how he likes to compare his relationship to the 90's dating show Next, "on the Music Television."
After forty-five minutes of giggles with the classically casual Joe Mande, the stage is washed in red and the mood music kicks on.
Standing 5'6" with a suede blazer and suit pants, Parks and Rec star Aziz Ansari takes the stage for the first time in Santa Barbara, opening with his standard, "take your photos now" request. After approximately 3½ minutes of shrapnel flashes Aziz urges us to turn our phones off, "because seriously, it's a shitty way to live your life, paying to go to a show and then texting the whole time. Go outside, text your friends, and then step into the street and kill yourself."
With the performance title Modern Romance, Aziz did not disappoint in his comedic analysis of what being single in today's world of dating is like. After impersonating several textual scenarios amongst single people, Aziz gives insight into our folly as a generation, "That's what being single is now; it's like being a secretary for the world's shoddiest company, scheduling the dumbest shit with the flakiest people ever!"
We are the least lonely generation, always searching for the best. We won't make plans with these friends because what if one of our "top tier friends" invites us to something better? Back in the day the only excuse for bailing was dying. Nowadays the excuses are as idiotic as a bout of fatigue from putting the groceries away. Aziz effortlessly hits every nail on the head as he constructs an hour-long masterpiece of social analyses.
"Being single at 7 is the same as single at 27." It's all a big, dumb, weird game and the doom and gloom of relationships is never ending. We live in a time where the options are endless. More options means we're less satisfied. "There's just too much chocolate and it's paralyzing us. It's statistically impossible to find happiness and we should all just jerk off and go to bed."
Later in the show Aziz asks the audience to clap if they've recently met someone. He beckons those who have clapped to scroll to the first message in the text thread and come up to the stage. Aziz grabs a phone from a boy in his early 20's. The first text is sent at 3:06am. Aziz proclaims, "we don't know anything about you or them and we already know what you're up to!" The text reads "Hey, hope you made it home alright." She replies the next morning: "Ryan?" He answers: "Nick..." The audience loses it as Aziz grabs another phone from a young lady. The first text is from a guy, "Hey, hope you found your phone charger." Aziz makes the same comment, "We don't know anything about you or them and we already know what's going on!" Her reply: "I never found my phone charger. Ha." Aziz looks at her, "You liar!! How does your phone have battery now?!"
After some more analysis of single people and the dating game, Aziz gives us a bit of insight into the relationship he's in now, a serious one, that's been going on for 8 or 9 months now. He reads some sappy texts between the two of them. From him: "I just stepped in some sludge and I immediately thought of how you make me feel the exact opposite of that moment," and from her: "you are the sweetest most wonderful man I've ever met and when I'm with you, I am home. You are home to me." He was reading that message from her while he was taking a shit. "It was like waste was leaving my body and all this love was coming in."
A standing ovation brings Aziz back out for an encore performance of some of his older bits including: buying sheets at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, black dudes being blown away by magic tricks, ASL and jizz everywhere, and Aziz's cousin Harris' obsessions with Cinnabun and hour long TV dramas.
Sunday night's show did not disappoint. Although, as an audience, we were accused of being the shittiest people ever on more than one occasion throughout the evening, I left feeling less like driving my family into a lake and more like holding someone I love while watching 3 to 10 episodes of a critically acclaimed drama.