Aziz Ansari at 2012 Just for Laughs | Comedy Review
While he didn’t appear onstage last night at The Chicago Theatre, a certain hometown rapper attended the second sold-out show of Aziz Ansari: Buried Alive, the Parks and Recreation star’s gleeful return to the TBS Just for Laughs fest. No, not that rapper, he was in the Netherlands with Jay-Z on the European leg of their Watch the Throne tour (and probably on the leg of a certain Armenian tabloid princess whose last name rhymes with “star-cashing-in”). I’m referring to Chet Haze, born Chester Hanks, son of two-time Oscar-winner Tom and wife Rita Wilson. Pictures quickly materialized on the respective Twitter feeds of Haze and Ansari’s opener, Chelsea Peretti (former writer for Parks and The Sarah Silverman Program). In a confusing moment before she began her otherwise laidback, well-paced routine, Peretti looked around and asked, “Chet? Where’s Chet?” To the 3,600 ticket-holders, it was an oversight, but Ansari later re-tweeted: “@CHETHAZE: So @ChelseaVPeretti just shouted me out during her set but I didn’t hear cuz I was talking to the dude on my left…WHY?!?” For those unfamiliar with Haze, he released a few singles as a student at Northwestern; the first, 2010’s “White and Purple,” parodies Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow.” Coming from the son of Hollywood royalty, the lyrics are terrible and thus amazing: “Got a car/It’s in the frat house/I’m with my girl trying to get up under that blouse…” Ansari’s shows will earn recaps in the Sun-Times and the Trib, but I’ll bet you a Blue Moon that this bit of useless trivia is a TOC exclusive.
Although I didn’t technically laugh, I was consistently amused; Ansari, 29, had a very successful set because he avoided the three things I was dreading: namedropping his friend, Kanye West; telling the “50 Cent Grapefruit Story” from his recent album, Dangerously Delicious; and summoning Raaaaaaaandy, the over-rated, minor character he played in 2009’s Funny People. Via voiceover, Ansari welcomed the audience as DJ Chicken Parmesan and introduced Peretti. After an intermission, Ansari emerged without warning, wearing a black suit and a white boutonnière. The theme of his show was simple and unexpected: love fascinates him, but there’s no way in hell he’s getting married or having kids. He and Peretti each talked about how annoying it is to watch their friends parade their families on Facebook – Peretti called “hubby” n-word-level offensive – and Ansari mocked the online baby videos he receives: “Look! Brian’s first steps! Well guess what? I take steps all the time.”
Ansari surveyed the crowd to see how many years couples knew each other before marrying – five, three, two. When the final group applauded, Ansari laughed maniacally. “I’m laughing because you’re getting divorced. I’ve had sweaters for two years and been like, ‘What the fuck am I doing with this sweater? I hate this sweater.’” Incidentally, while Ansari was born and raised in South Carolina, his still-married parents had an arranged marriage in India, spending only 30 minutes together before the ceremony.
“If you’re going to propose, do something amazing. Because what you’re asking her to do is INSANE…‘I want to keep hanging out with you until one of us dies.’” Then Ansari softened into a long, flowery yarn describing a proposal as the pinnacle romantic moment in woman’s life. This led to a massive set-up: he asked a man who dated his wife for five years how exactly he gave her the day of her dreams. In short, the scenic locale was Naperville. “Naperville?” Ansari demanded, unleashing a new n-word. “That just sounds like a place with a bunch of Best Buys.” Inevitably, there was a good callback: “My family is from the poor part of India…It’s like the Naperville of India.”