While many comedians toil in no-name nightclubs for years without a break, Aziz Ansari has set a quick pace: Within a couple of years of debuting as a stand-up in the mid-’00s, he and his Human Giant comedy trio had an acclaimed show on MTV, one of the network’s only worthwhile recent series. Just two years after that, he landed a plum supporting role on NBC’s Parks And Recreation, where he routinely steals scenes. Following another scene-stealing role in 2009’s Funny People—as hacky comedian RAAAAAAAANDY—Ansari has a three-film deal with Judd Apatow. In a way, Ansari’s CD/DVD seems tardy, except that he’s only been at this for six years.
Intimate Moments For A Sensual Evening collects older material (a bit about MTV’s bottom-feeding dating show, Next) and new (a 10-minute closing segment where he performs as RAAAAAAAANDY), making it an ideal introduction to Ansari. Fans of Chris Rock should easily see his influence on Ansari’s hyperactive style and high-volume delivery. During a long bit about seeing R. Kelly, Ansari bounces around the stage mimicking Kelly’s distinctive presence, complete with exaggerated dance moves.
Ansari depends heavily on current pop culture for material, so there’s a good chance his jokes about Kelly, Next, hanging out with Kanye West, and M.I.A. will sound dated soon. His stronger material, though, transcends its signifiers. During one of the DVD/CD’s funniest moments, Ansari describes pranking his cousin Harris. The joke isn’t where he screws with Harris—on a Facebook page for his cousin’s class—but how easily he can pretend to be a student and spread misinformation in this environment. And, of course, torture his cousin.
Although the concert material is the same on the DVD and CD, Ansari’s performance as RAAAAAAAANDY works much better on DVD, where viewers can see the ridiculous stage setup: dancers, a DJ, a smoke machine, and garish set dressing with his name. Where Ansari is energetic, RAAAAAAAANDY performs like he’s on speed, punctuating jokes with high kicks and operating at two volumes: quiet and screaming. It’s a hilarious bit of anti-comedy, though there’s more overlap between Ansari and his alter ego than he’d like to admit. The shtick could wear thin pretty easily, but for now, it’s entertaining to watch Ansari unhinged.
Key features: Half an hour of non-concert material filmed at UCB in L.A. that’s more laid-back and uneven.