Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Tuesday, January 25. All times are Eastern.
Aziz Ansari: Nightclub Comedian (Netflix, 3:01 a.m.): Back in December 2021, Aziz Ansari dropped by legendary New York stand-up crucible The Comedy Cellar to record this stripped-down new comedy special. “I mean, I like doing nice theaters and everything, but, sometimes, you gotta come back and compete with chicken wings,” Ansari explains to the appreciative and surprised crowd.
After selling out increasingly huge venues for years now, this special sees Ansari performing for the 150 or so patrons attending one of The Comedy Cellar’s regular stand-up showcases. And while that’s pretty much all we know about the comedian’s fourth special (since no screeners were made available to critics), the Netflix PR people promise Ansari will tackle topics like “COVID, the White House, and the virtues of flip phones,” which indicates that this is, indeed, a stand-up special.
For fans of the former Parks And Recreation and Master Of None star, Nightclub Comedian’s intimate setting recalls the more introspective vibe of Ansari’s previous 2019 special, Right Now, which came out on Netflix in the wake of the 2018 sexual misconduct allegation that tarnished his image and threatened to derail his burgeoning career. (The third season of the Ansari-created Master Of None shifted almost completely away from Ansari’s protagonist to focus on Lena Waithe’s character, Denise, for example.) In her review of that special, Danette Chavez summed up the comic’s calculated introspection concerning his actions, noting:
Ansari’s demeanor here isn’t regretful or chastened, exactly, but it is at odds with his usual swagger, the better to demonstrate how much contemplation he’s ostensibly done in the last year and a half. It’s a reminder that the special’s thoughtful construction isn’t just a result of Ansari taking a step back to reflect on his dating behavior; it’s the culmination of a stand-up act that had been honed during dozens of preceding shows.
Now it’s up to Saloni Gajjar to evaluate what a two-years-later, presumably chastened (if not precisely apologetic) Aziz Ansari stand-up special looks like. Her piece on Aziz Ansari: Nightclub Comedian will publish at some point on Tuesday, after she’s had a chance to actually watch the thing.
This Is Us (NBC, 9 p.m.)
Naomi (CW, 9 p.m.): Look, we’re all superhero-ed out at this point, but if our cultural surrender to the men and women in tights has done anything, it’s allowed comics creators to play around with the status quo in interesting ways. Enter Naomi McDuffie, a seemingly ordinary Black teen in a world where DC Comics heroes are merely fictional—or are they? Played by the excellent Kaci Walfall, Naomi is a Superman superfan whose encounter with what sure seems like a real, “up in the sky” Man Of Steel appears to trigger her own, very non-fictional superpowers. This week, Naomi (named for the groundbreaking and still heartbreakingly late comics creator Dwayne McDuffie) finds out what all teen superheroes from Buffy to Peter Parker learn the hard way—college entrance exams don’t give a damn about supervillains.