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Graduation Day

Young comedy star Aziz Ansari unveils his latest thoughts as he reaches the verge of  big things.

Aziz Ansari, the stand-up and alternative sketch comedy performer who appears to be about break big, with an Office spinoff and Judd Apatow movie on his horizon, has fine tuned his stand-up material (as seen at Comix on January 9), showing great aptitude at shifting modes and characters, as well as moods, even more so than his show of three years ago, “Aziz Ansari Punched A Wall,” (see 2005 review).

Ansari no longer needs video segments, bringing to life the bad hip-hop comic character of Randy from the coming Apatow movie, “Funny People,” as well as the experiences of going to an R. Kelly concert and messing with his ninth grade cousin’s study group online on Facebook -- as he read excerpts of those exchanges off his Blackberry on stage.

While Ansari may seem more polished now as a performer, he still carries with him a few last vestiges of his influences in his delivery and timing, as well as a little of the more alternative sensibility of recent alternative forebears like David Cross, Paul Tompkins and Janeane Garofalo (as seen together in the other show reviewed here). But aside from the originality of his material, even the character piece he indulged on stage, Ansari also does a lot more with movement now to punctuate the jokes and material.

The way Ansari performs now is actually very well suited to the two-drink minimum comedy club setting, which one might not expect considering that he is also very much a sketch comedy performer, as in the MTV show “Human Giant” and guest spots on “Flight of the Conchords” and other shows. And his set is now closer to the one-hour mark, along with that polish.

With this latest performance, part of what Ansari is calling his “Glow In The Dark” stand-up tour, Ansari definitely is developing and growing as a comedic performer and artist -- adding physical movement to his stand-up, relying more on his own speaking style than aping influences, and still bringing personal stories and material into the mix. Even as he’s earning bigger shoes, Ansari’s still growing into them.




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