The New Observers
Stand-ups Ansari and Buress exemplify a new style in comedy performance
By Michael Shashoua / Jester editor-in-chief
Aziz Ansari and Hannibal Buress’ new albums, “Dangerously Delicious” and “Animal Furnace,” respectively, released May 22 by Comedy Central, with the attendant DVD and broadcast versions, find the two comics, who both honed their craft in New York, performing with a similar style, delivering material with a similar skew in its writing and perspective.
“Harris’s College Essay” is the most riotous bit on Ansari’s album, a true classic that encapsulates this performer’s style and substance at its best. In it, he speaks about a cousin of his whom he’s tormented before in stories retold in his stand-up – but with good reason, considering the weird behavior and writing the kid does. Ansari captures how surreal and clueless his college essay was and exaggerates the gist of it to even more effect.
On a lot of the “Delicious” material, Ansari manages to poke fun of stupidity without seeming too mean, and remaining personable, which is an achievement unto itself in comedy. Buress approaches this trick with a bit more laconic style and less kinetic energy, although with equally quick shifts between topics. He’ll hit on a peak, as in “We Be Clubbing,” when he notes that women wouldn’t be as thrilled if you offered them mid-shelf vodka out on the street as they seem to be when it’s from bottle service in a club.
Both performers carry echoes of the late Mitch Hedberg in the way they will let a wry thought drop with a pause. Their acts are different shades of the same color, in a way, and represent a vanguard in the direction stand-up comedy is going, in combining observational humor with a keen eye for irony and a critical point of view.
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© 2005-2017 Michael Shashoua