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Aziz Ansari Punched A Wall

In this showcase, 22-year-old standup prodigy Aziz Ansari has a great command of his material, relating his personal stories with a unique comic perspective. As a prodigy, though, Ansari is naturally enamored of his influences in his delivery, most obviously Chris Rock and Mitch Hedberg, which makes for an unusual blend of two wildly different and nearly opposite styles.

Ansari courageously makes his hapless personal life the fodder for most of this 30-minute show (paired on this night with sketch comedy group Wicked Wicked Hammerkatz). This is what really gets him laughs more so than the appeal of any style of delivery. When Ansari taps into the dating (or lack of dating) disappointments universal to probably 80 or 90 percent of young men, everyone can relate. We’ve all been there when it comes to saying something as lame as “I, like, like you” to an object of a crush.

The focus of Ansari’s show as highlighted in the title is an explanation of what romantic frustrations led him to punch a wall at 4:30 a.m. one pathetic winter night in February, breaking his hand and requiring him to wear a bulky foam cast for six full days. With charm and wit, Ansari is oddly gleeful as he tells his tales of crushes on various girls who already have boyfriends, to which we can all relate; you can tell he enjoys these stories and that enthusiasm is infectious with his audience.

Ansari also shows skill at working other media into this performance, bringing in video from a previous show where he brought one of these crushes on stage, not for some kind of mean-spirited humiliation, but merely to illustrate a story; as well as a tape of a phone call to his mom explaining (or obscuring) how he broke his hand -- this gets Ansari the biggest laugh in his show.

In “Aziz Ansari Punched A Wall,” Ansari shows he has the tools, perspective, stories and material to master stand-up comedy with an act that is not just a succession of jokes or mere variations on observations that have been bounced around in stand-up for years. His challenge will be to hone and craft all of these strengths into a distinct voice of his own, deploying his material with his own style, not borrowed influences. Still, now is a great time to catch him -- to see a talent certainly destined for great things in his formative years.

“Aziz Ansari Punched a Wall” will be performed 7 p.m. Saturdays August 6, 13 and 20 at the UCB Theatre.




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