Comedian Aziz Ansari has, seemingly overnight, gone from being another Indian-American hopeful comic (in the same bracket as blog-friend Hari Kondabolu), to the next Desi TV star (potentially the same bracket as Kal Penn and Aasif Mandvi).
There is a great profile of him, which focuses on his unique style of comedy, in the Wall Street Journal today (of all places). Aziz has a starring role alongside Amy Poehler in the upcoming NBC show, Parks and Recreation. He’s also in the current “bromance” comedy, I Love You, Man, an upcoming Seth Rogen starrer called Observe and Report (another movie about a mall cop? really?), as well as in a Judd Apatow film called Funny People coming later this summer (where Aziz will apparently play a comic disposed to extreme profanity). From nearly unknown to three big comedies and a Prime Time TV show with one of Saturday Night Live’s biggest stars… Wow.
As a side note, I have also been following Aziz’s insane Twitter feed, for the past couple of weeks. At first I thought the man is simply out of his mind (he is currently on a “campaign” to save rapper Ludacris from drinking too much Mangosteen juice), but at some point I started to think that the whole thing is an elaborate in-joke. The closing paragraphs of the WSJ profile give a little perspective on what Aziz is up to:
Mr. Ansari moved to Los Angeles a year ago, and his comedy is often fueled by references to pop culture and celebrities. He has launched a Twitter feed, where he sometimes alludes to imaginary plans with famous people he doesn’t know. According to the feed, in recent days he has eaten brunch with the R&B band Boyz II Men, had sushi with “Blood Diamond” actor Djimon Hounsou and beaten World Wrestling Entertainment star John Cena in a push-up competition. None of this is true. He has made a few real celebrity friends. Last year, he got permission from rapper Kanye West to use Mr. West’s “Glow in the Dark Tour” as the tongue-in-cheek name for his own, far smaller stand-up tour. Mr. West came to one of the comedian’s shows, and the two struck up a friendship.(link)
I have my doubts about whether Twitter is just another social networking fad or something bigger, but at least from the Twitterers I follow (a rather limited number), Aziz definitely takes the art of the funny & surreal 140 character message to a whole other level.