‘Parks and Recreation’ star and comedian Aziz Ansari takes on Comedy Cellar in a new Netflix special 

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On Jan. 25, Netflix released a new comedy special, “Aziz Ansari: Nightclub Comedian,” starring Aziz Ansari, best known for his role as Tom Haverford in the hit NBC series “Parks and Recreation.” Filmed in December 2021, the short special is made for viewers who enjoy social commentary and examples of irony from throughout the pandemic. 

The comedy special begins with clips of young Ansari writing jokes on a notepad and walking down the steps of the iconic Comedy Cellar stairs. Located in New York’s Greenwich Village, Comedy Cellar has hosted several famous comedians including the late Robin Williams, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and many more. 

Ansari takes a casual approach in the 30-minute special, sitting on a stool and speaking candidly about society. He makes relevant jokes about the pandemic and the simple format of the vaccination cards, calling them “easily obtainable.” He mocks the designers by saying, “The COVID pass team was like ‘White paper, black lines. I think we’re done, Jim.’”   

Ansari’s routine also has more serious takes, making digs at Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and rapper Ice Cube for their anti-vax comments. He cuts Rodgers some slack for being a professional football player and jokes, “It’s like we’re all in high school, and we’re making fun of the quarterback for doing bad on the science test.” It’s a critical joke that gained an uproar of laughter from the audience.  

“THE COVID PASS TEAM WAS LIKE ‘WHITE PAPER, BLACK LINES. I THINK WE’RE DONE, JIM.'”

Aziz Ansari

Ansari’s set comments on serious societal issues, accompanied by light-hearted jokes. Ansari touches on selfishness in society and people’s unwillingness to help others. He creates a scenario in which there are 30 people: 20 are “doing okay,” and the other 10 say, “we don’t have clean drinking water or much else. We’re having a hard time.” Ansari says the other 20 people will say that they are too far away to help, but complain that “[they] ordered groceries on [their] phone six minutes ago and they’re still not here.”  

Several of Ansari’s jokes harp on the cruelty in society, but he reminds the audience that everyone is a part of the problem. He comments on people’s need for instant gratification and the overuse of their phones. He does light crowd work, asking audience members how they limit their screen time. Answers included setting app limits and deleting social media accounts. Ansari responds that those methods do not work, and he pulls out a flip phone, claiming he is on “Team Flip.” This shocks the audience, but he stated he became too obsessed with social media and jokes that “some lady” runs his accounts. 

At the end of the special, Ansari tells the audience that during college, he started writing jokes for stand-up, and that his friend filmed clips of Ansari writing on a small notepad and performing his first ever show at Comedy Cellar. This anecdote provides context to the black and white video clips shown at the beginning of the special. Ansari remarks on the full-circle moment he had that night of walking on MacDougal Street and going down the Comedy Cellar stairs.  

Along with acting, Ansari has performed in several comedy tours and wrote the book “Modern Romance: An Investigation.”  

The short special is recommended for anyone due to its relatable content. Not a laugh-out-loud comedy routine that can be found elsewhere, but definitely enjoyable for its relevance.   

Rating: 3.5/5 

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