Netflix’s latest foray into stand-up comedy specials isn’t perfect, but it’s an encouraging sign of the streaming service’s commitment to the genre.
Aziz Ansari‘s Buried Alive is the comedian’s third stand-up special – his Intimate Moments for a Special Evening and Dangerously Delicious are also available for streaming on Netflix Canada – and by far his best. The 70-minute set is his most organized and mature, but most importantly, it’s his funniest. Recorded on April 13 at Philadelphia’s Merriam Theatre, Buried Alive sees a newly-30 Ansari discussing marriage, parenthood, sexting and pop culture. He’s put the 50 Cent and Kanye West stories behind him, but takes on shows 16 and Pregnant and My Super Sweet 16 and, in a highlight of the special, goes off on the Super Sweet 16 girls for not realizing they could easily be on Pregnant themselves. He also talks about bullies and child molesters, and theorizes that he was never molested as a child because his extreme cuteness was intimidating to potential pedophiles.
Ansari’s signature enthusiasm and liveliness make even the weaker bits at least fun to watch. He’s also quick on his feet: he doesn’t miss a beat when a woman in the front row, whom he asked how her husband of five years proposed, tells him that she didn’t say yes right away because she saw the waiter bringing breadsticks over to their table when her now-hubby popped the question. Ansari is almost child-like in his facial expressions, but where they were distracting and over-the-top in his previous specials, they seem more appropriate and believable in Buried Alive. Maybe he’s learned to control that, but it makes for a comedian you can take more seriously.
Buried Alive won’t go down as a stand-up classic, but as Netflix’s first stand-up special, it’s made history.
In the weeks and months leading up to the Nov. 1 release of Buried Alive, there have been several other stand-up specials that began to be offered on Netflix Canada, including ones by Louis C.K. and Reggie Watts, as well as Netflix originals by Marc Maron, Brian Posehn and Russell Peters.
Ansari announced on his Tumblr that the special will also be available for download for $5 in 2014, a strategy popularized by Louis C.K. and one Ansari used to sell his Dangerously Delicious special.
Here are some of my favourite lines from Aziz Ansari’s Netflix special Buried Alive, available now.
People who go to clubs know it’s bad, right? No one goes to clubs like: ‘Alright! It smells like vomit, I can’t hear anything and the worst people in the world are here! Let’s do this!’
He’s no bigot, but…:
I don’t dislike anyone based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, anything of that nature. But if you’re a white dude in a bar with a backwards baseball hat and a button-down shirt, there’s a pretty good chance I fucking hate you.
He does allow himself one racial stereotype:
On why arranged marriages aren’t for him:
I would get into an arranged marriage and three weeks in be like: ‘What?! You don’t watch Game of Thrones? I knew I shouldn’t have signed up for this shit. We should have discussed DVR preferences.’
Ansari comparing spouses to sweaters:
I have had sweaters for two years and been like: ‘What the fuck was I doing with this sweater? So stupid looking! I can’t believe I thought of keeping this sweater for the rest of my life.’
On the weirdness of marriage itself:
‘Hey, so we’ve been hanging out all the time. I wanna keep doing that ’til you’re dead. Put this ring on your fingers so people know we have an arrangement.’ ‘Who’s that guy? (girl voice)’ ‘A priest. I need you to swear to God that you won’t back out.’
Parenthood isn’t for everyone:
I got a friend, he got married recently. He’s kind of a goofball. I asked him: ‘Hey, you’re not gonna have kids, are you?’ He’s like: ‘Maybe next year?’ Dude, you still have a chain wallet. You can’t have a chain wallet and a kid at the same time. If your wallet is causing you so much trouble you have to chain it to your person, you’re not ready to bring life into the world.