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Aziz Ansari in the Village Voice

Mar 19, 2015

Funnier Than Your Funny-Friend
Drinks with stand-up comedian Aziz Ansari

Aziz Ansari, a 22-year old comedian with a high-pitched voice and a fondness for hooded sweatshirts, performs every Monday night at the Upright Citizens Brigade in Chelsea. Some of his best routines involve pretending to be a bigger, angrier version of himself: he woos imaginary girls by snapping dogs' necks, wielding bricks, and acting, as he puts it, 'quite ruthless.' I recently met him for drinks at 288 Bar, and we talked about how hard it is to find a good joke comprised of perfect 'little bits of stupidity and ridiculousness.'

What's an instance where you actively sought out some stupidity?

I was at Croxley Ales a couple months ago with my friends, and we noticed Scarlet Johansson sitting there. So I took out a napkin and wrote, 'I think you're really cute. You should definitely come to my show tonight.' And I put something about the Rolling Stone thing so she'd know I was legit. I dropped the flier right in front of her and then skidaddled off. She never came, of course. But I made a joke about it that night.

In one of my favorite routines, you talk about Googling yourself-the first thing that pops up online is a sentence about how you look like a nerd and do nothing to stop this. Do you feel obligated to play up the nerdy image?

I actually don't think I act that nerdy.

I liked in your act when you used the word 'nerd-dom.'

But that was when I was talking about my little brother.

So you were annoyed by the sentence?

I just thought it was funny-it seemed so random. I'm not the hippest guy in the world or anything. I definitely don't like going to hip bars . . . It's not cool to think that you're cool or want to be cool-that's the whole conundrum.

Is it easier to perform at a bar with a drink minimum? Are people more willing to laugh?

No, I don't like the idea of people having to pay so much. It shouldn't be $50 to see a show. It should be five bucks, or free, like at Upright Citizens Brigade, Pianos, and Rififi, and other-although I hate the word-'alternative' rooms-

What's wrong with the word?

Because it doesn't mean anything. I perform in both types of places. But I've never seen anyone have to be thrown out of an alternative room because they're being too drunk or rowdy or trying to be funny, but that happens at comedy clubs almost every night.

How do you usually come up with your routines?

I can't sit down and force myself to write. I wait until something happens. Like the other day I was at a grocery store-I probably won't be able to get a joke out of this-but I bought five things: some Hi-C, oatmeal, iced tea, cookie dough and toasted strudels, and I thought it was interesting because 40 percent of the things I bought had the Pillsbury doughboy on it. And I was like, 'that's so weird.'

When you're meeting strangers, do you feel like you shouldn't be funny-it'd be showing off?

Yeah, I never tell jokes. I think it comes off weird. Especially if you're a comedian and it's like 'oh fucking comedian guy.'

But doesn't everyone try to be at least a little funny?

Oh no, I'm always trying. But I didn't come here thinking, 'OK, I should really impress this girl so she'll think, 'Wow, I had a drink with a comedian.' If I wasn't doing comedy I'd just be my friend's 'funny friend,' nothing more. Or, I don't know, maybe a little bit funnier than that.
NY General

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Matt Walsh in new Comedy Central show

Mar 19, 2015

Comedy series 'Lives' gets second life

NBC's loss is Comedy Central's gain: The cable channel has picked up a series from DreamWorks Television that the broadcaster passed on last season.

Comedy Central has ordered 10 episodes of American Lives, which blends scripted and unscripted material, from executive producer Dan Mazer, creator of HBO's Da Ali G Show. The series will premiere in the summer.

In keeping with the Ali G format, the cast of Lives will mine laughs by having fictional characters interact with real people under the guise of being local news reporters. But unlike Ali G, Lives moves beyond skits to take its characters into a full-blown narrative that follows their chaotic lives even when they're not messing with random strangers.

"I think I set out to do something deliberately different than Ali G,' Mazer said. "This show will really distinguish itself from the typical network sitcom."

Comedy Central will keep the cast originally attached to the project, including Zach Galifianakis (Tru Calling), A.D. Miles (Stella), Andrea Savage (Significant Others) and Matt Walsh (Upright Citizens Brigade). All actors with background in improv, they play the staff of a fictional Spokane, Washington-based newscast.

Lives was developed at NBC for the 2004-05 season, but the network ultimately passed on it. When Lauren Corrao, Executive VP Original Programming and Development at Comedy Central, heard the project was available, she felt it had the right fit for the cable channel.

"Most projects that are developed for broadcast networks are not appropriate for Comedy Central in the sense (that) they're much too traditional and not for our audience," Corrao said. "But once in a while, you find something that works."

This isn't the first time Corrao has turned a busted broadcast pilot into Comedy Central gold: Primetime series Reno 911! sat on the shelf at Fox Broadcasting Co. for two years before the cable channel reactivated it.
LA General

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The 2nd Annual "IT SUCKED" Awards in the NY Times

Mar 18, 2015

THE NEW YORK TIMES
THEATER

Ah, Christmas. A time for considering the year gone by: the naughty and the nice, the good and the bad, the funny and the less so. The giggly events will be of particular interest at a faux awards show on Wednesday night at the UPRIGHT CITIZENS BRIGADE THEATER, the city's de facto town hall for alternative comedy. The second annual show, whose title is too racy for a family newspaper, is a summation of all things terrible about 2005, from pop culture to science to politics, with much comic riffing. Performed by a dozen or so of the brigade's regulars, the show is short (75 minutes) and sweet ($5). 8 p.m., 307 West 26th Street, Chelsea, (212) 366-9176. 

NY Shows

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