From perpetual loneliness to the 'peak of human happiness'

Aziz Ansari jokes about relationships, social media and technology

By SAM FERNANDO
On April 29, 2014

  • Ute Inselmann, a Ph.D. student studying French literature, participates in a German-conversation club that she founded, sings in the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and instructs fitness and French classes – all the while developing a sense of community in each endeavor, which she believes to be integral in enjoying a rewarding life. Andy Koniuch, The Spectrum

Aziz Ansari made it clear Monday that 2014 is no place to be single. He said the world now - as opposed to years ago - is filled with awful people. And he is no exception. 

"We are all these people," he said. "We are all terrible people."

Ansari performed his new standup routine to a packed crowd in Alumni Arena Monday as part of SA's Comedy Series. The fast-talking comedian spent the evening talking about the role technology and social media play in relationships, even incorporating an interactive portion of the show.

The 31-year-old star of Parks and Recreation addressed the lack of verbal communication among young adults, saying how the ability to text is far more important than vocal communication now. He debunked the popular saying, "If she likes you, then she'll like you," by claiming, "Every single word you say matters" - even exclamation marks, emojis and the number of y's you add to "Heyy."

He furthered his point by saying our interactions, for the most part, are documented in our phones. All we have to do is "scroll up." You can see relationships live and die right in front of you, he said.

Ansari called members of the audience up to the stage to prove his point. With their phones in his hand, he analyzed the text conversations two students had with people they had met recently.

The first was a female student, who had met someone at a bus stop. She invited him to a "No-tops-or-no-bottoms" party at South Lake Village, which confused Ansari. "South Lake sounds sketchy as s**t," he said.

Danielle Natman, a senior junior health and human services, and Rachel Rabinowitz, a psychology major, threw that party last weekend at their South Lake apartment. Natman and Rabinowitz attended the show.

"What were the chances that would happen?" Rabinowitz said. "I immediately looked over to my roommates and everyone around me was making comments about it."

Cletus Emokpae was Ansari's next victim. Ansari read aloud his conversation, which started as playful flirting, him asking the girl if they wanted to watch a Disney movie and "maybe cuddle." Ansari joked that the "maybe" implied Emokpae might not want to cuddle if she came over.

The conversation went back and forth and ended with Emokpae, or "Bowtie," as Ansari called him, asking, "How was the party?" to which the girl never responded.

Ansari took matters into his own hands and asked what Emokpae's favorite Disney movie was. When Emokpae responded with Hercules, Ansari decided to send the girl a text.

It read, "I got this Hercules DVD and I could use someone to cuddle with."

Emokpae felt Ansari was a "chill" guy and thought the text message was funny. Overall, Emokpae was impressed with the content of the Ansari's show.

"There is no purpose in entertaining someone if you aren't going to educate them about something," Emokpae said. "He was talking about real stuff that is important and things we all go through. I actually took some things from the show."

Samar Fawaz, a master's student in chemical engineering, thought the interactive portion of the evening was original. She has seen all of Ansari's stand-up routines on Netflix and was jealous of the students who met him.

Ansari's insight into relationships and the single life had the audience laughing consistently throughout the evening.

Nino Panepinto, a junior communication major, thinks it's more than Ansari's material that caused the laughter.

"His voice and the way he talks is what really makes him funny," Panepinto said. "I am not familiar with his stand-up, but I watch his TV show. [His routine] really stacked up well to that."

Ansari called young people of today the "flakiest" generation ever. No one can commit to anything anymore because people are afraid of missing something better, he said.

He thinks technology has changed our most basic interactions, noting that due to text messaging, people are quick to cancel plans for trivial reasons at the last minute. Years ago when landlines were the prime source of communication, people couldn't do that. If you made plans, and the other person didn't show up, he joked that you would have to presume they were dead.

He continued the bit, saying the phenomenon can really mess with single people. Because we are constantly connected, the only way to avoid awkward interactions, like ones with the opposite sex you aren't interested in, is to pretend to be indefinitely busy.

"Why risk someone's feelings when you can create an alternate reality where scheduling is the problem?" he asked.

Ansari then took the time to analyze the idea of marriage. He said he has close friends who were recently divorced; he had no idea anything was wrong in their relationship. He looked to the audience to prove his point. He looked around the room and said, on the surface, everyone seems happy. They came to a comedy show, and they are all laughing. But because of the large sample size, some people must be miserable.

"Someone here has to be going through some dark s**t right now," he said. "Someone here has a body they don't know what to do with."

Ansari highlighted how difficult it is to find and maintain a relationship - a notion that echoed his opening act. Though Ansari introduced his openeras the creator and star of That's So Raven who also acted in The Cosby Show, it was not Raven-Symoné, but Moshe Kasher.

Natman felt Kasher set the tone for the evening and enjoyed his timely material. She thought his jokes about the abortion display, which was outside the Student Union this week, were especially creative.

Ansari feels that people aren't meant for monogamy. And technology doesn't make staying faithful any easier because of the "24-hour singles bar in our pocket."

He said it is much more difficult to find the right relationship today because there are many more options than there were years ago. And more options actually make it more difficult to find someone and be satisfied, he said.

He claimed women cheat for deep reasons, when the relationship is not working, whereas men cheat when they see "the girl in the pink shorts," for example.

To elaborate, Ansari equipped a simple analogy. He compared meaningless relationships to Skittles. If the candy is in a different room, he said, men won't want Skittles, but if they are right in front of their face, they are going to want Skittles.

Instead, women want a nutritious salad, or a healthy relationship in Ansari's analogy. But a man, after days, weeks, months of nutritious salads, is eventually going to want Skittles. The crowd roared with laughter.

"I think a lot of college kids start to see their friends pairing off into serious relationships, especially as the years go by," Natman said. "So Aziz's material on relationships was definitely applicable to college kids and super relatable. I'm sure we've all been in situations similar to the ones he described."

In an ironic twist, Ansari revealed he is currently in a relationship toward the end of the show. He was afraid of becoming that "boring guy."

Ansari let the audience in on a little secret. He said to "hold someone you love and watch an entire season of a critically-acclaimed drama" is "the peak of human happiness."

 

email: arts@ubspectrum.com


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