Make us your home page
Instagram

Review: Aziz Ansari nails generational woes at the Mahaffey Theater

Comedian Aziz Ansari played two shows Sunday in St. Petersburg.

Comedian Aziz Ansari played two shows Sunday in St. Petersburg.

ST. PETERSBURG — Halfway through Aziz Ansari's Modern Romance Tour stop, which was all about the undignified way people correspond today, he beckoned the crowd.

The audience at the Mahaffey Theater came forth and handed their phones to Ansari, an astute spirit animal of a generation that has forgotten how to speak.

"Relationships live and die over the course of a few messages," he said. He started looking through their phones.

At 31, Ansari is one of the most popular comedians in the business, thanks in part to his role on NBC's Parks and Recreation. Sunday, he wove at times chilling wisdom into a wickedly funny set (twice, because the first show sold out so fast). He wore a red velvet blazer, washed in romantic lights.

"If you've ever held someone you love and watched hours of critically acclaimed dramas, you've experienced the peak of human happiness," said Ansari, who claims to be in love himself.

Ansari has a gift for pulling a big idea out of the mundane, and he gets the point across without sounding like a miser who wants you off his lawn. How could he? Ansari keeps a Tumblr blog and he tweets and Instagrams. On Sunday afternoon, he posted a shot of himself at Bananas Music in St. Petersburg.

So it's with great authority he can explain how, when someone doesn't text back, we decide they're out of the country. In the hospital. Or maybe — maybe! — the text didn't go through.

"The text always goes through," he said.

And how the same person who blew you off then has the nerve to document every stupid thing: "Eating ice cream and watching Dexter. #reallyneedaman."

"You know I follow you!" he said. "You know I'm reading this! What kind of evil is inside you?"

People are so connected, he said, they're always holding out for better. And they don't commit to much. Ansari conceived of a hypothetical guy, sitting alone in his house, 40 years ago, eating beans from a can, and the land line rings. It's Phil, and he wants to meet up at 8.

"You would be there at 8 o'clock, and Phil would be there at 8 o'clock and if Phil wasn't there by 8:15, you thought Phil was dead. ..."

Now we're part of the "rudest, flakiest generation ever," he said, and the crowd of fans in their 20s and 30s agreed that this generation is the worst. But Ansari called them out.

"We are those people."

Back to those people standing at the stage, handing Ansari their phones.

A young woman met a guy at a bar, she told him, and he texted the next day. They went on a date, and he wrote the next night. Then she left him hanging, which in Ansari's estimation is the result of a widespread and crippling American fear of honesty.

Ansari took the phone and typed, I just woke up, boo-boo, bring me some donuts.

"You can write and say Aziz sent that," he told her. "He'll believe you."

Then, to make sure they were communicating clearly, he pressed his cheek to hers and took a selfie.

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at shayes@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8716.

Review: Aziz Ansari nails generational woes at the Mahaffey Theater 03/16/14 [Last modified: Sunday, March 16, 2014 11:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Battle of the Sexes' is a fine time capsule comedy, and not really about the tennis

    Movies

    In 1973, tennis champion Billie Jean King joined a two-ring circus with hustler Bobby Riggs, billed as a Battle of the Sexes amid the women's liberation movement. Fifty million Americans watched the pop spectacle on TV.

    Emma Stone and Steve Carell in the film "Battle of the Sexes." [Fox Searchlight Pictures.]
  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 26

    Events

    University Lecture Series: Jackie Cruz: In part of USF's Hispanic Heritage Month activities, actress Jackie Cruz (Orange is the New Black) presents "Cruzing Through Adversity" in which she offers lessons on resilience, determination and turning life's challenges into opportunities and a better outlook. 8 …

    Jackie Cruz in a scene from Netflix's "Orange is the New Black" Season 2. Photo credit: Jessica Miglio for Netflix.
  3. Restaurant review: Mortar & Pestle in Seminole Heights should focus on mom-and-pop pharmacy vibe

    Food & Dining

    By Laura Reiley

    Times Food Critic

    TAMPA

    Sometimes, the more time you have with a project, the more complicated it gets. I started hearing about Mortar & Pestle in Seminole Heights about 18 months ago. It was the vision of Ujwal Patel, a pharmacist;

    Mortar & Pestle opened in Seminole Heights in Tampa in August. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  4. Snap Judgment's Glynn Washington on growing up in a 'cult' and how to tell a good story

    Events

    Glynn Washington spent much of his last visit to Tampa preparing his soul for the impending apocalypse. He was assured it was coming any day.

    Glynn Washington, the creator and host of NPR's "Snap Judgment," will bring his live show to the Tampa Theatre on Sept. 29. 
Photo courtesy Snap Judgment
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Sept. 25-Oct. 1

    Events

    MegaCon Tampa: The multi-genre convention brings a lineup of celebrity guests and comic book creators to the Tampa Convention Center Friday-Sunday, including icon Stan Lee, William Shatner, above, Kevin Smith and Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLaughlin from Stranger Things. Shop hundreds of vendors selling …

    Courtesy Adultswim