Aziz Ansari was back in his element last night as he delivered jokes to a full crowd in Irvine Auditorium — after all, the small-screen Parks and Recreation star started his career as a stand-up comedian.
SPEC-TRUM, the Social Planning and Events Committee To Represent Undergraduate Minorities, hosted Ansari for their annual spring event.
Ansari’s jokes revolved around relatable themes for the college student, primarily focusing on two classic fears regarding the future: marriage and babies.
A marriage proposal, Ansari explained, is actually an irrational decision to keep hanging out with one another until someone dies.
“Marriage is really strange. Why are we doing this?” he asked rhetorically. After a pause, Ansari concluded, “tax purposes.”
“The fact that Aziz has been through college makes him really relatable,” said SPEC-TRUM Co-Director and College senior Mulu Habtemariam. “And a lot of his comedy actually sheds light on things that he experienced throughout his life, from his upbringing in the South to college at NYU.”
In fact, Ansari’s personal life did contribute significantly to his jokes, which included tales of college friends and anecdotes about his visits to India.
As Habtemariam noted, Ansari’s Indian background is also in keeping with SPEC-TRUM’s goal to represent a minority community that may be overlooked in the media and pop culture.
The audience’s response was enthusiastic throughout the performance and Ansari was often forced to pause for applause.
“His humor was a little lewd, but still really funny,” said Engineering junior Hassan Siddiqui.
Fans of Ansari were also pleased with his reference to his younger cousin Harris, who serves as recurring object of humor in his comedy.
In last night’s performance, Ansari read aloud from Harris’ college essay, which was filled with academically unacceptable phrases like “It sucked.”
Students were generally pleased with SPEC-TRUM’s choice of Aziz as the performer.
College and Engineering sophomore Mallika Marar said Ansari is one of the most consistently funny actors on TV right now.
Other students like College senior Benjamin Frank noted the importance of Ansari’s heritage. “Aziz really shows people that you don’t have to be stereotyped into certain jobs based on your heritage or background,” he said.
Joe Mande, a TV writer and actor, opened the show and impressed the crowd. Mande’s jokes centered around his Jewish background, including a hilarious rant about his jealousy of Christian holidays.
“[Mande] was a lot better than you generally give an opener credit for,” said College senior Sierra Park-Chavar.
“Our bigger goal is to get other minorities and minority groups interested in what we do, so that they want to join our committee and contribute to the events we bring to campus,” Habtemariam said about his hopes for the night’s impact. “We also hope that everyone recognizes what we’re trying to achieve by bringing in Aziz, which is to truly live up to our mission in representing all undergraduate minorities at Penn.”