In his new Netflix special Buried Alive, Aziz Ansari tackles relationships on all the major fronts: marriage, having babies, meeting people, online dating, and dick pics.
As a single 30 year-old man who spent his late 20s becoming famous, Ansari examines most of the subjects from the outside looking in. He can’t online date or send his own dong shots due to his notoriety (although other people’s penises are fair game, as demonstrated in one joke), and traditional business like getting engaged and producing offspring are less than appealing when you have the option of hanging out with Kanye West. To learn about The Way We Date Now, Ansari has turned to his audiences – a captive group full of personal experiences that he can exploit everytime he performs, and the result is the best part of his act.
Far and away the funniest parts of Buried Alive occur when Ansari interacts with the crowd, picking out regular people and asking them about their proposal stories and the sexts they’ve received. That’s not to say that the other 60 or so minutes aren’t often insightful and hilarious. Hearing a rich and famous young dude talk about about how he’s “fucking white girls” and would never have let himself be molested can be sort of a bummer, while watching the same dude take a young guy to task for proposing during lunch is an unadulterated joy.
Dating, sex, and love are all crazy all the time for everyone, and by getting out of his own necessarily limited perspective and incorporating other people’s real nonsense into his own act, Buried Alive feels more relevant and important that Ansari’s past specials. Asking one young woman about how she felt upon receiving a NSFW text, he gets the reply, “Which time?” Yup. Aziz is the iPhone version of Masters and Johnson, using comedy fans as his subjects instead of prostitutes and ‘60s housewives. With these datasets, his crowd-sourced statistic that “88.9% of all dick photos have no message, just the photo” is probably a legitimate figure.
Even the information that he’s gathered from his friends (probably not Kanye) is enlightening. What keywords does a buddy of the comedian’s use to search for the girl of his dreams online? “Jewish and my zip code.” He responds, “I found a Wendy’s that way,” highlighting the absurdity of internet dating, because at least at Wendy’s you know you can get a Frosty. From his female friends, he’s learned that most women are just looking for a guy who is “nice – and clean.” Women’s low-but-still-unattainable standards is a trope that might seem tired, but when you picture the droves of women resignedly listing these sad credentials to Aziz, you can’t help but laugh. Aziz is ridiculous, but so are we, and Buried Alive is a celebration of all of that.