Imagine you’re a stand-up comic. Now imagine the worst possible audience you could ever have. Now double that, and maybe you’ll get an approximation of what Aziz Ansari was dealing with as the opening act for Drake at last night’s private concert at Bing Bar. Ansari was there when the party started at 10 p.m., but he refused to take the stage until Drake had entered the building, which wasn’t until around 12:45 a.m. (Drake explained his tardiness before playing: “I almost lost my life six times today. My flight got delayed six hours. I drove on some of the curviest roads I’ve ever been on in my life. I need a shot.”) Ansari probably knew that the already impatient crowd was not quite in the mood for ten minutes of stand-up from that guy on Parks and Recreation, but that didn’t stop him from trying to do his best. “First off,” he began. “Sorry we’re starting so late. You’re not going to believe this, but the rapper was late. It’s unbelievable. The rapper was late. I expected to find him in the green room at 11:15 eating carrots and hummus. That was not the case. He just got here. So we’re starting late. But thank you all for waiting. This is going to be a fun show.”
Said fun show went rapidly downhill from there. The crowd had been talking while Ansari started and never stopped, and then, as his routine progressed, they grew louder and began booing. Much of the reaction was owing to sheer anticipation for Drake, though Ansari also made the mistake of not attempting to connect with the very specific, distracted crowd by making any jokes about Sundance or movies or rap or anything that might have resonated with them; instead he began discussing how upset he was that all his friends were having babies. “People call me up. They’ll say things like, ‘Aziz! You’re never gonna believe it! I just had a baby!’ And I always have the same reaction. I’m always like, ‘Hahahahaha. That sucks! I’m so sorry that happened. Were you guys not using condoms or birth control? You are taking a huge risk. Now you’ve got to take care of that thing forever. I’ll talk to you later. I can go literally anywhere I want because I don’t have a baby.’” No one seemed to be listening.
As Ansari spoke, Drake’s roadies started setting up behind him. “This is actually part of my act,” he said. “I actually like having two dudes setting up turntable equipment. It’s a new thing I’m trying.” Ansari went back to talking about kids. “Does anyone here have a kid? Clap if you have a kid.” No one clapped. No one seemed to have noticed he’d asked them to clap. Then a loud screeching pop blew out of the speakers. “Oh wow,” said Ansari, feedback still ringing. “This is the best venue for stand-up comedy ever. I’m so glad I’m doing this.”
And yet, despite the technical snafus and audience ill will, he persisted, but it was impossible to hear him over the restless crowd. “Oh my god, so many people are talking. This is the worst,” Ansari remarked, mostly to himself. “Thank god they paid me a lot of fucking money or otherwise it would be like, ‘Why did I fucking come here?’”
Suddenly, an Ansari supporter jumped onstage and grabbed the mike. It was Cuba Gooding Jr. “Hey, hey, yo! Cuba Gooding!” said Cuba Gooding Jr. “Shut the fuck up! Shut the fuck up! We got Aziz here, motherfucker. He’s trying to make us laugh with his cock out, motherfucker. Shut up and let him do his shit.”
Ansari smiled, and replied, calmly. “I really don’t care that much, Cuba Gooding Jr., but thank you very much.”
Gooding: “Black people, we gotta stick together, Aziz.”
Ansari: “That’s right, Cuba Gooding Jr. Cedric the Entertainer will be up here making different points as well.”
Gooding: “NOW the motherfucker’s funny!”
“No, Cuba Gooding Jr., I am very funny,” said Ansari. “But I’m not as hilarious as Boat Trip. If they were showing that, everybody would be laughing.” And we all did, finally.
With that, Cuba Gooding Jr. left the stage and Ansari introduced Drake. Ansari didn’t spike the mike on his way out, but he probably should have.
This post has been edited since its original publication.