Does everyone like Aziz Ansari as much as I do?
What I like about him is that he’s a modern comic. Of course Louis C.K. and Seinfeld and Chris Rock are considered comedy gods but they are also from a generation that became famous before the internet existed. Sometimes the “you crazy kids get off my lawn” sensibility of the sacred cows gets a little tired. As I get older, I find I have less tolerance for nostalgia; when I hear an old white guy talk about the good ol’ days it’s like ya, good for you. Not so good for literally everyone else. Aziz is also a first generation American, so I just feel like there’s a huge swath of people that can identify with him.
Yesterday a trailer for Modern Romance was released – yes a trailer for a book – and I loved it. Who remembers personal ads? (And who remembers guys named Maurice?!) There were personal ads in the back of the newspaper, and even more serious seekers could be interviewed on tape by matchmaking agencies. Finding love, or the Western world’s idea of love, didn’t just get complicated and impersonal and superficial with the invention of the internet. Matchmaking has been happening for centuries in many different cultures. Today’s matchmakers are algorithms.
If you follow Aziz at all, you know he loves to talk about two things: food and dating. Modern Romance, co-written with a sociologist, is based on his act but it isn’t another book of essays by a comedy writer. (I think I’ve hit my limit with those, at least for the summer.) What’s interesting about the idea of this book is that it takes all of the neurosis and self-obsession of comedy and applies it to the neurosis and self-obsession of social media, online dating and courtship.
Aziz, who often talks about his parents’ long and happy arranged marriage and the confusion of today’s social mores – like when someone doesn’t text you back but is posting on social media so you know they are on their phone – has more to offer than “wow the world’s gone to shit there is no genuine connection.”
From the promos he’s been doing for the book, his take on the silliness and frustration of dating could be a public service announcement. Spelling and grammar matter. It is possible to be charming over text. Read receipts are a tell. And sometimes someone doesn’t text you back because they are questioning their sexual identity. Or she dropped her phone in the toilet.
Read an article adapted from Modern Romance here.