What’s up: This is Aziz Ansari’s first comedy special since a 2018 allegation of sexual misconduct against him appeared in the now-defunct publication Babe.net. Although the comedian never says, “I’m sorry,” in the special, Ansari addresses the allegation at the beginning and end of his set. Ansari claims the allegation changed him as a person in a number of ways, hopefully for the better, and that he’s now extra grateful for the fans that stuck with him. Between these bookend remarks, Ansari attempts to blur the lines of guilt and consequences, with general arguments along the lines of ― only the guiltless should cast stones and all bad things are not equal.
Sum-up: Spike Jonze directed this and used a cinematic style of close-up shots, lens flares and grainy film to make this seem more intimate than a big comedic special. The contrast is particularly stark compared with Ansari’s last special, the 2015 “Aziz Ansari: Live at Madison Square Garden.” Ansari clearly gave much thought into crafting a humble persona. In this, Ansari trades his typical high-fashion suit attire for a simple Metallica T-shirt and jeans. When he speaks on the allegations, his voice changes into a quieter, more meek presentation. Throughout most of the performance, Ansari simply sits on a stool. Rather than a “knock the audience out with jokes” approach, Ansari tells longer stories of introspection. Again, he never says “I’m sorry,” but this is clearly a tail-between-the-legs special. At one point, Ansari says that his previous larger-than-life persona is “dead.” This Ansari wants to start over.