Johann Rucker’s review published on Letterboxd:
N O T . F U N N Y .
I did the math at work, and I've been a fan of Aziz Ansari's since fifth grade. HUMAN GIANT on MTV2 was my introduction to alternative comedy and the scenes in NY/LA that were popping off at the time; it's a show I still think about a lot, and motivated a large portion of my taste (or lack thereof) in comedy. Aziz, Paul Scheer, and Rob Huebel; all three massively successful, still very funny, and very cool dudes. I would go on to see Aziz perform live twice, read his book, purchase all of his specials, and fawn over MASTER OF NONE. He is a creative mind I have always appreciated, and will always be interested in.
I started to falter a bit when reading MODERN ROMANCE, a book that he wrote in 2015 about the state of love in the digital age. He purported it as being an ethnography of sorts, a research study into how American dating culture has evolved with the introduction of high-speed technology, like SMS, Twitter, Facebook, etc. It sucked! It was some "we live in a society" bullshit that I could not read all the way through. Someone who is so verbose on-stage somehow managed to write Bitches Be Like: The Book. No thanks.
Then, you have the whole babe.net situation. I won't go into it, but it turns out Aziz is a massively irresponsible and disrespectful asshole, who is mean/objectifying to women he is courting. It also turns out that a no-name publication (re: glorified blog) can really stretch some details to get their name out there. While both parties share fault, it's clear that Aziz is still an asshole, however you choose to cut it. Instead of apologizing in any meaningful way, he traveled the world, ate really fancy food, took some really funny pictures, and embarked on a world tour: literally exactly what he was planning on doing before the allegations broke. No lessons learned, no insight gleaned, nothing.
Instead, he chose to double-down on it with his new special, surprise-dropped on Netflix with almost no fan-fare and a bombshell directorial credit from Spike Jonze. He's changed his style up, opting for a more Midwestern college burnout look than his usual suit and tie, both choices being equally annoying. He's sitting on a stool rather than jumping around. His voice and inflection has changed, as he is now more Kermit-ish and often whispers in an impossible-to-understand frequency. He's way more "earnest", and there's less jokes in the [checks notes] stand-up special. It's not good. It lands with the energy of a sopping wet towel. It also doesn't help that when he isn't puppy dog apologizing for Doing A Sexual Misconduct, he spends his time railing against wokeness; fam, it is 2019 and we are ALL in agreement that these people are idiots. Move on. You, Louis CK, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, all of you! Need! To! Be! Funny! Again!!
Looks cool tho.