Right Now

Aziz Ansari explores our lack of moral consensus on "cancel culture" in a new standup special.


In 2018, comedian and actor Aziz Ansari was accused of pressuring a date into sexual acts. His new Netflix standup special, Right Now, doesn't address whether his behavior was as blameworthy as many people thought. He seems unsure himself of how culpable he is, but he makes it clear that he isn't thrilled by the possibility that he may have made a woman feel used.

The special isn't just about dealing with online fallout over personal behavior. It has good jokes, such as when he mulls over what reinstating the draft might be like with "today's people." ("Uh, I can't go to war. I just started this company. We make eco-friendly shoes out of cashews. They're called cashoes!"). It also taps into relatable feelings: our collective yearning to give proper consideration to groups who have been wronged in the past and our lack of moral consensus on "cancel culture."

When Ansari thanks the audience for coming, he says that such thanks were perfunctory in the past but that he actually means it this time: "It means the world to me, because I saw the world where I don't ever get to do this again and it almost felt like I died." Burned by excesses of #MeToo, he acknowledges his much-debated sins with grace, never stooping to bitterness.

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  1. I’m glad he’s exploring our lack of moral consensus on cancel culture, but I’d still rather watch somebody who’s funny. That’s sort of my first rule of comedy – if I ain’t laughing, you ain’t funny. I tried watching this guy once, I did not laugh.

    1. I like him in the movie roles I’ve seen. I’ve heard good jokes from his standup specials from years ago. The more recent stuff from him seems to be woke cringe and not all that funny. I’ll still give him credit for being good at delivery, but his material is lame

    2. Don’t be silly. Public confessions and moral didacticism are the height of comedy gold. As Nick Gillespie says, we are in the midst of “an immense and sustained proliferation of quality film, video, TV, music, books, and other forms of creative expression.”

      1. We are indeed, and thus if you don’t like this particular comedian, there’s hundreds of others readily available to be watched.

        1. Haha, yeah, we’ve got country and western!

    3. Clearly you are not woke enough to realize that laughing is racist, or something.

  2. …he isn’t thrilled by the possibility that he may have made a woman feel used.

    He should be. He gave this woman a chance to be a member of the exclusive, powerful and coveted club of victimhood.

  3. …For the professional shortees…

  4. In 2018, comedian and actor Aziz Ansari was accused of pressuring a date into sexual acts.

    And it was total bullshit and he apologized like an idiot.

    1. Indeed. This was a classic example of the moving PC bar. I didn’t get any impression that he had threatened the woman involved — even at the level of “if you give me what I want, I could make it worth your while, but if you don’t, I’ll wreck your career”.

      Really it seemed like it was at the level of him whining and begging for sex. That’s unflattering and maybe even obnoxious, but how the hell does it rise to the level of “assault”, or even coercion? Even the writer of the story didn’t claim to be traumatized, so much as mildly disillusioned or disgusted.

  5. I like this guy, he’s done well and no matter what!
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