The Good Coming from Aziz Ansari

I know this topic has been done to death and I thought briefly of not adding my voice to this conversation, but all I can think about is my niece, my nephew, and my friends’ kids and it’s for them that I’m opening my big mouth. Several articles have come out saying that “Grace” and by extension all women was just being oversensitive and claiming she should have left if she was so uncomfortable. Several articles have cited the fact that women have been socialized to “let him down easy,” and actual statistics on intimate partner violence to explain her actions. I’m not comparing Aziz Ansari to predators like Harvey Weinstein or Larry Nassar. Ansari ins’t a predator and doesn’t deserve to lose his career. He is however a product of our deeply broken culture around dating and intimacy. When a young woman can get shot to death for asking a guy to please stop grinding on her we have a serious problem.

Now enough of the negatives of this story, because I want to talk about the positives. The silver lining here is that in homes and offices across the country a conversation has started between men and women about what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t. By opening a dialogue we can make this a teachable moment for everyone. I’ve actually had a few opportunities to educate men about male privilege and make them aware that there are simple things they take for granted, like crossing a dark parking lot alone or telling someone to take their hands off you, that they can do that women simply can’t without a certain level of risk. It was rough and there was a lot of mansplaining, but miraculously I maintained my patience long enough to explain why they should care if they make someone uncomfortable.

Maybe from here we can move forward to a better culture around dating and intimacy. And also if we can go ahead and do this quickly before my friends’ kids go to college and my niece and nephew reach dating age, that’d be great! Because so help me if anyone behaves the way that Aziz Ansari did towards any one of them, you’re going to see me on the news and my nephew is going to learn how to be a kind, considerate young man or his aunt is going to be after him. Let’s be better, everyone. Let’s as Bill and Ted said be excellent to each other.

Going Rogue: Abandoning a Set List

Stand up comedy is supposed to be a conversation between you and the audience. Sometimes, a conversation can go in an unexpected direction especially when that conversation is with me. Before a show, I throw together a set list, memorize, and rehearse at least once, but I also know that I don’t have to stick to it. New Years Eve Eve I did a show at City Streets and I started with the set list I picked out but the audience took me in a different direction and I went with it. This was admittedly a bit nerve-wracking but ultimately I’m glad I did it because I connected with this room full of people so much better than I would have otherwise. I do it for the laughs, not the blank stares so connecting with the audience is important. I went rogue like Jyn Erso and I don’t regret it and if you’re also a comic neither should you.