Aziz Ansari Live! at Segerstrom

As you know, there is no photography or video recording allowed here, because this is a respectable theater,” rings out the iconic, high-pitched voice. “But what I’ve come to learn is that nobody gives a fuck. So before the show starts, everyone pull out your phones and I’ll just pose for you.”

The audience laughs and, indeed, many pull out their cameras and phones, prepped to capture something that will prove to their friends back home that they got to see THE Aziz Ansari, in the flesh. Ansari bends his knees, tilts his head back, raises a hand and flash! Now everyone has an Instagram-worthy photo of the comedian caught mid-laugh. You might even be able to convince your friends that he was in the middle of delivering a punchline.

Ansari straightens in his sleek black suit, reaching his full 5’6” of comical power.

“Enjoy your shitty, blurry photos that you’re never going to look at ever again!” he says happily.

Rolling Stone’s “Funniest Man Under 30” in 2012, Aziz Ansari, performed at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall last Wednesday night in Costa Mesa with two shows as a part of his stand-up comedy tour, “Aziz Ansari Live!”

If you’re a big “Parks and Recreation” fan and are looking for some funny Lil’ Sebastian or Rent-A-Swag references, you will be disappointed. You want to see Tom Haverford, the fictional slacker character from Pawnee that created visibility for Ansari across American televisions everywhere, but Tom Haverford isn’t the one performing.

Ansari could crack jokes about tax returns or the stock market and the audience would still howl with laughter. Luckily for us, he centered his performance around topics that were not only engaging, but relevant to today’s society, using his garnered fame as a platform to both educate and inform the audience. And what better way to kick off the night than with every comedian’s go-to subject: vegetarianism.

Segerstrom Center - Aziz Ansari - Photo by Lucas Michael 2014

Courtesy of Lucas Michael

Unlike many other performers who mock the growing popularity of the vegetarian movement, Ansari (a carnivore himself) treats the lifestyle with respect while maintaining his wit and comedic timing that he has become known for, combining the heavy topic of animal cruelty with pop culture references.

“I cannot tell you how long I have waited to come up with an excuse to discuss both vegetarianism and Ja Rule in one act,” Ansari admits, a satisfactory smile spreading across his face.

While a lot of his comedy is drawn from his own observations, Ansari also enjoys collecting stories from others by encouraging audience participation. A second-generation Indian American born and raised in South Carolina whose parents had to sacrifice their livelihood for his future, the immigrant story is one that Ansari holds close to his heart. He spent a few minutes asking other immigrant audience members for their own stories to highlight their journeys.

Another topic Ansari sheds light on is women and sexual harassment. While sharing his friends’ crazy stories and joking lightly, Ansari also makes sure to have female audience members clap if they’ve ever experienced a similar situation, in order to show how big an issue sexual harassment is in America.

One of Ansari’s favorite topics to discuss is modern-day dating — in fact, the comedian plans on publishing a book about the ways technology interferes with dating, due for release next year. He calls out the younger audience members for being “really shitty people” for not replying to texts and generally avoiding individuals as a way of letting them know they’re not interested. He also criticizes today’s generation’s reputation for canceling plans last minute. Ansari thinks nostalgically to a time where cell phones didn’t exist, and dates were made by phone call.

“You couldn’t text someone last minute to flake out,” Ansari says. “So if Phil didn’t show up at the movie theater at the time he said he would, that meant he was DEAD. That would be the only acceptable excuse for not showing up. He was DEAD.”

He then proceeds to address the monotonous cycle of marriage and raising kids, a subject that has older audience members laughing and nodding in agreement, as he displays his method acting skills, pacing across the stage, reenacting the various stages of life.

“Your kids finally leave and you have the house all to yourselves!” shouts Ansari excitedly, throwing his hands in the air, “but wait, you’re a lot older now, you’re tired. Oh no, my wife is sick. She’s in the hospital, she’s really sick, she died. Oh no, now I’m really sick. Then you die.”

Only Ansari could strut around stage in a pressed suit and polished Italian leather shoes and tackle contemporary topics in a tasteful fashion without sounding like a dick. When “Parks and Recreation” eventually ends (as sad as we are to see it go) take comfort knowing that Aziz Ansari will still have a bright future as a comedian.