Why No One Knows What Is Funny: Is Aziz Ansari’s “Master Of None” Really, Really Good or Really, Really Bad?

As a lot of conversations among comedians start, I was on the train with my friend Mark. I asked him if he’d seen Master of None (MoN) on Netflix yet. He said, “Yeah! I thought it was awful – I couldn’t watch past the first episode.” And of course I was like, “What?! That’s crazy! I think it’s awesome!”

I lied: his real name isn’t Mark. Way to lose the reader’s trust 15 seconds in.

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How People Respond to the Question “How Would You Best Describe Me?”

So, I decided to ask a bunch of people what they thought of me. Why? Well, It’s a really awkward question for people to answer and it’s fun to watch people deal with that. And I thought it could be funny. And I’m pretty much the worst at describing anything, especially myself. Why not let the masses do it for me?

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I Get You, Mikhail Bulgakov

I watched seasons one and two of A Young Doctor’s Notebook (AYDN) on Netflix all in one day. That may sound like an accomplishment, but it’s only eight half-hour long episodes. Total. So don’t make me out for a saint just yet (later, sure – do what you want). The show is a weird little miniseries thingy-kabob, which makes it all the more intriguing. It stars Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm, who play the younger and older version of the same doctor stuck in a remote Russian village during the Russian Revolution.

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Is Sarah Silverman Right About the P.C. Wars?

A few weeks ago, this article came out in the A.V. Club about how Sarah Silverman sides with college students when it comes to being politically correct in comedy. A lot of comics have come out and said that lately playing colleges just isn’t the same as it used to be. College students won’t laugh at certain “edgy” material because it isn’t politically correct (or more often, I think, doesn’t sound P.C.). Many top comics who used to tour colleges now totally neglect the college venues because of it. As a recent graduate who spent almost all of my previous on-stage time in front of other students, I know from first hand experience that there’s a difference telling a joke to students rather than a normal audience. A particular joke about chopsticks that I wrote while at school comes to mind as the type of material that often won’t work on a college campus, but is still a funny joke pretty much anywhere else:

I think Asians aren’t impressed by magic because a wand is just half of chopsticks.

There’s more to the joke, but even just this opening line can rouse boos from a college coffee house, just because it sounds racist. I’m not going to argue whether it actually is racist or not, but I’ll tell you that I think the joke is funny because it’s so obviously false and ridiculous, not because it’s making fun of Asians at all. The involvement of Asian people is totally tangential to the humor of the joke! But, the mere mention of Asians is enough to get a lot of students hot and bothered. Trust me, the joke does just fine here in New York City.

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Do I Like Leno?

Walking down Steinway Street in Astoria, I stumbled upon an establishment I have grown to love, the Salvation Army Store. You can’t pass the Salvation Army Store and NOT go in – you never know if you’ll find a Ukrainian unicorn place setting. So I did go in. Pretty rapidly I realized there was nothing there of immediate need (out of place settings). However, I did browse the books section and found this gem: Leading With My Chin, a collection of stories by Jay Leno spanning from his childhood to the time he officially took over as permanent host of The Tonight Show. The sign on the bookshelf read “All hardcover books – $1.” I looked inside the cover: “US = $22.” Booyah! This is what I live for! THIS is why I go to the Salvation Army Store.

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How Comedy Is Like Cooking

I’ve been watching the show Mind of a Chef, a fantastic show on Netflix narrated and produced by Anthony Bourdain. It follows a series of chefs, each of whom get their own eight episodes focusing on a range of different topics and themes within the world of cooking. For example, “Noodle,” “Southerners,” “Roots,” and “Latitude” are some of the episode titles. The host of the show changes, giving each half of the season a different feel. However, the format of the show remains largely the same: the host meets up with different chefs, farmers, butchers, etc. and cooks delicious-looking dishes that, for whatever reason, the camera never shows being eaten.

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