What’s Funny about It

Normally, I do not watch stand-up comedy television shows produced by cable channels. In my experience, cable comedy uses more four letter words than the “boys in the hood” in the name of humor. Neither the routines nor the four letter words are funny. But, I was curious about one stand-up comic on Netflixs who was, not black nor white, but Indian. So, I began to watch the comedy of Aziz Ansari.


At first, Mr. Ansari annoyed me because he talked about the courage of his immigrant parents. His mother felt lonely as a bride of only a week before traveling across an ocean to a land of foreign customs and no relatives. His father, a doctor, seemed to suffer a bit of discrimination working under another doctor at the hospital where he had a job as a doctor.


Coming from immigrant ancestors who traversed an ocean to come to a New World with no skills, no relatives, no job prospects and no money in their pockets, I didn’t think that Mr. Ansari’ rendition of the so called plight of his parents either sympathetic nor funny.


To add insult to injury, Mr. Ansari punctuated his opening with the seemingly required (for cable television) number of four letter words. I was just about to abort this routine when Mr. Ansari began talking about social media and its impact on inter-personal social behavior.


Recently, during the morning rush hour, I began riding the high-speed line to a university where I was auditing a class. At least 85% of the passengers standing on the platform or sitting on the train were on their phones listening (using ear buds) to or texting others, not on the platform, nor sitting in the train.


Experiencing first hand the impact of the cell phone on modern day casual acknowledgement of another human being – it does not exist- I listened to his amusing, but pathos filled routine about the rudeness of people due to the instantaneousness of social media. Aziz started with the habit among young people of making and breaking plans to meet another because something better came up. Or, of not making plans at all by saying such things as, “Call you later”, which means that, “I’m waiting to see if something better will come up.” Mr. Ansari went on and on essentially applying the callous indifference of one person to another through satellites and cell towers, which although used to form inter-personal relationships, actually destroys human empathy.


Although the routine did not make me laugh, it did make me think. That kind of self-serving behavior was confined to adolescence. Today with so many marriages ending in divorce, more and people in their 40’s, 50’s and beyond use social media to find other potential partners. Sadly, this kind of search leads more and more into self-serving behavior by adults who aught to know better. Sigh.

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