The lithe and livewire US comedian Aziz Ansari arrives in London next week to play five nights at London's Soho Theatre. Though this run doesn't quite have the ring of playing the Carnegie Hall back in New York, as he did in January, Ansari's already sold out Soho dates are another sign of the growing interest in this business graduate-turned-comic, who will have just turned 28 when he lands here.
Known in America for his role in mockumentary sitcom Parks and Recreation (from the makers of the US version of The Office), and for brief TV cameos in Scrubs and Flight of the Conchords, Ansari's most notable film role so far has been as the salacious comic Randy in Judd Apatow's Funny People. So taken was Apatow with Ansari's portrayal of Randy that the comedy kingpin commissioned some more character work from him for Funny People's DVD extras. Ansari's next big-screen appearance, meanwhile, will come with the release of 30 Minutes or Less a bank-heist movie, starring The Social Network's Jesse Eisenberg.
The young comedian's capacity for winning friends and influencing people was something plain for all to see when he appeared at Montreal's pivotal Just for Laughs comedy festival in 2009. Ansari's full-hour show at the new Zoofest fringe festival impressed with a number of tight routines that owed a lot to Chris Rock, someone the Asian comic admits to being a keen student of.
One particular routine, about thread count for sheets, had the audience in stitches. It ends with Ansari likening to the buying of sheets to a drug deal and in terms of pace and delivery it gave a lot of bang for your buck. It was a also routine that set a standard for him that wasn't consistently reached at the time, but it's hard to see how, in the intervening period, he hasn't improved.
Examples of Ansari's wit that would support this include remarks from the recent Producers Guild Awards in LA; one gag remarked on the absence of any black characters checking their Facebook accounts in The Social Network, while another observed that 127 Hours' lack of colour is so marked that even James Franco's arm fails to turn black when he cuts it off.
'Aziz Ansari: The Dangerously Delicious Tour', Soho Theatre, London W1 (020 7478 0100; www.sohotheatre.com) 24 to 28 February, £20