You better open that door before Nashville’s burgeoning comedy scene beats it down
It’s 11:45 p.m. on a Tuesday night and Aziz Ansari is backstage at Third Man Records, eyeballing his set list and powering through an order of Prince’s hot chicken like a champ.
Just hours ago, Ansari — best known to the world as Tom Haverford, the swagged-out entrepreneur on NBC’s Parks & Recreation — tweeted an announcement for a free last-minute midnight show in Third Man’s famed Blue Room, inviting hundreds of local comedy fans to abandon their late-night plans and catch him working out new material onstage. More than 300 people were admitted, and many more were turned away once the room hit capacity.
“I wouldn’t stand in line for five hours to see me, but that’s because I’m me,” Ansari jokes before launching into an unpolished hour of in-progress jokes, tackling everything from the futility of meeting people in bars to an audience member’s flirty text-message conversation with a woman he’d met a couple days earlier — a Brit whose number was stored under “Steph London.” An audience of Jack White fans and comedy nerds hangs on his every word until the house lights come on around 1:15 a.m.
The amazing thing isn’t that Aziz Ansari, an A-list comedian who sold out the 2,400-seat Andrew Jackson Hall in April 2012, would opt to do a free show in the middle of the night in Nashville — it’s that the city rose to the occasion.