Aziz Ansari to release Philly special straight to Netflix


The Internet is a wonderful, wonderful place and Netflix has a whole hell of a lot to do with that. Everyone's favorite streaming company recently announced plans to try its hand at more documentaries and special programming. Today, The New York Times reports that Netflix is set to deliver on that promise with a forthcoming comedy special from Aziz Ansari.

Until now, Netflix has given Mr. Ansari’s fans one more chance to hear his jokes, months or years after the telling. For his third stand-up special, Mr. Ansari is moving Netflix to the front of the line. His show “Buried Alive,” based on his tour of the same name, will make its Netflix debut on Nov. 1. It will be the biggest stand-up special distributed by Netflix to date, in much the same way that “House of Cards” was that streaming service’s first high-profile original drama.

There’s more comedy coming, the company says, as it opens another front of competition with HBO. In announcing the expansion into comedy specials and feature documentaries last month, the Netflix chief executive, Reed Hastings, said that the service had “become a big destination for fans of these much loved and often underdistributed genres.”


Ansari filmed his Buried Alive special at the Merriam Theater back in April. He was recently back in town for a show at Temple and made an appearance at Helium Comedy Club where he ran through his act from the Roast of James Franco and performed with Dave Attell.

For his last special, Ansari employed the straight-to-the-fans method popularized by Louis C.K., but said that he realized that that type of distribution limited his exposure.

Mr. Ansari plans to release “Buried Alive” as a $5 download, but only after the Netflix premiere. The straight-to-fans strategy, pioneered by Louis C. K. in 2011, was successful for Mr. Ansari last year, he said, but its downside was obvious: “You’re kind of preaching to the choir.”

He added, as modestly as possible, “I have a pretty big choir.” But with the new special, he said, “my goal is to get people that don’t know my stuff already, and maybe expand my audience.”

That’s where Netflix comes in. The service has more than 30 million subscribers in the United States, and its algorithms for recommending shows keep improving. Mr. Ansari said that when he was at home using Netflix, his own shows are recommended to him all the time. [The New York Times]