When youre Aziz Ansari, people come up to you pretty frequently and say they enjoyed your stand-up specials. The first one had its premiere on Comedy Central in 2010; the second had its debut as a $5 Internet download in 2012. And when youre Ansari, you cant help noticing what people say next.
They always mention that they watched it on Netflix, said Ansari, 30, the comedian best known as a creator of the MTV sketch-comedy series Human Giant and a star of the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation.
For his third stand-up special, 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 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 services first high-profile original drama.
Theres 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 the service had become a big destination for fans of these much loved and often under-distributed genres.
Ansaris conversations with his fans bolster Hastings assertion. Netflix seems like its the closest delivery service of media we have that actually matches up to our preferences and expectations, he said in a telephone interview during a break from Parks and Recreation production. (Lately he has been binge-viewing the ABC drama Scandal through Netflix.)
Ansari said he was amused when a fan asked him on Twitter: When are you going to put out another stand-up special on Netflix? I need more free stand-up. Netflix, of course, costs $8 a month.
Its so convenient, you dont even think about the fact that youre paying for it, Ansari said.
Netflixs forays into licensing the first-run rights to television shows, much as a TV network does, are predicated on the belief that people are more likely to keep paying if the service has exclusive programming. In June, the service presented a comedy special by John Hodgman, and last week it presented the premiere of one by Mike Birbiglia, who wrote positively on Twitter of Netflixs international reach: I signed a crazy contract that I think included other planets.
Netflix has comedy specials by Marc Maron and Kathleen Madigan in the works. Ansaris show is unlike those before it, a Netflix spokeswoman said, because the company intends to put a significant promotional campaign behind Buried Alive, billing it as original programming on par with Arrested Development or Orange Is the New Black.
Weve been working to make Netflix a great home for comedians to do their best work and to support their live performance careers, and having Aziz debut his new show with us is a validation of that strategy, Ted Sarandos, the chief content officer for Netflix, said in an email.
Ansari plans to release Buried Alive as a $5 download, but only after the Netflix premiere.