The Hot Seat: Aziz Ansari
There's more to the rambunctious comedian than Raaaaaaandy.
Mon Feb 1 2010
Illustration: Rob Kelly
Aziz Ansari is having a busy year. In addition to his regular gig as the snarky civil servant Tom Haverford on NBC's Parks and Recreation, he's taking new material on the road through the end of February and promoting his new Comedy Central special, Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening, out on DVD now. Oh, and did we mention the three comedies he's developing for Judd Apatow—including one based on Randy, the asinine stand-up comedian Ansari played in Funny People? Phew. In between all of that, he took the time to answer some questions about Kanye West and his obsession with The Wire.
RECOMMENDED: Full list of Hot Seat interviews
You were nominated for—but lost—our 2009 Joke of the Year honor. Is there anything you'd like to say to the voting public?
Wow, I didn't know about this loss until you told me. Thanks a lot for bumming me out.
If it's any consolation, I thought your joke was awesome. So the clich of "it's an honor to be nominated" isn't true?
I submitted that joke because it was short and would fit in the space. In general, I feel stand-up translated to print falls flat, so I would say it's an honor to have a joke that fits in the allotted space be nominated, even though I think stand-up that is translated to print in general falls flat.
Fair enough. In your Comedy Central special, you have a whole bit about getting chummy with Kanye West. Does he know you're doing it?
I performed that whole Kanye routine over speakerphone for him when I did a show in San Francisco, to make sure he was cool with all of it before I put it down on the special. He was cool with all of it.
What about your younger cousins? You make fun of them, too.
Now, unfortunately, they get beat up by this big kid at their school named Mongo. It's really a bummer. No, I'm just kidding—they are fine and still chubby weird kids that watch Burn Notice and Psych all the time.
Randy, your character from Funny People, also makes an appearance in the special. What was the inspiration for him?
Randy was inspired mainly by the rapper Soulja Boy, and an amalgam of just bad ideas for stand-ups—catchphrases, signature dances, having a DJ, talking way too much about getting your dick sucked, etc.
Does your own personality inform characters like him or Tom Haverford?
There are some aspects of my personality in those characters—hopefully none of the really douchey parts.
So what can we expect at your shows at Comix this week?
I've been trying to write new material to tour with later in 2010, and I'll be working on this material at Comix. I won't be doing any material from Intimate Moments; maybe one or two if people want to hear it. It's hard because some people are like, "Hey! I already heard that shit!" and other people are like, "Hey, why didn't you do any of that old shit?!? I like that shit." I also got a bunch of my favorite comics like Todd Barry, Hannibal Buress, John Mulaney and more to join me.
Will Randy make an appearance?
I may bust him out for a bit. I guess I should work on some new Randy material, too.
Ever since I saw the episode of your old show, Human Giant, with Michael K. Williams, I've wanted to ask: Are you a big fan of The Wire?
The Wire is hands down my favorite TV show ever, and I've been lucky enough to meet and work with some of the cast. I was standing behind Jamie Hector [who plays Marlo Stanfield] in line at a party once, and they were checking his name off the list; I was hoping the person mispronounced it, just so he could say, "My name is my name!" And then maybe Chris Partlow and Snoop could take that person out and put 'em in the vacants. If you haven't seen The Wire, I just wasted your time with those last few sentences.
Yeah, it's my favorite show ever, too. I'm originally from Baltimore.
For real? I'm answering these questions at Orlando's. I'm with Avon and Poot.
I'll be right over. Finally, since this is our Singles issue, got any hilarious dating stories you want to share?
I'll answer this as Randy: "Good: Yeah, I met this girl at Whole Foods and we got our fuck on all night long. Bad: One time I got peanut butter all over my dick!"
Aziz Ansari performs at Comix Thu 4–Sat 6. Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening is out now on DVD.