Aziz Ansari: Funny Style (2011 Cover Story & Gallery)

Aziz Ansari: Funny Style (2011 Cover Story & Gallery)Interview by Brendan Frederick; Photography by Kareem Black; Styling by Matthew Henson; Additional Credits.

It seems like you only recently started wearing suits in real life. Is that Tom’s influence?
I like wearing suits when I perform. The last tour I did was in smaller rock clubs, and this time it was a theater tour, so it seems like I should be wearing a suit instead of just some jeans. But I do think Tom has a unique sense of style and it’s always fun to dress as that character. Early on, when they started talking about my character, I was like, “I think this guy should be really into his suits, because no one else in a small town like that would be into those brands.”

 
If there were a bunch of models, me, Jay-Z, and Kanye, what model is gonna come up to me? They'd talk to their bodyguards before they talk to me.
 

Do you feel like you have a Southern accent?
I used to have a super-strong Southern accent, but I’ve lost it over time. When I say certain words, it’ll come out. I remember watching a video of me in a spelling bee when I was in the third grade, and the guy tells me, “All right, come up here and tell me your name, what school you’re from, and what city you’re from.” And then you see me walk up, I’m this tiny little brown kid—way smaller than everybody else—and I’m like [speaks quickly with a Southern accent] “My name’s Aziz Ansari from Marlboro Academy in Bennettsville, South Carolina.” It was that strong, I’m not exaggerating.

And now you hang out with the biggest rappers in the world. I heard you were in the house when Kanye and Jay were recording Watch the Throne.
Yeah, a couple of times when they’ve been in New York, I’ve just stopped by to say hello and hear them record—that album’s gonna be amazing. I’m such a huge fan of those guys, I definitely feel lucky to see stuff like that every now and then.

Do you remember what they were recording?
Some stuff with Swizz, and it was so funny just hearing him do the Swizz Beatz ad-libs. Just like, [imitates Swizz] “Uh-huh, Goddamnit! 1-2, 1-2. Vroooom!” I was just sitting there dying, I thought that was the funniest thing in the world. I wanna be Swizz Beatz. I don’t want to do comedy anymore, I just want to do ad-libs. Just make noises before rappers start rapping. [Laughs.] That would be a great job.

When you’re around rappers like that, do you ever try to swag it out extra hard?
No, I just try to stay quiet and stand in the corner. Just be thankful I’m there and listen to the music. I’m not sitting there poppin’ bottles and dancing. [Laughs.]

So Kanye hasn’t given you any style advice?
No, he usually just makes fun of whatever I’m wearing. [Laughs.] One time I saw him and I had on a brown leather jacket. He was like, “Ha-ha—you look like a regular dude!” I was like, “Well, not everyone can wear a purple sequin jacket and have people not laugh at him.” He’s like, “Yeah, I know I look ridiculous, but I can pull it off.”

Kanye’s been known to surround himself with beautiful models. Have you had a chance to scoop up any of his leftovers?
Theoretically, if there’s a situation where there’s a bunch of models, me, Jay-Z, and Kanye, what model is gonna come up to me? [Laughs.] I think they would probably talk to their bodyguards before they come talk to me.

Bummer. It seems like you kind of created a monster with your character from Funny People. Do fans still come up to you and scream “RAAAAAAAANDY!!”?
In my experience, any time people see anyone they know from TV, they’ll just yell things at them. So, for me, whether it’s Randy or something I said on Parks and Rec, it’s just something that comes with the territory. It doesn’t bother me at all. Sure, I’d prefer that people didn’t yell stuff at me, but what are you gonna to do?

When we were doing Funny People, they were like, “You know, if you say ‘Randy’ like that, people are going to yell it at you.” So I asked Adam Sandler,  “What do people yell at you? You must have done 100 movies, there must be a billion things.” He said “You know what people yell the most? ‘You can do eeeet!’ [from The Waterboy.]” And I was like, “You don’t even say that in the movie!” He’s like, “I know.” [Laughs.] With comedians, people just want to yell the thing that made them laugh.

Tags: aziz-ansari, complex-cover-stories
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