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Tuesday night, the Brockmire star joined Stephen Colbert on the Late Show and was asked if he understood "why some Indian American or South Asian American actors are offended" by Apu. "Yeah, not just actors," Azaria, who currently does "20 or 30" regular voices on the long-running series, said. "Of course I understand. I mean, it's come to my attention more and more, especially the last couple of years, as you say, that people in the South Asian community in this country have been fairly upset by the voice and characterization of Apu."
Azaria added that he intended to "spread laughter and joy" with the character and was not involved with the show's ill-received attempt at addressing the controversy earlier this month. "That's definitely not the message I want to send," Azaria said. "I've given this a lot of thought, really a lot of thought, and as I say, my eyes have been opened. I think the most important thing is we have to listen to South Asian people, Indian people in this country when they talk about what they feel and how they think about this character, what their American experience of it has been."
Part of that listening, Azaria urged, should include changing up the writers room to move the character forward. "I'm perfectly willing and happy to step aside or help transition it into something new," he said. "I really hope that's what The Simpsons does and it just not only makes sense but it just feels like the right thing to do to me."
Comedian Hari Kondabolu, whose documentary The Problem With Apu was released back in November, immediately responded to Azaria's comments via Twitter. "I appreciate what you said and how you said it," he said.
More people celebrated the moment as well: