Around 18,000 people signed up to get a seat, though only 200 made it into the Village Underground on Monday night. Like he’s done previously while on tour, the pop-up show has been created as a warm-up space for him to test out new jokes and material—he’s put on similar pop-up shows in Philadelphia and Washington D.C.
During his set, Ansari used a loose joke as a lead into the incident from last year, where a woman accused him of sexual misconduct on Babe.net. He recalled a guy on the street mentioning he loved his Netflix show, only to find out that he was thinking of Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act. The guy realized his error. “‘Oh, no, Aziz, right?’ Yeah, yeah, that’s me. ‘Master of None!’ Yeah, yeah, that’s me. ‘Parks and Rec!’ Yeah, yeah, that’s me. ‘Treat yourself!’ Yeah, yeah, that’s me. ‘And you had the whole thing come out last year—sexual misconduct?’ No, no, no, no, no, no, that’s Hasan!”
The tone became more serious from there, as Ansari explained to the audience why he’s been fairly silent about the “whole thing.” First, he said he wanted to be able to process the incident and his response. Second, “it’s a terrifying thing to talk about… There were times I felt really upset and humiliated and embarrassed, and ultimately I just felt terrible this person felt this way,” he said. He continued, “But you know, after a year, how I feel about it is, I hope it was a step forward. It made me think about a lot, and I hope I’ve become a better person.”
During the moment, Ansari remembered a conversation he had with a friend, who told him he was reevaluating every single date he’s been on. “If that has made not just me but other guys think about this, and just be more thoughtful and aware and willing to go that extra mile, and make sure someone else is comfortable in that moment, that’s a good thing.”
“And I think it also just gave me perspective on my life,” Ansari said. “There was a moment,” he said, “where I was scared that I’d never be able to do this again.” He thought back to how, at the end of every show, he would always yell, “Thanks so much!” but that he never really meant it before. “But now, I really mean it. I mean it on a different level,” he said. “You canceled whatever you were supposed to do tonight, and you came out in the cold, and you waited in line… You did all this shit just to hear me talk for an hour and some change, and it means the world to me, so thank you so much.”
This looks to be the first time Ansari has really addressed last year’s sexual misconduct allegations since the statement he released after the story first came out. At this point, it’s uncertain whether this will be part of his routine throughout the tour.