In his recent comedy special on Netflix, titled Aziz Ansari Right Now, the comedian addresses the sexual misconduct allegation lodged against him at the height of the #MeToo movement.
Ansari told the audience that although discussing the wrongdoing may not be "the most hilarious way to begin a comedy show," he wanted to express how he felt about the situation, "before we share this night together."
"You know, I haven't said much about that whole thing, but I've talked about it on this tour, 'cause you're here and it means a lot to me," he acknowledged. "I'm sure there are some of you that are curious how I feel about that whole situation." Rather than delivering the obligatory, "I'm sorry," or worse, "I have no recollection," Ansari confronted the allegations by discussing his introspective state in the aftermath of the woman's claims.
"There's times I felt scared, there's times I felt humiliated, there's times I felt embarrassed, and ultimately I just felt terrible that this person felt this way," he said. "After a year or so, I just hope it was a step forward. It moved things forward for me, made me think about a lot. I hope I've become a better person."
Last year, an unnamed woman who only described herself as a 23-year-old photographer living in Brooklyn, accused Ansari of unwanted advances and sexual pressuring. The comedian promptly apologized for his actions, however, the accusations sparked a debate within the movement over the varying degrees of #MeToo allegations, and how victims reveal traumatic experiences to the public.
The Master of None creator further expands on his reflection in the upcoming special. "I always think about a conversation I had with one of my friends where he was like, 'You know what, man? That whole thing made me think about every date I've ever been on.' And I thought, 'wow! That's pretty incredible.' If this made not just me but other people be more thoughtful, then that's a good thing, and that's how I feel about it."
After he received applause from the audience, Ansari proceeded into his comedic material.
Among the many topics he delves into in the Spike Jonze-directed special, Ansari delivers a bit on the Indian Simpsons character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. Last year, the creators of the long-running show were met with criticisms from many who believe Apu's character depicts a racist stereotype that should be discontinued.
At the onset of his setup, Ansari calls out "newly woke white people" who are more annoying than blunt racists because they introduce countless talking points. He then tells the audience that he learned about the Apu controversy long ago. "Yeah, Candice. I am aware of it. I saw it 30 years ago. It's a white guy doing an Indian voice. I appreciate the support, but things don't just become racist when white people figure it out."
"Don't get me wrong, I don't like those Simpsons' people, either," he continued, before doing an impression of the show's co-creator Matt Groening. "Why didn't anyone say anything 30 years ago? We're winning awards and stuff and no one said anything." Aziz then returned to his original voice, "Because Indian people could only say something like four years ago, OK? We've had a slow rise in the culture."
The white people subject also included Ansari asking a woman in the audience how she would grade Crazy Rich Asians. When she says she would give it an 85 percent, as opposed to the 97 it earned on Rotten Tomatoes, Ansari asks her why the 12-point knock. Recognizing her nervousness, he assures her, “I’m just messing with you right now. It doesn’t matter what you think about the movie, it’s just fun to make white people feel bad.”
Aziz Ansari Right Now will be available for streaming on Netflix on July 9.