Comedian dishes about future plans, rappers and Burger King
Published: Thursday, February 5, 2009
Updated: Thursday, February 5, 2009 06:02
Aziz Ansari is a comedian, actor, writer, producer and soon-to-be-movie star. Last year he appeared on HBO's "Flight of the Conchords" with a scene-stealing role as a racist fruit vendor. His current projects include MTV's "Human Giant," in which he is the star, writer and executive producer, and a current stint on ABC's "Scrubs." Later this year, Ansari will be appearing in "Observe and Report," "Funny People" and "I Love You Man."
Last week Ansari performed for a sold out crowd at The Middle East Downstairs as part of his "Glow in the Dark Standup Comedy Tour." As a young comedian (Ansari is 25), he connected well with the audience comprised mainly of college-aged students. The Thursday night crowd was ready for laughs after a lackluster opening set, and Ansari delivered in spades.
His material ran the gamut from race issues to technological problems with his bigoted Blackberry to a tale of messing with his high school-aged cousin via Facebook.com. When he announced he would be trying out some material he wrote for his character, a stand-up comedian named Randy in Judd Apatow's upcoming "Funny People" (2009), the crowd did not know what to expect.
The vulgar set lived up to the character's name, and was much different than Ansari's usual material. The audience, however, didn't miss a beat. The Randy act included an improvisational impression section that required the audience to call out suggestions of locations. Randy would then take these suggestions and do an impression of him participating in a sexual act in said location.
Most of the locations were relatively mundane, but the crowd's penchant for "Star Wars" references and one particularly politically incorrect historical reference nearly caused Ansari to break character. By the end of the show's allotted time Ansari and the audience had built up a rapport and the comedian decided to go over his usual time.
Despite his busy touring schedule, the Daily got the opportunity to ask Aziz Ansari a few questions via e-mail about his career, upcoming projects and various random tidbits.
Mitchell Geller: Why did you call this tour "Glow in the Dark," the same name that Kanye West choose for his recent tour? (Besides the reason that there's a little bit of Kanye in all of us.)
Aziz Ansari: I wanted a cool name for my tour like the Glow in the Dark Tour. I couldn't come up with one, so I just called it the Glow in the Dark tour. Also, I figured it would increase my chances of Kanye coming to my show, which it did! He came to the first LA date.
MG: How did you get into comedy in the first place?
AA: I started doing standup in college.
MG: According to Wikipedia.[org], the internet's most reliable source, you studied marketing at NYU. Has this background helped you at all with your current career?
AA: Not really, but I do use the word synergy constantly.
MG: If and when your life is made into an Oscar-baiting biopic, which current actor would you want to portray you? Which actress?
AA: I'd be honored if Diddy played the role of Aziz in an Aziz biopic and I simultaneously played Diddy in a Diddy biopic.
MG: What's your writing process like for your stand up material and/or for your television show, "Human Giant"?
AA: Standup -- I just jot things down in my Blackberry when they pop in my head or in a tiny notebook before a show and then work it out onstage. Usually it takes about 7-10 variations before I really find the best version of a joke. For Human Giant, the four of us and our show-runner Tom Gianas would pitch ideas for sketches with a rotating group of writers. The ideas we liked best would get written up as sketches and refined.
MG: On your blog, azizisbored.com, you've been on a quest to get on a Burger King commercial. How is this going?
AA: Well, to be clear, I want to be in the Diddy Burger King commercials. Thus far, no response from the Diddy or BK camp.
MG: What are your current media obsessions (music, movies, video games, internet videos) or big artistic inspirations?
AA: Music - TV on the Radio
Video Games - taking a break
Internet Videos - Mr. Chi-City!
TV � "Lost" and "24"
MG: What projects do you have in store for 2009?
AA: I'm going to be in a new show on NBC with Amy Poehler and the producers of "The Office" that will be on in April. I did a movie called "Observe and Report" with Seth Rogen which will also be out in April. It's about Seth being a mall cop. I play a guy that runs a lotion stand.
I also did a small part in "I Love You, Man" with Paul Rudd and Jason Segel. That movie comes out in March. I'll also be in Judd Apatow's new movie, "Funny People," which comes out end of July.
MG: What's your secret?
AA: Pomegranate juice.