Aziz Ansari is an American actor and comedian. He stars as Tom Haverford on the NBC show Parks and Recreation. Ansari began his career performing standup comedy in New York City during the summer of 2000 while attending New York University. In 2007, he created and starred in the critically acclaimed MTV sketch comedy show Human Giant, which ran for two seasons. This led to acting roles in feature films, including Funny People, I Love You, Man, Observe and Report, and 30 Minutes or Less. In addition to his acting work, Ansari has continued to work as a standup comedian. He released his debut CD/DVD, entitled Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening, in January 2010 on Comedy Central Records, and still tours nationally between acting commitments. In 2010 and 2011, he performed his Dangerously Delicious tour. This tour was self-released for download on his website in March 2012 and debuted on Comedy Central in May 2012. He completed his third major tour of new material, Buried Alive, in the summer of 2013.
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It's Aziz Ansari.
I'm here to chat about my new Netflix series Master of None.
I have my co-creator/writer Alan Yang (/u/ItsAlanYang) with me here too.
We are so humbled by how much you guys have supported the show's first season. The online community has been so nice to the show. So thank you!
Some news - we have decided to do some official chats about each episode in the /r/masterofnone subreddit, so go subscribe. I'll also have some of the cast and writers come through too. All the info will be there, keep an eye on it.
Ok, Reddit, ASK ME (and Alan) ANYTHING!
Here's the proof: https://twitter.com/azizansari/status/664899390943977473
We'll start taking questions at 6PM EST.
THANKS FOR EVERYTHING GUYS. I posted this question below about how you'd like to do the episode by episode discussions in r/masterofnone. Let us know and Alan and I will make it happen.
Is Mindy Kaling real?
It was so awesome when Mindy randomly texted me "hahahahhaahaha I am real"
Also Gerrard aka Anush improvised that. Also, everyone in our crew always would yell "PRASHANT!" during any work day after we filmed that scene.
What's your cousin Harris' current favorite tv show?
Narcos/Master of None
I'm trying to get this Friends money, and you're fucking it up!
It is so weird and awesome seeing people quote the show. Yeah, we agreed Dev should have decent money from his commercials (Gogurt, Wendy's voiceover, Garden Depot) and national commercials actually pay a decent amount. (I based this kind of on Rob Huebel who was doing pretty well during his Inconsiderate Cellphone/NetZero days). We mainly did this to differentiate from the other other New York shows where characters are younger and not doing as well work wise. Also Dev is in a cheaper neighborhood and our production designer Amy Williams was very conscious about the stuff she bought for Dev.
Did the doctors actually treat new doctors to a steak dinner, but they decided they didn't want to have dinner with an Indian immigrant? Is that actually what happened to your dad? If so, he is a hero for staying in the country and not giving up in his pursuit of a better life for his kids.
Yes this really happened to my dad, they told him to eat in the cafeteria.
Hello Aziz and Alan! I loved your show and THANK YOU for representing Asian Americans in a humanizing portrayal and attacking the stereotypes.
My question is about Aziz in the show only dating White women. Was there any thought given to addressing the disparity between Asian women in media dating mostly or exclusively White men and Asian men in media hardly dating anyone at all? Did you guys want to bring up discussion about this by doing the reverse in your show?
So cool people talking about this kind of stuff and having all the conversations about race, etc. since the show premiered. As far as Rachel (and other love interests too), we didn't set out to cast someone white and auditioned people of all ethnic backgrounds, and wanted to cast the person I seemed to have the best chemistry with to sell this huge relationship arc. In the end, Noel blew us away. And, for the writing, I'm pulling a lot from my own real current relationship, which is with a "white" person - so we can do interesting scenes like the scene in 109 (Mornings) about the parents (which many South East Asians have told me really resonated with them and they'd never seen an interracial relationship depicted this way in TV/film before), or the awkwardness of the beginning of 110.
For the others, there was Claire Danes, who is a friend and a fucking legend in my book, so we were psyched to collaborate. And Nina Ariande just killed us with her Cartman impression.
Anyway, I'm a fan of all these conversations and there are interesting nuances in both interracial relationships and relationships between two Asian people -- if we get a second season it's definitely an interesting topic to address.
Bottom line - if we did a hundred episodes, we definitely wouldn't have Dev date a hundred white women a la Jerry Seinfeld in the hit television comedy Seinfeld. Race and dating is an intriguing issue that Alan and I have talked about in real life. Example: Alan really did have a white girlfriend's mom that hugged him more time in one dinner than his entire family had his whole life.
Damn that was a long answer! (But good question)
FYI Alan Yang is the voice of Paro!
We loved Harris and when we started the show we wanted to hire him as a writer immediately. I had worked with Harris in the Parks and Rec writers room for six years, and he was legitimately one of the funniest people I've ever met -- also, he himself would often say he was the fourth or fifth funniest person in the world... AND HE WASN'T WRONG.
Harris was kind of our number two guy in the writers room. When we would leave to write drafts, he would help run the room. He had a lot of experience from Parks and he contributed so much to Master of None. He helped us with story and of course, he pitched a lot of the funniest stuff in the show, including: the domino stuff with Colin Salmon, the whole Eminem run in the beginning of Nashville, and the turtle in a briefcase joke.
I think about him a lot and I miss him every day. He was one of my good friends and I wish he were here to see all of these people enjoying what he helped make.
The week we got all the insane reviews and the weekend when everyone just destroyed every episode and wrote how much they loved it - I must have went from being really happy to crying that Harris wasn't around to see it about a thousand times.
Dude sounds like that in real life
Yeah, same with my mom. When she goes "STOP THAT!" that's exactly how she yells at my dad IRL. And when she told me that "sat on the couch and cried" story in real life, it was in that exact same deadpan tone.
What's the story with Harris Wittels involvement with the series?
Harris was a writer on the show up until his passing. We dedicated the series to him. Some of my favorite Harris bits - turtle briefcase, 8 Mile convo, dominos, what else Alan?
I'm really loving your show, and I wanted to ask about the trip to Nashville episode. Did you ever take a girl for a 1st date to a different city? It sounds crazy! Like what if there was no chemistry or the other person sucks?
One of our writers had that experience and it fit with my "Monster Truck Rally Theory" from the book, so seemed perfect. Also loved going to Nashville so we could use that country music and I could eat at Arnold's Country Kitchen.
the parents episode was right in the feelz. I watched it with my indian friends (I'm taiwanese) and we just laughed because of how real it was
Yeah, I think that's why the show's diversity doesn't feel phony. Alan and I do hang out and we have a diverse crew of people, it's not like someone going "Hmmmm... these people need a 'black friend' and shoving someone in there."
Aziz and Alan - loved the show! I'm curious what made Netflix a more appealing option for the show rather than a traditional TV network? Loved being able to watch the whole season in one day, but what made you decide Netflix was the best medium to reach your audience? Did other networks make an offer?
We pitched only to premium spots cause we didn't want to deal with content issues. (Example: The show opens with Rachel and I talking about jizz/precum.) On Netflix, we never had one issue with content. Also, no need to edit to commercials. Most importantly though, Netflix really believed in us and told us they wanted to go straight to series and do 10 episodes. No pilot/development process. It was a great experience. Also, I love how everyone has gotten to just see all the episodes, rather than wait 9 weeks until someone can see an episode I really am proud of like Mornings.
Aziz! I loved the Indian Actors Episode. I’m a first generation Indian kid, and when I was 13 and chillin with friends I distinctly remember thinking I am definitely not going to do the indian accent to be funny ever again because it felt like I was getting laughed at.
We know you have decided not to use it in your comedy but did you ever have a “moment” when you decided that you were not going to do the indian accent in your comedy?
I'm not sure when that moment was, but yes, you put in a way that I relate to, where it feels like doing it so white people can laugh at it is what bums me out.
If you haven't found it already, here's the Spotify link to all of this season's music.
Shoutout to Music Sup Zach Cowie!
I'm huge fan and loved the show Master of None. My question is how much input did you have over the music? Shit was amazing.
I worked with Zach a lot and we'd text each other ideas all the time. I LOVE all the music in the show. He's just such an encyclopedia and just gave Alan and I amazing options anytime we didn't have anything our head. He came up with "Come to Daddy" in 101, which I love. He also pitched the Durutti Column song in 110 which I adore. And for Nashville, he made a huge playlist of awesome country music that I just devoured and we picked favorites together. Basically, he was an incredible collaborator. Working on the music on the show was a delight.
Have you come to a rock solid conclusion on the Mekhi Phifer line from 'Lose Yourself,' or is the jury still out?
NO! Waiting for Eminem to chime on this. Internet, make this happen, get Eminem to address this issue and close the case once and for all.
Em has actually answered this on the website Genius for the line. He said the name Phifer just rhymed. He's part owner of Genius.
WHOA. Clicking this shit NOW.
When people ask about Dev vs. Aziz, I'm gonna say its similar to Jimmy Smith, Jr. vs Eminem in 8-Mile.
We had been friends with Eric for a long time. All three of us love food, to the point where we even had a thing called Food Club where we would go to great restaurants together.
Aziz and Eric are really funny together, so when the two of them read stuff together, it just made all of us laugh a lot. They're a great pair of huggers too.
Also, shout out to the aspect ratio! ANAMORPHIC FOR LYFE. THAT SHIT IS CINEMATIC.
I love Eric, he is my Arnold in real life.
To both: if you could eradicate the world of one Asian stereotype or typical racist question what would it be? As a Korean it baffles my mind when someone asks if I'm from north or south...
"Do you know [random Indian person they know]?"
Yes. Curious to know if Netflix has approved a second season and if the writing has begun, what direction will it take?
We haven't heard officially from Netflix. But Alan and I, like true Asians, have started an insane chain of ideas already. The show came out less than a week ago. We really have been inspired by the massive reaction to the show.
Aziz, what's the best pasta you've ever had in your life (so far)?
That pasta on Dev's fridge is a pasta I really ate in Rome. It was tollerini alla gricia (I think?). Also I just went to Bologna and loved the tortellini en brodo I had there. Holy shit.
Well, let's be fair to Jerry. On one episode of Seinfeld he dated that Chinese lady, Donna Chang.
I love that Seinfeld2000 Instagram account. Peep that if you can.
I'm glad they went with Netflix, I really enjoyed binge watching the series.
I'm so glad we did too. It's insane talking to people who have all seen everyone episode already! Love it.
Mornings is my favorite episode of the season. Especially the montage at the end that showed how Dev and Rachel met and how their relationship grew.
That ending was really hard to think of and then I thought "what would Mike Schur do?" and came up with that.
Hey Aziz! I just finished Master of None. I’ll be honest I had NO clue you were coming out with a new show but I found it on Netflix and was instantly hooked after the first episode. Every character and plot is extremely relatable and I cannot thank you enough for all the laughs! I think its awesome how you had your actual parents on the show and how every episode had a modern day moral to tell. Lots of respect to you and Alan!
You guys are da best.
Aziz, what would you consider to be the most riskiest thing you’ve ever done? (i.e. move to a new city with no money, invest all your time in a project that might not work out, etc…)
And why did you do it?
Both, what’s your favorite restaurant in NYC?
Thank you guys very much for doing the AMA I have a feeling you guys have touched a lot of lives, you certainly have touched mine.
Riskiest thing I've done - going to a taco place without doing any research before hand.*
Favorite NYC restos - right now - Santina, Great NY Noodletown, Lupa, Uncle Boon's.
*Haha just kidding I'd never do that, was just joking.
Mr. Ansari -
Huge fan of the show. As a zero/first-gen (moved here when I was seven) Indian-American - your show really hits home. Thanks for putting it together and making it available to binge watch.
My questions -
Are the "racist" experiences in the show from real life?
How did you get someone to cast an "Indian-looking" guy as Tom Haverford? Was it written that way?
The casting thing for sure and I have heard of shows legit saying they have filled an ethnic quota.
For Parks - I got cast before the role was written just based on Mike Schur and Greg Daniels being fans. The character is really named Darwish. In the pilot, there is a joke about how he changed his name to Tom Haverford to get ahead, because no one would elect someone with a foreign sounding name, but then Barack Obama happened and he felt confused. I can't remember it, Alan??
The way you researched the taco places is the best and only modern representation, that I've seen, of how people actually make all of their decision on where to go.
Yeah that's why I hate the term "foodie," any reasonable person I know put's thought into where they eat a meal, no one is just like "FOOD!" and goes into a random place. Give them the weird fetish-y term (I like "food bozos" and "food weirdo")
Hey Aziz! How good is your Cartman impression?
It's quite good.
Why don't you follow anyone on twitter?
I just waste too much time on the Internet and just cut that (and Instagram) out. No offense to Twitterville.
When the whole cast of Parks and Rec was on Seth Meyers' show and when Aubrey and Jim started making out, was it the most shocking/hilarious thing you've ever seen?
Modern Romance as fantastic, btw.
That was awesome. I don't think Aubrey even told Jim. NOW YOU GOT ME MISSING MY PARKS FAM MAN
First of all, obviously, great freaking job. Question: the show comes off insanely realistic with how it looks at relationships and social norms which can't be said for almost every other show out there, on Netflix or off. Did you guys have to fight tooth and nail to hold on to a lot of your liberties with the content or was it somewhat painless?
It was painless. Netflix and Universal believed in us.
Aziz you are the maaaan!
Anyways I just wanted to ask what happened in your life to get you onto the path you are on now? Have you always wanted to be a comedian or did something specific happen at some point?
Thank you for making us regular peoples days a little better every time you're on tv keep it up!
I started doing standup while I was in NYU.
How come you did not call your show "Master of Naan" ?
Someone told me they heard us talking about the show on NPR and legit thought that was the title. Ahaha.