I was first introduced to Aziz Ansari in 2009’s “Observe and Report.” The South Carolina-born award-winning comedian and actor, film producer and writer has since played roles in the critically acclaimed sitcoms “Parks and Recreation” and “Master of None”—which he created and has won three Emmys and a Golden Globe. So, when I read that he was going on tour after a year-long hiatus—he had faced sexual misconduct allegations stemming from a story published in babe about a woman named “Grace” and her encounter with the comedian—I wanted to see him perform at the Chicago Theatre. I also secretly hoped he would publicly provide insight into how he was dealing with the #MeToo controversy.
He brought up that Kevin Hart incident
Ansari’s show started with some strong performances by openers Matteo Lane (a Chicago native) and New Yorker, Sam Morril. Ansari was casual in jeans, sneakers and a t-shirt and used the next 65 minutes to delve into and praise the current cultural climate. The set revolved around the concept of ongoing improvement and the idea that we’re all flawed people who make mistakes. He brought up how it’s a scary time to be working on jokes referencing Kevin Hart’s homophobic tweets from 2011 that resulted in him stepping down from hosting the 2019 Oscar’s. However, he alluded that pretty much everything that was once harmless is considered offensive now, adding that most people in the room have likely experienced a moment of disgrace at some point in their lives. He reassured us, though, that we’re all getting better.
“…we’re ALL shitty people, we ALL get better.”
He also brought up that R. Kelly incident
Ansari later lamented on other controversies involving celebrities, such as R. Kelly and the Lifetime documentary “Surviving R. Kelly,”which traces the singer’s history of abusing young women (this spurned the #MuteRKelly movement). While celebrities like Lady Gaga and Chance the Rapper issued apologetic statements condemning R. Kelly, Ansari said, “You know who they have footage of [supporting R. Kelly]? ME.” He described how, in a stand-up set back in 2010, he had gushed about an R. Kelly concert and how, looking back, the bit “has not aged well.” Now, he remains “terrified” that Wendy Williams is going to dig up that old material and dissect it on her show. Ansari also referenced the Michael Jackson documentary “Leaving Neverland”, which aired on HBO and which detailed the allegations of child sexual abuse by the late pop icon.
He brought up HIS incident
The second half of Ansari’s set diverted from the cancel culture commentary and instead had moments of contemplation that discussed aging, growing up and his current girlfriend, Serena Skov Campbell. “I’m not that good a person, but I’m working on it,” he said, talking about his relationship with his parents and grandmother. After discussing how important it is to appreciate our families while we can (his grandmother has Alzheimer’s), he tackled the most anticipated topic directly. “It’s a very scary thing for me to talk about,” he said seriously, adding that he felt “terrible this person felt this way.” Ansari previously issued a statement stating that he thought the encounter was “completely consensual.” Through some arduous thinking, Ansari used the experience to give him perspective on life and, as a result, become a better person—a step forward.
“There was a moment where I was scared that I’d never be able to do this again.”
He mentioned being mistaken for fellow Netflix personality Hasan Minhaj by a fan on the street. Joking about what happened after the guy realized his mistake, Ansari said, “‘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!’”At the end, he genuinely thanked the audience for attending his show, saying that while a lot of stuff ends up on the internet, this was a special night for everyone to be together.
Aziz Ansari is currently on a U.S. and Europe tour. Tickets are on sale now at azizansari.com.
Have you seen Aziz Ansari on tour? What were your thoughts? Share them in the comments!
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