The Sunday Conversation: Aziz Ansari of ‘Parks and Recreation’
Aziz Ansari likes to pick fights. As Leslie’s ( Amy Poehler) undermining lieutenant Tom Haverford on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” his attacks are snide but subtle. Ansari is much more aggressive. The 26-year-old comedian takes down everyone from his younger cousins to the TV competition. (Sample Twitter message: “Watch Parks & Rec tonight at 8:30! Bones is doing its special ‘blackface episode,’ watch if that’s your thing”) to journalists who continue to ask him about his already well-documented food obsessions.
We won’t hold a grudge. Ansari’s going to have more to complain about soon having just sold three movie projects to Judd Apatow -- one will have the South Carolina native reprising his role as profane comic Randy from Apatow’s “Funny People.” Ansari’s first stand-up special, “Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening,” is out on CD and DVD Tuesday. It will also air tonight on Comedy Central.
In the last episode of “Parks,” Tom showed a softer side, spilling his guts to Leslie about his divorce. Was that difficult for you?Not at all. I’ve been messaging a guy on Facebook that claims he is Daniel Day-Lewis. I think he’s really Daniel and he’s been getting back to me, telling me how to get emotional. He says to frown and look down a lot. So I tried a lot of that. I think it turned out pretty good.
The show has really found a rabid following in its second season. What didn’t viewers get during the first season?It takes awhile to flesh this kind of a show out. You watch the first six episodes of “Seinfeld” and it wasn’t all there yet. The reason you’d watch shows like “Parks and Recreation” and “The Office” is not because you’re going, “Oh, what’s going to happen at this paper company?"It’s because you get to know and love Michael and Dwight. People have not just gotten to hang out with us longer. They know us better. And we’re hilarious.
You’ve certainly done your part to boost ratings, trying to pick off Fox’s “Bones” fans on Twitter one by one. Yes, I’ve settled my beef with the “Bones” people. I’ve moved on. I need to start making fun of “The Mentalist,” even though it doesn’t even air at the same time as us. For some reason that show just seems goofy to me. It’s like, watch out, bad guys, it’s “The Mentalist”! That’s my next war.
In your stand-up, you really pick on your excitable young cousin Harris. How does he feel about you telling everyone that he’s chubby, loves to watch USA Network shows and likes to stuff his face with Cinnabon?You know, actually, I did ask him. I said, “Hey, Harris! Is it OK if I call you chubby on national TV?” He was like, “No!” So I was like, “What if I gave you an Xbox game?” And he was like, “OK.”
You talk about infiltrating his Facebook study groups and spoiling episodes of “24" for him. Does he even like you?I like seeing him freak out. And it’s all fake spoilers. Like I’d instant message him before a new episode and go, “Oh, man, that was crazy when Tony Almeida got shot!” He’d go nuts.
In every interview you give, people ask you about taco trucks. How many have you been to?I’ve been to a fair number of them. Some people took me on a taco tour one time. But my mainstays are the Taco Zone trucks and the Kogi Korean barbecue trucks.
Do you get any kind of special access?No, I can’t cut! I would get beat up by a whole lot of angry people.
I can understand a good taco truck, but you also talk a lot about Chick-fil-A. You don’t understand that? Wait a second, you tasted it and you didn’t get it? Is there any way for me to ask for another writer to be assigned this interview because there’s something wrong with your head? It’s the most delicious thing ever. I did just eat fish tacos two days in a row, so it’s probably fitting. I need new material. If I wasn’t doing comedy, I’d probably just be a fat unemployed Indian man.
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