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Aziz Ansari

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Aziz Ansari
Aziz Ansari 2012 Shankbone.JPG
Ansari at the 2012 Time 100 gala
Birth nameAziz Ismail Ansari
Born (1983-02-23) February 23, 1983 (age 37)
Columbia, South Carolina, U.S.
MediumStand-up, television, film, books
Alma materNew York University (BBA)
Years active2004–present
GenresObservational comedy, blue comedy, surreal humor, satire
Subject(s)Everyday life, American culture, popular culture, human interaction, human behavior, self-deprecation
Notable works and roles
Websiteazizansari.com

Aziz Ismail Ansari[1] (/ənˈsɑːri/; born February 23, 1983) is an American actor, writer, producer, director, and comedian. He is known for his role as Tom Haverford on the NBC series Parks and Recreation (2009–2015) and as creator and star of the Netflix series Master of None (2015–2017) for which he won several acting and writing awards, including two Emmys and a Golden Globe, which was the first award received by an Asian American actor for acting on television.[2][3][4]

Ansari began performing comedy in New York City while a student at New York University in 2000. He later co-created and starred in the MTV sketch comedy show Human Giant, after which he had acting roles in a number of feature films.

As a stand-up comedian, Ansari released his first comedy special, Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening, in January 2010 on Comedy Central Records. He continues to perform stand-up on tour and on Netflix. His first book, Modern Romance: An Investigation, was released in June 2015. He was included in the Time 100 list of most influential people in 2016.[5] In July 2019, Ansari released his fifth comedy special Aziz Ansari: Right Now, which was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album.[6]

Early life[edit]

Aziz Ansari was born in Columbia, South Carolina, to a Tamil Muslim family from Tamil Nadu, India.[7][8] Ansari grew up in Bennettsville, South Carolina,[9] where he attended Marlboro Academy as well as the South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics.[10] He graduated from the New York University Stern School of Business in 2004, with a Bachelor of Business degree in marketing.[11][12] His mother, Fatima, is an obstetrician and gynecologist and his father, Shoukath, is a gastroenterologist.[12][13][14] Both of his parents have appeared in the two seasons of Master of None.

Career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Ansari frequently performed at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, as well as weekly shows such as Invite Them Up. In 2005, Rolling Stone included him in their annual "Hot List" as their choice for the "Hot Standup",[15] and he won the Jury Award for "Best Standup" at HBO's 2006 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado.[16]

Human Giant[edit]

From left to right, Human Giant's Aziz Ansari, Rob Huebel, Jason Woliner, and Paul Scheer in May 2007

Around the summer of 2005, Ansari began collaborating with fellow comedians Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer (both from the improv troupe Respecto Montalban), as well as director Jason Woliner to make short films. The first series created by the group was Shutterbugs, which followed Huebel and Ansari as cutthroat child talent agents. This was followed up by the Illusionators, which starred Ansari and Scheer as Criss Angel–style goth magicians. In mid-2006, MTV greenlit "Human Giant", a sketch series from the group, which debuted April 5, 2007. The show ran for two seasons and the group was offered a third season, but they opted to pursue other opportunities.

Parks and Recreation[edit]

In June 2008, Ansari was announced as the first cast hire for NBC's comedy Parks and Recreation.[17] The show debuted in April 2009 with Ansari playing one of the main characters, Tom Haverford, for the show's seven seasons. Ansari's performance was praised by critics, including Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide, and Yahoo! TV, which placed him in the No. 1 spot on its list of "TV MVPS".[18]

Master of None[edit]

Starting in November, 2015, Ansari starred as Dev Shah in the Netflix original series Master of None, which he created and wrote with Parks and Recreation writer Alan Yang. [19][20] James Poniewozik of The New York Times called the show "the year's best comedy straight out of the gate" and praised its genre-crossing appeal.[21] The show ran for two seasons.[22]

Ansari's performance in the show earned him a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy.[23] The series earned four Emmy nominations in 2016: Outstanding Comedy Series,[24] Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for Ansari and Yang, and Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for Ansari; Yang and Ansari won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for the episode "Parents".[25] Yang and Ansari were also honored with a Peabody Award in May 2016 for the series.[26][27]

In 2018 Ansari won a Golden Globe for best actor in a TV comedy for the show; this made him the first Asian-American actor to win a Golden Globe for acting in television.[2][28][29][30][3]

Other television work[edit]

Aziz Ansari at the 71st Annual Peabody Awards Luncheon in 2012

In addition to his work on Parks and Recreation, Ansari appeared on the HBO series Flight of the Conchords[17] as an eccentric fruit vendor who had difficulty telling the difference between Australians and New Zealanders. He had a recurring role in season eight of the ABC sitcom Scrubs as Ed, a new intern at the hospital. Ansari's character was written off the show so he could work on Parks and Recreation. Ansari also has a recurring role on the animated comedy Bob's Burgers as Darryl.

In August 2011, Ansari made a cameo appearance in the music video for "Otis" by Jay-Z and Kanye West from their collaborative album Watch the Throne.[31]

Ansari hosted the January 21, 2017 episode of Saturday Night Live, becoming the first person of Indian origin to do so.[32]

Film career[edit]

Ansari has made appearances in several films, including Get Him to the Greek, I Love You, Man, 30 Minutes or Less, This Is the End, and Observe and Report. In 2009, Ansari appeared in the Judd Apatow film Funny People. Apatow liked Ansari's character, "Randy", and commissioned him and Human Giant collaborator Jason Woliner to create online shorts centered around his character, to promote the film. These shorts proved successful and the character became the subject of one of the film ideas Ansari and Woliner are developing for Apatow Productions. Two other ideas in development are Let's Do This, a road movie about two motivational speakers, and an untitled film about two disgraced astronauts who must return to space to clear their names.[33] Ansari is attached to star in another film with Danny McBride based on an idea from Ansari and 30 Rock writer Matt Hubbard.[34] In April 2010, it was announced that Ansari would star in the film 30 Minutes or Less. The film was directed by Ruben Fleischer and co-starred Jesse Eisenberg and McBride. The film was released on August 12, 2011.

Stand-up comedy[edit]

Aziz Ansari at the 2012 Great GoogaMooga Festival in Prospect Park, Brooklyn

Ansari tours as a stand-up comedian. In 2006 and 2007, he toured with the Comedians of Comedy and Flight of the Conchords. In late 2008 and early 2009, his own comedy tour, the Glow in the Dark Tour, became the basis for a DVD/CD special for Comedy Central. The set, titled Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening, aired January 17, 2010.[35]

Ansari's comedy style tends to focus on aspects of his personal life. "I like talking about things that are going on in my life, because that's always going to be different and original", he says. "No one else is gonna be talking about my personal experiences".[36]

In July 2010, Ansari began a new tour, Dangerously Delicious, which was in theaters across the United States; stops included the Bonnaroo Music Festival and Carnegie Hall in New York City. The tour wrapped with a filming for a special, Dangerously Delicious at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C., in June 2011. This special was released on his website in March 2012 for download or stream.[37]

In March 2012, Ansari announced a new tour entitled "Buried Alive", with dates scheduled for Q2/Q3 2012.[37] A third stand-up special, Aziz Ansari: Buried Alive, was filmed during the tour at the Merriam Theater in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and premiered on Netflix on November 1, 2013.[38] His 2015 special, Aziz Ansari: Live at Madison Square Garden, also premiered on Netflix.

In February 2019, Ansari began a new stand-up tour entitled The Road to Nowhere, which was his official public return after the sexual-misconduct allegations and media backlash that put his career on a year-long hiatus in 2018.[39] The performance was a response to the events of that past year, and touched on topics ranging from cultural appropriation, racism to sexual misconduct.[40] His next comedy special Aziz Ansari: Right Now was released on July 9, 2019.[41]

In May 2019, Ansari teamed up with Dave Chappelle for three shows in Austin, Texas at the Paramount Theatre.[42]

Writing[edit]

Ansari's book, Modern Romance: An Investigation, was released on June 16, 2015. The book is about the comedic pitfalls of dating in the modern world and was written with sociologist Eric Klinenberg.[43]

Personal life[edit]

Ansari was raised as a Muslim,[44] but has described himself as "not religious" on Twitter.[45]

In 2014 he self-identified as a feminist, saying his girlfriend has helped influence him. Ansari also incorporated an episode about feminism titled "Ladies and Gentlemen" in Master of None. In an interview in 2015, he spoke about the episode's meaningfulness to him saying "I thought it was interesting that this is happening, yet so many people are unaware of it. And the problem is people aren't talking about it. What I've learned, as a guy, is to just ask women questions and listen to what they have to say. Go to your group of female friends and ask them about times they've experienced sexism at their job, and you'll get blown away by the things they tell you."[46][47]

Ansari is a "foodie" (although he dislikes the term);[48] he and his friends Eric Wareheim and Jason Woliner have formed what they called "The Food Club", which involves them dressing up in suits and captain hats and rewarding restaurants with "Food Club" plaques. The plaques have their faces engraved along with the words: "The Food Club has dined here and deemed it plaque-worthy". He explained to Vanity Fair, "It's a really serious-looking plaque and all of the restaurants we've given it to have put it front and center. It's funny because people will walk into a restaurant and be like, 'What the fuck is the Food Club? Who are these guys etched in gold?'"[49] They also produced a tongue-in-cheek video about the club for Jash, filming them debating whether or not restaurants were plaque-worthy.[50]

Ansari was a close friend of the comedian Harris Wittels and they frequently worked together.[51][52] He has a brother, Aniz Adam Ansari,[53] who co-wrote an episode of Master of None.[54][55]

Ansari purchased an apartment in Tribeca in 2018 that had previously been owned by New York Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh.[56]

As of January 2019, Ansari is dating Danish physicist Serena Campbell.[57][58]

Allegation of sexual misconduct[edit]

In January 2018, a woman using the pseudonym "Grace" accused Ansari of sexual misconduct in an article on Babe.net, a website that was aimed at Millennial and Gen-Z readers. According to the article, the woman later texted Ansari expressing her discomfort, and he replied to her with an apology.[59][60][61]

Media critic Allison Davis, who later interviewed the article's author, Katie Way, called the Babe.net article "some combination of as-told-to and reported piece and morning-after group-chat gossip", saying that it became a "flashpoint of discussion about #MeToo".[62] There was disagreement in media commentary as to whether the incident described in the Babe article constituted sexual misconduct.[63] Some agreed with Ansari, who stated that the encounter "by all indications was completely consensual,"[64] while others stated that his actions were misogynistic, lacked affirmative consent, and spoke to a larger culture of harmful male expectations.[65][66] Others say that Ansari's actions did not constitute sexual misconduct and that his accuser's narrative trivializes the #MeToo movement against forms of sexual abuse.[67][68] Way was criticized for her handling of the story and for not following accepted journalistic standards.[69][70] For The Atlantic, James Hamblin wrote that these "stories of gray areas are exactly what [...] need to be told and discussed." "Even Ansari, the semi-ironic expert who authored a book on interpersonal communication [...] was seeing something totally different from his date, Grace", who felt coerced.[66] Ansari receded from the public eye following the incident and resumed performing stand-up comedy in May of 2018.[71]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2006 School for Scoundrels Classmate
2008 The Rocker Aziz
2009 Funny People Randy Springs
Observe and Report Saddamn
I Love You, Man Eugene
2010 Get Him to the Greek Matty Briggs
2011 30 Minutes or Less Chet
What's Your Number? Jay Voice
2012 Ice Age: Continental Drift Squint Voice
Cruel Summer Short
2013 Epic Mub Voice
This Is the End Himself
2014 Date and Switch Marcus
Food Club Captain Ansari Short
2017 The Problem with Apu[72] Himself Documentary

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2004 Uncle Morty's Dub Shack MC Bricklayer Episode: "Didja Listen to My Demo?"
2007 Flight of the Conchords Sinjay Episode "Drive By"
2007–08 Human Giant Various roles Also co-creator, writer, executive producer
2 seasons – 20 Episodes
2008 Worst Week Morgue employee Episode: "Pilot"
2009 Reno 911! Insurance representative 3 episodes
Scrubs Ed Dhandapani 4 episodes
2009–15, 2020 Parks and Recreation Tom Haverford Main cast, 122 episodes, 7 seasons
2010 Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening Himself TV special
The Life & Times of Tim Gabe Episode: "Nagging Blonde/Tim & the Elephant"
2012 Dangerously Delicious Himself TV special
NTSF:SD:SUV:: The Toucher Episode: "Prairie Dog Companion"
2012–18 Bob's Burgers Darryl (voice) 10 episodes
2013 The Venture Bros. Martin (voice) Episode: "What Color Is Your Cleansuit?"
Comedy Bang! Bang! Himself Episode: "Aziz Ansari Wears A Charcoal Blazer"
The Comedy Central Roast of James Franco Roaster (himself) TV special
The Getaway Host Episode: "Aziz Ansari in Hong Kong"
Buried Alive Himself TV special
Wander Over Yonder Westley Voice
Episode: "The Little Guy"
Arcade Fire in Here Comes The Night Time Li'l Bud TV special
2013–14 Ben 10: Omniverse Billy Billions (voice) 2 episodes
2013–15 The League Dr. Hector Rocha 2 episodes
2013–15 Adventure Time DMO (voice) 3 episodes
2014 Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee Himself (guest) Episode: "It's Like Pushing a Building Off a Cliff"
2015 Kroll Show Sly Dufrense Episode: "Body Bouncers"
Major Lazer Goosh (voice) Episode: "I'm Gonna Git You Suckoid"
Live at Madison Square Garden Himself TV special
2015–17 Master of None Dev Shah Also co-creator, executive producer, writer, director.
2 Seasons – 20 Episodes
2016 Animals. Charles (voice) Episode: "Dogs."
2017 Saturday Night Live Himself/Host Episode: "Aziz Ansari/Big Sean"
2018 Ugly Delicious Himself Episode: "Pizza."
2019 Aziz Ansari: Right Now Himself Netflix special
2020 Mark Twain Prize: Dave Chappelle Himself Television Special, PBS

Music videos[edit]

Year Artist Song Role
2011 Jay-Z and Kanye West "Otis" Himself[73]

Discography[edit]

Standup Specials[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Ansari, Aziz; Klinenberg, Eric (2015). Modern Romance: An Investigation. Penguin Press. ISBN 978-1-59420-627-6.

Awards and nominations[edit]

In 2016, Ansari was the recipient of Smithsonian Magazine's American Ingenuity Award for Performing Arts.[74] In 2017, Rolling Stone ranked Aziz Ansari 49th in their list of greatest stand-up comedians of all time.[75]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2009
Denver Film Critics Society Award Best Acting Ensemble I Love You, Man Nominated
2010
Teen Choice Award Choice Comedian Nominated
2012
Poppy Awards Best Supporting Actor, Comedy Parks and Recreation Nominated
2013
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
2014
American Comedy Award Best Comedy Supporting Actor – TV[76] Nominated
Comedy Special of the Year[77] Aziz Ansari: Buried Alive Nominated
BTVA Voice Acting Award Breakthrough Voice Actor of the Year Nominated
Best Male Vocal Performance in a Feature Film in a Supporting Role Epic Nominated
Young Hollywood Award Cuz You're Funny[78] Nominated
Variety Power of Comedy Award[79] Won
2016
Golden Globe Award Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy[23] Master of None Nominated
Critics' Choice Television Award Best Actor in a Comedy Series[80] Nominated
Best Comedy Series[80] Won
Dorian Award TV Comedy of the Year Nominated
Gold Derby TV Award Best Comedy Series Nominated
Best Comedy Lead Actor Nominated
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series Nominated
Online Film & Television Association Award Best Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
Best Direction in a Comedy Series Nominated
Best Writing in a Comedy Series Nominated
Peabody Award[27][81] Won
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series[82] Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series[82]
(shared with Alan Yang)
Won
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series[82] Nominated
TCA Award Individual Achievement in Comedy Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Comedy Nominated
Outstanding New Program Nominated
2017
People's Choice Awards Favorite Premium Series Actor[83] Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series[82]
(shared with Lena Waithe)
Won
TCA Award Individual Achievement in Comedy Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Comedy Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy Won [84][85][86][87]
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
2020
Grammy Award Best Comedy Album Right Now Nominated [88]

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