Aziz Ismail Ansari (//; 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 for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy. With his Golden Globe win, Ansari became the first actor of Asian descent to win a Golden Globe for acting in television.
Ansari at the 2012 Time 100 gala
|Birth name||Aziz Ismail Ansari|
|Born||February 23, 1983|
Columbia, South Carolina, U.S.
|Medium||Stand-up, television, film, books|
|Alma mater||New York University|
|Genres||Observational comedy, blue comedy, surreal humor, satire|
|Subject(s)||Everyday life, American culture, popular culture, human interaction, human behavior, self-deprecation|
|Notable works and roles||Tom Haverford in Parks and Recreation|
Chet in 30 Minutes or Less
Dev in Master of None
Ansari began his career performing stand-up comedy in New York City in mid-2000 while attending New York University. In 2007, he created and starred in the 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. He has provided voice work in Ice Age: Continental Drift and Epic.
As a stand-up comedian, Ansari released his debut comedy special, Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening, in January 2010 on Comedy Central Records, and tours nationally between acting commitments. In 2010 and 2011, he performed his Dangerously Delicious tour, which 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, Buried Alive, in the summer of 2013. His fourth comedy special, Live at Madison Square Garden, was released on Netflix in 2015. 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.
Aziz Ansari was born in Columbia, South Carolina, to a Tamil Muslim family from Tamil Nadu, India. Ansari grew up in Bennettsville, South Carolina, where he attended Marlboro Academy as well as the South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics. He graduated from the New York University Stern School of Business with a degree in marketing. His mother, Fatima, is an obstetrician and gynecologist and his father, Shoukath, is a gastroenterologist. Both of his parents have appeared in seasons 1 and 2 of Master of None.
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", and he won the Jury Award for "Best Standup" at HBO's 2006 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado.
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
In June 2008, Ansari was announced as the first cast hire for NBC's comedy Parks and Recreation. The show debuted in April 2009 with Ansari playing Tom Haverford, an underachieving government official with extreme self-confidence and dreams of being successful. He was a main character of the show for its seven seasons. Ansari's performance has received praise from critics, including Entertainment Weekly naming him one of 2009's "Breakout TV Stars", TV Guide naming him a "Scene Stealer", and Yahoo! TV placing him in the No. 1 spot on its list of "TV MVPS".
Master of None
Ansari stars as Dev Shah in the Netflix original series Master of None, created and written with Parks and Recreation writer Alan Yang. Ansari directed several episodes of the series. The 10-episode series premiered on November 6, 2015, to very positive reviews. 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.
In November 2016, Ansari writes about his mother and father following 'Master of None'. In his post Ansari opens up about how he felt like a “complete piece of rubbish” for not visiting them in South Carolina as much as he could have.
Ansari's performance in the show earned him a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy. The series earned four Emmy nominations in 2016: Outstanding Comedy Series, 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". Yang and Ansari were also honored with a Peabody Award in May 2016 for the series.
The show was renewed for a second season, which was released on May 12, 2017. The second season has also received strong reviews and has a 100% "Certified Fresh" ranking on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
MTV Movie Awards
On June 6, 2010, Ansari hosted the 2010 MTV Movie Awards. The show opened with a spoof of the film Precious with Ansari appearing as Aziz "Precious" Ansari. Ansari also created the short film Stunt Kidz, which reunited him with his Human Giant castmates. A second short film was also made with actor Zach Galifianakis in which Ansari portrayed Taavon, Galifianakis' "swagger coach". He accepted Galifianakis' award for Best Comedic Performance in character as Taavon. Ansari also performed a musical tribute to the film Avatar in the style of singer R. Kelly.
Other television work
In addition to his work on Parks and Recreation, Ansari appeared on the HBO series Flight of the Conchords 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.
Ansari hosted the January 21, 2017 episode of Saturday Night Live, becoming the first person of Indian origin to do so.
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. Ansari is attached to star in another film with Danny McBride based on an idea from Ansari and 30 Rock writer Matt Hubbard. 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.
Amongst various acting commitments, Ansari has continued performing and touring 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, Ansari headlined his own comedy tour, the Glow in the Dark Tour. The material on this 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, with a CD/LP/DVD release on January 19.
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".
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.
In March 2012, Ansari announced a new tour entitled "Buried Alive", with dates scheduled for Q2/Q3 2012. 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. 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. The performance was a response to the events of that past year, and touched on topics ranging from cultural appropriation, racism to sexual misconduct. His next comedy special Aziz Ansari: Right Now was released on July 9, 2019.
In 2012, Ansari played a talking goat in an animated video for Oxfam America to encourage donations.
Following the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, Ansari performed a benefit for the victims at the Wilbur Theater in Boston, Massachusetts. All ticket proceeds benefited The One Fund & The Officer Richard Donohue Fund.
He has 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."
Ansari is a "foodie" (although he dislikes the term); 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?'" They also produced a tongue-in-cheek video about the club for Jash, filming them debating whether or not restaurants were plaque-worthy.
Ansari was a close friend of the late comedian Harris Wittels and they frequently worked together. He has a brother, Aniz Adam Ansari, who co-wrote an episode of Master of None.
Allegation of sexual misconduct
In January 2018, a woman using the pseudonym "Grace" accused Ansari of sexual misconduct in an article on Babe.net by Katie Way. The article was met with a polarized response among commentators and the public with disagreement as to whether the incident described in the Babe article constituted sexual misconduct. Ansari stated that the encounter "by all indications was completely consensual," but critics have stated that his actions were misogynistic, lacked affirmative consent, and spoke to a larger culture of harmful male expectations. 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. Way was criticized for her handling of the story. In an article in The Hindu, Vasundhara Sirnate Drennan wrote that "The issue is far more complicated than has been presented in knee-jerk opinion pieces." 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.
Ansari addressed the incident in his 2019 Netflix special Aziz Ansari: Right Now, telling the audience, "I just felt terrible that this person felt this way." He discussed the impact the story had on his friends, saying "If this made not just me but other people be more thoughtful, then that's a good thing, and that's how I feel about it." Ansari has been criticized for not directly apologizing for his alleged behavior.
|2006||School for Scoundrels||Classmate|
|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|
|This Is the End||Himself|
|2014||Date and Switch||Marcus|
|Food Club||Captain Ansari||Short|
|2017||The Problem with Apu||Himself||Documentary|
|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|
|2008||Worst Week||Morgue employee||Episode: "Pilot"|
|2009||Reno 911!||Insurance representative||3 episodes|
|Scrubs||Ed Dhandapani||4 episodes|
|2009–15||Parks and Recreation||Tom Haverford||Main cast, 121 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"|
|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|
|2013–15||The League||Dr. Hector Rocha||2 episodes|
|2015||Kroll Show||Sly Dufrense||Episode: "Body Bouncers"|
Episode: "I'm Gonna Git You Suckoid"
|Live at Madison Square Garden||Himself||TV special|
|2015–2017||Master of None||Dev Shah||Also co-creator, executive producer, writer, director. 2 seasons|
|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|
Awards and nominations
In 2016, Ansari was the recipient of Smithsonian Magazine's American Ingenuity Award for Performing Arts. In 2017, Rolling Stone ranked Aziz Ansari 49th in their list of greatest stand-up comedians of all time.
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