Five Questions with…Aziz Ansari

September 14th, 2010

Aziz Ansari came to New York City for college. While attending NYU, he got into stand-up comedy, which eventually led to Human Giant, a sketch-comedy show on MTV, and other acting roles. He’s perhaps best known for playing the lewd Raaaaaaaandy in Funny People (“It was an amalgam of stuff I’d see kill at comedy clubs that I thought was terrible”) and the lovelorn Tom Haverford on Parks and Recreation. To work on the show, Ansari had to move out to L.A., and once there, he “had to get used to a much higher intake of delicious tacos.” With such success at a young age, it would be easy to rest on his laurels, but that’s clearly not the case: The South Carolina native released his debut CD/DVD, Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening, in January; he hosted the 2010 MTV Movie Awards in June; and he comes to The Wellmont Theatre tomorrow. But first, Aziz Ansari answered Five Questions for The House List.

What band/music is your guilty pleasure to listen to?
Weirdly enough, just since this past weekend I’ve been heavily rocking “All That She Wants” by Ace of Base. Then yesterday, I saw they are doing a comeback and they replaced the two ladies with younger girls! That is brutal. Could you imagine being the girls in Ace of Base? Girls: “Yeah! A reunion is a great idea!” Dudes: “Hahahaha! Are you fucking kidding me?! You’re way too old to be in Ace of Base!”

Were you much of a sitcom fan before joining Parks and Rec? And if so, what are some of your favorites?
Definitely. I love(d) Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office (U.K. and U.S.), Extras, Eastbound and Down and Delocated. When I first sat down with Mike Schur and Greg Daniels, the executive producers on Parks, I thought the U.S. Office was the best network sitcom on TV (which they also produced), so signing up to work with them was an easy decision.

Does Nick Offerman ever offer you any facial-hair grooming tips?
Nick Offerman is the nicest, sweetest dude ever. We’re off for the summer and I really miss that dude and his mustache. When we wrapped I wanted him to shave his mustache and sell it for charity, but something happened and he had to shave it off real quick for an acting role and we couldn’t do it. Wait, that makes no sense, I don’t know what role would be like, “Nick, shave that thing NOW!” Anyway, something happened and he couldn’t preserve it.

When you do stand-up, you’re responsible for everything. And on Human Giant, it seems like the four of you did a lot of work. How is it being a supporting player on a TV show considering you don’t have as many responsibilities?
It is a fucking breeze! I come in, pretend to be a parks-department employee for a bit, and the rest of the time I’m watching Dexter in my trailer. I’m only slightly joking. The truth is I’m so lucky to be on a show like Parks where there are so many talented writers, producers and actors that I can just play a small part of a bigger entity. With something like Human Giant, my stand-up or hosting the MTV Movie Awards, a lot of more of it is on my shoulders. With Parks, I really trust our producers to make the show really funny. It’s great having one project where I have less responsibility but can still count on it to be something I’m proud of.

Where do you like to hang out in NYC? And do you ever think about living here again?
I’ve been filming a movie in Michigan this summer and escaping to New York when I can. I really miss living there. Some places I love are Momofuku Ssäm Bar, PDT, Bowery Ballroom (probably my favorite venue in NYC), Luke’s Lobster Roll, Shake Shack, Turntable Lab, Strand Bookstore, Bowery Hotel, Ace Hotel, Union Hall, Other Music, Cones, and Kim’s Music and Video (R.I.P. St. Mark’s location). I know I listed a lot of restaurants, but you have to understand a lot of my New York-trip itineraries are food-centric. I ABSOLUTELY think about moving back. L.A. is great and unfairly demonized, but New York on a nice day beats EVERYWHERE. I’ve thought about coming back and just working on stand-up and movie scripts for a few months, but things always pop up to derail plans of that nature. —R. Zizmor