On Monday night, comedian Aziz Ansari performed what he described as a “pop-up” show in New York City to work out material before embarking on the next leg of his 2019 North American tour. Although Ansari previously shied away from addressing the sexual misconduct allegations levied against him in a Babe.net post in 2018, Vulture reports that he broke his silence during last night’s set.
According to Vulture editor Jesse David Fox, who attended last night’s show at the Village Underground, Ansari eased in to addressing allegations with a joke. From Vulture:
He recalled a guy on the street telling him he loved his Netflix show, only to realize he was talking about Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act. The guy quickly realized his mistake. “‘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!”
Fox wrote that Ansari’s voice turned “somber” as he addressed the Babe.net story, which he referred to as the “whole thing.” Ansari said that he took his time in publicly addressing the allegations because he wanted to carefully consider what he was going to say and because “it’s a terrifying thing to talk about.”
“There were times I felt really upset and humiliated and embarrassed, and ultimately I just felt terrible this person felt this way…but you know, after a year, how I feel about it is, I hope it was a step forward,” he said. “It made me think about a lot, and I hope I’ve become a better person.”
Ansari then brought up a conversation he said he had with a friend about enthusiastic consent and the current cultural climate, which the friend said had made him rethink his behavior towards women while on dates.
“If that has made not just me but other guys think about this, and just be more thoughtful and aware and willing to go that extra mile and make sure someone else is comfortable in that moment, that’s a good thing,” Ansari said.
He went on to express gratitude for the fact that people still show up to see him perform.
“There was a moment where I was scared that I’d never be able to do this again,” Ansari said. “You canceled whatever you were supposed to do tonight, and you came out in the cold, and you waited in line…You did all this shit just to hear me talk for an hour and some change, and it means the world to me, so thank you so much.”
Other than a statement Ansari released shortly after the Babe article was published, last night’s performance was the first reported incident of the comedian addressing the allegations beyond a passing mention. His tone sounds more conciliatory than the reactionary tenor New Yorker writer Eren Orbey described regarding a standup set Ansari performed last summer.