orn into a Tamil Muslim family and growing up in South Carolina – with an early passion for Metallica guitar solos – Aziz Ansari has longbeen unique. And so it is with his comedy. Where the genre’s reigning royals – Louis CK and Amy Schumer – rule over the brash, the surreal and the cynical, Ansari’s appeal is built on the laser focus he shines on modern life and pop culture; side interests being hip-hop, food and cool suits. Right now – white hot is what he is, Ansari’s articulate brand of comedy giving him global recognition; one of only a handful of comics to have sold out New York’s Madison Square Garden. At just 32, the suddenlyeverywhere comic has penned a The New York Times bestselling book, notched Judd Apatow credits ( Get Him to the Greek and Funny People) and, of course, enjoyed a career-making run on the brilliant single camera comedy, Parks and Recreation, which wrapped earlier this year. As the scene-stealing Tom Haverford, he spliced parts of his own personality to the character: a gleeful comedic energy laced with a slew of acute cultural references. On stage, he dances between the sublime and ridiculous. He’ll leap from riffs on hot wings and 50 Cent, to analysing curiously inventive racial slurs. He’ll get audience members to share creepy texts from dudes at clubs, then do a play-byplay of pornography set in a doughnut store. It’s a brand of comedy that’s as insightful as it is breezy, with lift-the-curtain observations on contemporary life his truest punchlines – his labelling of this generation as “the rudest, fakiest people ever”; the realities of everyday sexism; the belief that mobile phones are the most intimate partner we have. Talk to Ansari and he doesn’t fall into the clichéd Sad Clown trope. While his humour fows at a less frenetic pace, it packs no less punch – pivoting from lucid insights into life and work, to the pitch-perfect kickers that have won him hearts and laughs. That combination of wit and wonder led Ansari to write the book Modern Romance: An Investigation (his publisher providing additional encouragement with a rumoured seven-fgure advance). A broad look at dating in the digital world, Ansari collaborated with sociologist Eric Klinenberg and explores, say, Tinder meetups entwined with empirical data and graphs. It is quite the potent literary cocktail. “Think about it in terms of pop music,” the pair commented in June. “When a new song featuring Drake comes on the radio, you’re like, ‘What is this song? Oh another Drake song. Big deal.’ [But] In a way, we are all like that Drake song: ‘The more time you spend with us, the more likely we are to get stuck in your head.’” Like his contemporaries, Ansari is proving himself to be a multiplatform entertainment prospect – returning to Netfix next month with original series Master of None. The show follows 30-year-old actor Dev and his daily struggles in New York – from fguring out food options, to deciding what to do with his life. The usual, then.
GQ: Most comics have unique ways of creating new material – what’s your approach? Aziz Ansari:
Sometimes you have nights where you’re like, ‘I hate every joke I have. I hate all of it.’ You go through weird