In Aziz Ansari Right Now, the comedian and actor’s third Netflix standup special, Ansari brings his shrewd humor to numerous subjects, including some timely topics such as the #MeToo movement and Crazy Rich Asians. He also addresses the Apu controversy on The Simpsons, criticizing creator Matt Groening for the way he handled the situation. It’s not the first time Ansari has broached the topic of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon; the character, voiced by Hank Azaria, has come under fire for reinforcing stereotypes about Indian culture. But the trouble with Apu only became mainstream in recent years, as Ansari notes an increase in “newly woke white people.” Joking about how it came to his attention, Ansari says, “Yeah, Candice. I am aware of it. I saw it 30 years ago. It’s a white guy doing an Indian voice. I appreciate the support, but things don’t just become racist when white people figure it out.” The comedian went on to mock Groening’s response to the controversy: “Why didn’t anyone say anything 30 years ago? We’re winning awards and stuff and no one said anything. Because,” Ansari says, reverting to his own voice, “Indian people could only say something like four years ago, OK? We’ve had a slow rise in the culture.”
In the clip above, Ansari also discusses the cultural phenomenon of Crazy Rich Asians—specifically how white people have reacted to the film. When an audience member struggles to explain why she would rate the film at 85 percent (versus the Rotten Tomatoes score of 97), Ansari jokes, “I’m just messing with you. It doesn’t matter what you think about the movie. It’s just fun to make white people feel bad.” The comedian mentions how someone told him they didn’t care for Crazy Rich Asians until they watched it with an Asian friend and saw how the film affected them, to which he responds, “Could you imagine if I watched Paul Bart: Mall Cop? And I was like, ‘I didn’t really like it, but then I watched it again with one of my chubby white friends—really changed my perspective.’”
Directed by Spike Jonze and featuring footage from his performance at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music in New York, Aziz Ansari Right Now (which is available right now on Netflix) is a continuation of the comedian’s comeback. In January of 2018, the now-defunct Babe.net published an article in which an anonymous woman accused the comedian of sexual misconduct. After responding to the allegations, Ansari took a step back from the limelight, returning earlier this year with Road To Nowhere, a new standup tour that hit 75 cities across the U.S. Ansari addresses the allegations against him, which emerged in the midst of the #MeToo movement, early on in his new special, noting that it wasn’t the “most hilarious way to begin a comedy show”:
You know, I haven’t said much about that whole thing, but I’ve talked about it on this tour, ‘cause you’re here and it means a lot to me. I’m sure there are some of you that are curious how I feel about that whole situation. There’s times I felt scared, there’s times I felt humiliated, there’s times I felt embarrassed, and ultimately I just felt terrible that this person felt this way. After a year or so, I just hope it was a step forward. It moved things forward for me, made me think about a lot. I hope I’ve become a better person.
He went on to say that the “whole thing made me think about every date I’ve ever been on,” which in turn made him realize, “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.”