Aziz Ansari Talks Sexual Misconduct Allegation in New Standup Special: I 'Felt Like I Died'
Aziz Ansari returned to the spotlight after nearly a year of keeping a low profile
Taking the stage in his new Netflix special, Aziz Ansari: Right Now, the 35-year-old opened by discussing the allegations, admitting he’s still coming to terms with how he feels about the situation.
“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,” he said. “And I’m sure that some of you are curious how I feel about that whole situation. It’s a tricky thing for me to answer, cause I’ve so many things in the last year or so. There are times I felt scared. There are times I’ve felt humiliated. There are times I’ve embarrassed. And ultimately, I just felt terrible that this person felt this way.”
The comedian said he’s spent the last year working to “become a better person” and appreciating the impact the allegation had not only on himself but also those around him.
Ansari recalled a conversation in which a friend told him the story made him rethink every date he’s been on.
“And after a year or so, I just hope it was a step forward. It moved things forward for me and made me think about a lot. I hope I’ve become a better person,” he said. “And I always think about a conversation I had with one of my friends where he was like, ‘You know what, man? That whole thing made me think about every date I’ve ever been on.’ And I thought, ‘Wow, that’s pretty incredible.’ It’s made not just me, but other people be more thoughtful, and that’s. a good thing. And that’s how I feel about it.”
Last January, an anonymous woman who went on a date with Ansari accused him of sexual behavior that she classified as assault but he called consensual in a controversial article published on Babe.net. The piece sparked a public conversation regarding the nuances of the #MeToo movement.
At the end of his show, Ansari admitted that he feared he would never return to the stage following the allegation. After taking a moment of silence to show the crowd his appreciation, he said he’s gained a new outlook on life.
“I saw the world where I don’t ever get to do this again. And it almost felt like I died. In a way, I did,” he said. “That old Aziz who said ‘Oh, treat yo’ self,” whatever, he’s dead. But I’m glad, cause that guy was always looking forward at whatever was next.”
“I realized it’s all ephemeral,” he concluded. “All that stuff can just go away like this [snap] and all we really have is the moment we’re in with the people we’re with.”
Ansari’s accuser, a 23-year-old Brooklyn photographer, recounted her allegations under the pseudonym “Grace.” She alleged that after meeting Ansari at an Emmy Awards afterparty in September 2017, they exchanged numbers and eventually went on a date, which she called “the worst of my life.” After a meal, she said they returned to his apartment, where she alleged that Ansari behaved coercively and that several sexual acts occurred though she was “physically giving off cues that [she] wasn’t interested.”
In response, Ansari issued a statement acknowledging they went on a date and ended up engaging in sexual activity which he said “by all indications was completely consensual.”
“The next day, I got a text from her saying that although ‘it may have seemed okay,’ upon further reflection, she felt uncomfortable,” he continued. “It was true that everything did seem okay to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned. I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said.”
“I continue to support the movement that is happening in our culture,” he added. “It is necessary and long overdue.”
Aziz Ansari: Right Now is streaming now on Netflix.