20 Questions: Aziz Ansari

Photo credit: Steven Dewall (partial)

Named Entertainment Weekly’s top 12 future stars of comedy, Aziz Ansari has a voracious appetite for performing, eating, and… just about anything else that is subject to an appetite.

You’ve seen him in Parks & Recreation (as sleezeball Tom Haverford), you’ve seen him in Funny People, I Love You, Man and Observe and Report, and you’ll soon see him in Get Him to the Greek. You’ll probably see him just about everywhere you turn, these days. Indeed, you can’t get away from Aziz Ansari even if you try. Named Entertainment Weekly’s top 12 future stars of comedy and Rolling Stone’s Hot Standup on their Hot List, Ansari recently completed his “Glow in the Dark” Comedy Standup Tour, which concluded in early 2009 with the recording of his first album and special for Comedy Central, Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening (January '10).

Indeed, Ansari has a voracious appetite for performing, eating, and… just about anything else that is subject to an appetite. He found you here, on PopMatters 20 Questions, where he will have another bite, thank you very much.

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

Up came pretty close. The silent montage of the relationship in the beginning was maybe the most amazing, beautiful thing I've ever seen in any movie. I was also surprised to find out that the kid was Asian. I didn't notice that at all! Pixar should make their 3-D depiction of Asians more racist looking so it’s easier to tell.

2. The fictional character most like you?

Wow. This is tough. I'll say Dr. Grant from Jurassic Park. I like to think I'm pretty level-headed and if kids were trapped in a Ford Explorer getting attacked by a dinosaur I would make an effort to save them, as opposed to go hiding in the toilet like that weasely lawyer.

3. The greatest album, ever?

Nelly's concept album, Sweatsuit. Disc 1, the Sweat Disc, features uptempto party jams and Disc 2, the Suit Disc, is more serious hip hop to listen to when you are in a formal setting. It’s either that or the Beatles' White Album. Actually, yeah, it’s probably the White Album.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

Star Wars. I have to admit when I see the "Star Wars version" of things I do get a little excited. You know what I'm talking about? Like the Call of Duty mods that let you play the game as StormTroopers? That would have been dope on Goldeneye for Nintendo 64. Speaking of which, why isn't Goldeneye on Xbox Live? Rare and Microsoft need to figure that out or someone needs to make a bootleg version somehow. Wait, what's that sound? Oh, it’s the sound of any girl that was interested in sleeping with me changing her mind.

5. Your ideal brain food?

I feel like apples are a good brain food and strawberry yogurt. I eat that on set a lot and it seems good for you. That's based on nothing, though.

Can I just recommend some taco places in LA, instead? I don't know brain food, but I do know tacos. There’s a taco truck in Echo Park in LA called Taco Zone and they have a great off menu special called the mulita. Get the carne suadero mulita. So good.

Also, go to the Alibi Room in Culver City and get some Kogi. The Kogi taco trucks have crazy lines, but the Kogi at the Alibi room is the same thing, arguably better because it has an expanded menu. Get the short rib sliders and a spicy pork kimchi quesadilla (not on the menu). Also Best Fish Taco in Ensenada on Hillhurst is dope. Get two fish and one shrimp. And the carne asada taco at Yuca's on Hillhurst is great, too.

6. You're proud of this accomplishment, but why?

I once went on a taco tour with a friend who was visiting me and hit up all those taco places I mentioned above in one day.

7. You want to be remembered for...?

The accomplishments of a more respected, similarly looking bearded Indian man.

8. Of those who've come before, the most inspirational are?

I take a lot of inspiration from the people that are doing my favorite work now.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

The Thai food at Jitlada.

10. Your hidden talents...?

Foosball, ping pong, guitar playing, and I'm also great at splitting checks with a large party at a restaurant.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

"You should try the carne suadero mulita."

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

The best thing I stole is three Chick-fil-a chicken nuggets that I snatched from a sample tray at a mall food court in Florence, South Caroloina after already having my one alotted sample. "Yeah, these are for my brother, my dad, and my mom." That idiot, I ate all of them!

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or...?

Osh Kosh B'Gosh for Men (it’s a hard to fine clothing line, but it’s out there).

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

The Dalai Lama, but only if he's up for splitting a few things, so we can get a good taste of the whole menu in one sitting. Otherwise, my friend Alan or my friend Jason, they are usually down to split stuff.

15. Time travel: where, when and why?

I would go to right before Marty was about to go into the store where he saw the Sports Almanac and prevent him from ever seeing it or getting that idea, thus preventing them from having to deal with the Biff centric alternate timeline altogether. (That’s a reference to Back to the Future, for those not in the know.)

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?


17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or...?


18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

City. Montreal.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

"Cream on the inside, clean on the outside! Cream on the inside, clean on the outside! Ice- ice- i- -ice cream paint job!" (That’s a reference to “Ice Cream Paint Job” by Dorrough, for those not in the know.)

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

Parks and Recreation Season 2, my standup special/CD/DVD Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening which should be out in a few months (probably January '10), other things that aren't fully figured out yet, and getting chubbier because I eat too much delicious food.





A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.


Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.


PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.


'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.


Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.


Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.


Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.


The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.


Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.


Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.


Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.


'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.


Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.


Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.


Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.


The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.