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.

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