Aziz is Bored, But Not Boring
His hip-hop loving alter-ego has spawned a dog lookalike tumblr and at least one food blog. But Aziz Ansari, the man behind Tom Haverford on NBC’s Parks and Rec, has enough fans in his own right that even the president competes with him.
So, Obama recently bragged at a fundraiser that he’s got more Twitter followers than you. What was it like to get a shout-out from the president?
It was crazy. I still don’t think I’ve processed how crazy it was that I got to meet him. He was just very cool and relaxed and charming.
And are you guys still competing? For Twitter followers?
I think he’s got a little bit of an unfair advantage because he’s the president of the United States.
You recently released a standup special, Dangerously Delicious, exclusively online. How’d that come about?
I was deciding to record the special last year, and looking at how many views I had on Youtube versus how many DVDs I’d sold. And it was just very clear that people were listening to my stuff online. And then I was with Louis CK when he was editing his online special last year, and I was curious to see if that’d work — if he’d have the same reach without the traditional marketing behind it. But he put it out, and people really got behind it. And I just thought, since I was planning on releasing it online anyway, let’s just do it, and see how it goes. And people seem to be really into it.
Have you always used social media to get your work out?
I just found both [Tumblr and Twitter] to be interesting ways to share funny things that may not necessarily work in my standup or TV work. And with websites like YouTube or Funny or Die, you can make content and anybody can watch it anytime, instead of hoping someone can catch it on TV. So that definitely helps with access.
I was listening to you on NPR recently. What’s it like to have Terry Gross ask you about your “dateability”?
Those interviews are so fun, because it’s just like a long conversation. It’s NPR, so it’s funny, that juxtaposition of someone like me, this kind of goofball who does comedy about kind of vulgar things, talking on this very serious program. But it really works.
Are you anything like Tom Haverford in real life?
We’re both into nice suits and hip-hop and after that the similarities kinda end.
What about R. Kelly? You often come back to him in your standup. What do you love about him so much?
I talk about going to his concert, and it became one of the bits that got passed around. So then when I was doing the Dangerously Delicious tour, people would always shout out and ask for like an update about R Kelly, so I wrote a bit about what he’s been up to.
And what has he been up to?
I just talk about how he put out this video. He talks about how he put out this song called “Echo,” and a lot of people didn’t know what an echo was. So he made a video like defining the word echo. And then the way he defined it was just so weird that I just talk about what it would be like if there was like a whole R Kelly online video dictionary.
We’re building a video studio in the Tumblr closet, because it’s the only space we have. We’re going to make a series called “Trapped in the Tumblr closet.” Will you come perform R Kelly in the Tumblr closet?
We’ll have to see about that.
(Photo by Ruvan Wijesooriya)
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