Thursday, July 11, 2019

In new Netflix special, Aziz Ansari says, "It almost felt like I died" after sexual misconduct allegations

Several jokes told during Charleston shows wind up new special

Posted by Sam Spence on Thu, Jul 11, 2019 at 3:41 PM

click to enlarge Ansari visited Charleston during his "New Material" trial tour in September - NETFLIX
  • Netflix
  • Ansari visited Charleston during his "New Material" trial tour in September
Eighteen months after S.C.-native Aziz Ansari was accused of sexual misconduct, the actor and comedian is publicly reflecting on how the allegations affected him personally in a new Netflix special entitled Right Now, but does not directly address the situation described in an anonymous account last year.

In January 2018, the website published a story entitled, "I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my life." The story, which details a date between Ansari and an anonymous woman called Grace, was widely read as allegations piled up against powerful men during the growth of the Me Too movement.

When Ansari, who grew up in Bennettsville, visited Charleston as part of a series of surprise shows entitled Working Out New Material, he did not mention the story. Several jokes that Ansari told during his Charleston shows about fake internet hysteria did make it into the special. Some segments even riff on how much bad sex stuff someone would have to do to be canceled, with Ansari polling members of the audience and poking fun at their real-time deliberations and contradictions.
As part of the new Netflix show, Ansari addressed the allegations right at the top, but the discussion of the ramifications is limited mostly to how it affected him, making mention of his accuser ("this person") just once.

"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. And after a year or so, I just hope it was a step forward. It moved things forward for me, it made me think about a lot. I hope I've become a better person."

The show appears to have been taped earlier this year in Brooklyn.

If it's any indication how Ansari's celebrity has weathered the allegations, the story is only mentioned on the Me Too movement Wikipedia page in a section titled "Overcorrection."

Toward the end of the special, Ansari slips back into a quiet tone, describing how he worried that he would never work again.

"I saw the world where I don't ever get to do this again," he said.

Piling on the saccharine in an attempt to universalize his walk to the brink, Ansari urges the audience to savor life's moments on the off chance that they, too, become an influential, Emmy-winning actor who experiences fallout after they are accused of wrongdoing.

"It almost felt like I died. And in a way, I did."

The hour-long special, very clearly directed by Spike Jonez from its in-your-face, low-fi style (and the Velvet Underground intro/outro) debuted on Netflix on July 8. Ansari also created and starred in Master of None on Netflix after rising to fame on Parks and Recreation.

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