It’s been just over a year since Aziz Ansari faced sexual misconduct allegations stemming from a story published in babe about a woman identified as Grace and her encounter with the comedian. While the Master of None comedian issued a statement acknowledging his misinterpretations of the circumstances, he’d yet to speak on the situation in public. That changed last night during a standup set in New York City.
The gig at Village Underground (the sister club of the Comedy Cellar, where Louis C.K. has made his numerous, poorly received comeback attempts) was part of Ansari’s recent run of pop-up shows as he tested out material ahead of his upcoming “Road to Nowhere” tour. Some 18,000 people tried to get a ticket to the gig, but only about 200 made it into the venue. As Vulture reports, the set began with some of Ansari’s latest material before he started talking about being back in New York.
He mentioned being mistaken for fellow Netflix personality Hasan Minhaj by a fan on the street. Joking about what happened after the guy realized his mistake, Ansari said, “‘Oh, no, Aziz, right?’ Yeah, yeah, that’s me. ‘Master of None!’ Yeah, yeah, that’s me. ‘Parks and Rec!’ Yeah, yeah, that’s me. ‘Treat yourself!’ Yeah, yeah, that’s me. ‘And you had the whole thing come out last year — sexual misconduct?’ No, no, no, no, no, no, that’s Hasan!”
That’s when things took a more direct and serious tone. Ansari apparently took a seat and addressed that “whole thing,” saying he had wanted to take his time to properly process circumstances that were “terrifying… to talk about.” The comedian said he had felt upset, humiliated, and embarrassed, but “ultimately I just felt terrible this person felt this way.” He continued with what Vulture described as a “wavering” voice, “But you know, after a year, how I feel about it is, I hope it was a step forward. It made me think about a lot, and I hope I’ve become a better person.”
He recounted a conversation with a friend who said witnessing Ansari’s situation made him question every date he’d ever been on. For Ansari, that was a positive: “If that has made not just me but other guys think about this, and just be more thoughtful and aware and willing to go that extra mile, and make sure someone else is comfortable in that moment, that’s a good thing.”
As he concluded, Ansari remarked on how dealing with such a controversy made him more grateful for his career. “And I think it also just gave me perspective on my life. There was a moment where I was scared that I’d never be able to do this again,” he said. He went on to talk about how he used to say, “Thanks so much!” at the end of a show because it was expected, not because he really meant it. “But now, I really mean it. I mean it on a different level,” he added. “You canceled whatever you were supposed to do tonight, and you came out in the cold, and you waited in line, and you put your phone in a stupid [Yondr] pouch. You did all this shit just to hear me talk for an hour and some change, and it means the world to me, so thank you so much.”
Ansar will next visit Calgary, Alberta on Valentine’s Day. We’ll see if he continues talking about the allegations as he heads out on the 25-date tour.