Aziz Ansari doesn’t mind people who are racist, as long as they are also really into Star Wars.
Ansari recounted being called a “Jawa,” a brown-colored, hooded creature from the Star Wars saga, by someone on the Internet.
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“I’ve had people say racist things to me my whole life. I never heard anyone say ‘Jawa’; I had to look it up,” Ansari said. “I love, love, love the idea of a guy being really racist and really into Star Wars.”
Ansari, an Indian-American actor and comedian best known for his role as Tom Haverford on the NBC comedy “Parks and Recreation,” performed for more than 1,000 audience members in Woolsey Hall during Saturday night’s Winter Show. Ansari bantered about a stream of topics including conversations with women at bars, text messages and perceptions of the strange characters he encounters while touring. Students Ethan Kuperberg ’11, Michael Gabriel ’12 and Eric DePalo ’11 opened the performance with comedy routines based on Yale. The show, organized by the Yale College Council, was originally scheduled for the fall semester but delayed in order to secure a headliner.
YCC President Jon Wu ’11 said the exact total of ticket sales is not yet available, but 1,074 were sold in advance, netting $7,158.
Ansari broke midway through his performance for a question-and-answer session with students, fielding questions from “How did you get interested in comedy?” to “What is the meaning of life?”
“That’s a really funny question,” Ansari responded. “Next question.”
Jon Wu ’11 said the Intercultural Affairs Council agreed to contribute $1,500 to the event provided Ansari answered student questions. While most questions did not deal directly with intercultural issues, one student asked Ansari for his views on racist jokes.
“I don’t put much thought into it.” Ansari said. “I didn’t think, ‘Well my skin tone is brown, so how will I address the situation?’ I just do the jokes.”
When discussing his attempts to talk to women, he said he resented that his compliments were never taken at face value but thought of instead as come-ons. He once complimented a woman in a bar on her bag, and when she did not believe that he actually liked the bag, he said, he stole it to prove his point.
He told several anecdotes of people he encountered in life being unnecessarily rude, including European customs officials, airplane passengers and potential dates.
“There’s no reason to be rude to me,” Ansari said “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
All 10 of the students interviewed said they enjoyed the performance and were not offended by the racial and sexual nature of some of Ansari’s quips.
Alexis Cruzzavala ’13 said she thought Ansari had “great comedic timing,” hitting the punch lines at just the right moment.
Six of the students said they thought the question-and-answer section was “awkward.” Ansari said during the performance he had never done a Q & A with his audience members but it did not make him uncomfortable.
During the Q & A, Ansari said he became interested in comedy while an undergraduate at New York University and perfected his stand-up routines by performing in clubs.
Born in 1983 in South Carolina, Ansari is a now based in Los Angeles. His creative work includes writing and acting for the MTV sketch show “Human Giant.”