Q & Andy: Aziz Ansari

We know ‘Ziz has got jokes, and jobs—the stand-up from South Carolina who played aspiring impresario Tom Haverford on Parks and Recreation, lends his voice to Darryl on Bob’s Burgers, often pops up in the Apatow universe of comedies, and even co-wrote an insightful book about looking for love in the digital era, Modern Romance (Penguin). His newest gig is that of creator, showrunner, and star of the Netflix series Master of None, about a thirtysomething actor trying to make it in New York. It’s a lot to manage. But as Ansari tells Andy, he’s gotten some good advice along the way.

ANDY WARHOL: What did you eat for breakfast? 

AZIZ ANSARI: A zucchini frittata and a cappuccino. It was a pretty stellar breakfast.

WARHOL: What was your first job?

ANSARI: Working as a dishwasher in one of those Japanese steakhouses where they cook on your table. It was called Yamato (in Japanese, yamato means “Benihana rip-off”). Though I was relegated to dishwashing, I did occasionally toss sponges behind my back for no reason.

WARHOL: Who was the nicest person you worked for?

ANSARI: Mike Schur from Parks and Rec. Once, early on, when NBC did something like cut our episode order in half, Mike kept his head up and calmly told us, “Hey, let’s not get mad about things we can’t control. Let’s just make a great show and everything else will hopefully fall into place.” It is maybe the smartest thing I’ve heard anyone in the TV/film business/life in general say.

WARHOL: What’s your favorite movie? 

ANSARI: The Apartment. Back to the Future. The Heartbreak Kid (Elaine May version).

WARHOL: When do you get nervous?

ANSARI: When I arrive at a party before my friends and I have to wander around and look like I know what I’m doing, but I’m really aimlessly wandering.

WARHOL: What do you like in a girl?

ANSARI: A quickness to laugh, positive energy, and a love of good food and drinks. Or just anyone that I can sit around with and watch hours of critically acclaimed drama and have the most fun ever.

WARHOL: Do you think that it is vanity to worry so much about what you look like?

ANSARI: There’s definitely a zone where it reaches vanity, but the desire to present yourself well doesn’t make you a jerk.

WARHOL: What are you reading right now?

ANSARI: In between heavy doses of nonsense on the Internet, I’ve been reading Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

WARHOL: Do you feel frustrated with the way things are now between men and women?

ANSARI: Sure. There are plenty of dummies who are ignorant of the myriad issues facing women. But a lot of the issues women have to deal with are coming into the light, and men—the good ones—are trying to be mindful of them. Things are headed in a better direction, but it’s still very slow. If you’re a dude, ask women about their experiences and be quiet and listen to their stories. It’s mind-blowing.

WARHOL: Do you have a dream role?

ANSARI: Any role where as soon as I get cast, a bunch of idiots will yell, “NOOOOOO! A WHITE GUY HAS TO PLAY THAT PART!!”