Aziz Ansari has taken to the comedy stage to address the sexual misconduct claim made against him a little over a year ago.
According to Vulture, the comedian had a pop up show in New York City on Monday night at the Village Underground. Ansari advertised the set himself in an Instagram selfie and described the “pop up” as a “small, last-minute, intimate show.” Despite the 18,000 people supposedly vying to get tickets, Ansari performed in front of just 200 of them.
The Master of None writer eased into the topic of the allegation and reportedly told the audience that he hadn’t spoke about it earlier because needed to digest the claim made against him and map out how he wanted to talk about “the whole thing.”
He told the crowd, “It’s a terrifying thing to talk about.”
The 35-year-old added, “There were times I felt really upset and humiliated and embarrassed, and ultimately I just felt terrible this person felt this way.”
Ansari went on to describe how he turned the entire situation into a learning and growing experience.
“I hope it was a step forward,” he reportedly said. “It made me think about a lot, and I hope I’ve become a better person.”
Ansari explained that the allegation changed his outlook on dating and “perspective on life” too. “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,” he declared.
The Parks and Recreation star feared for his comedy career and “was scared that I’d never be able to do this again.”
It seems his worst fears weren’t realized because the comedian is slated to have a number of shows both internationally and domestically over the next few months.
Fellow comedian Louis C.K., who was also accused of misconduct which he later admitted to, had a bit of a different approach in his return to the stand-up stage. In August, C.K. made a surprise appearance at the Comedy Cellar in New York City and received a standing ovation when he started. Four months later in December, he sparked some major backlash when he appeared to mock students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
He said the “younger generation” was “f–king boring” and criticized them for not “f–king each other and doing Jell-O shots.”
“They testified in front of Congress, these kids. Like, what the f–k? What are you doing? You’re young. You should be crazy. You should be unhinged—not in a suit saying, ‘I’m here to tell…’ F–k you. You’re not interesting ’cause you went to a high school where kids got shot,” he reportedly quipped. “Why does that mean I have to listen to you? How does that make you interesting? You didn’t get shot!” the comedian said. “You pushed some fat kid in the way—and now I got to listen to you talking?!”
The claim against Ansari surfaced on Jan. 13, 2018 in an article on Babe.net headlined “I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my life.” In it, the accuser named Grace (her real name was protected for privacy reasons) says she and Ansari went on a date and alleged that their sexual encounter wasn’t fully consensual. She told the online publication, “I believe that I was taken advantage of by Aziz. I was not listened to and ignored. It was by far the worst experience with a man I’ve ever had.”
One day after the article came out and went viral, Ansari released a statement of his own. “In September of last year, I met a woman at a party. We exchanged numbers. We texted back and forth and eventually went on a date. We went out to dinner, and afterwards we ended up engaging in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual,” he said.
He added, “The next day, I got a text from her saying that although it may have seemed okay, upon further reflection, she felt uncomfortable. It was true that everything did seem okay to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned. I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said. I continue to support the movement that is happening in our culture. It is necessary and long overdue.”