LA People 2009: The Lovable Douche Bag Parks and Recreation's Aziz Ansari
Aziz Ansari might just become really famous this summer — for being a dick. The 26-year-old actor and standup comic has roles in two of this year’s most anticipated comedies, NBC’s brand-new Parks and Recreation and the third Judd Apatow film, Funny People. Ansari is far from the marquee name in each, with the former starring Amy Poehler and the latter a pairing of Adam Sandler and Seth Rogan, but his character in each will surely leave a mark. And probably not in the most redeeming way.
In Parks & Recreation, filmed in the style of The Office, Ansari plays Tom Haverford, Poehler’s “right-hand man” in the parks department. Haverford, Ansari says one morning before his call-time starts, “thinks he’s a really cool guy but is really kind of a douche bag. He’s constantly hitting on Rashida [Jones’] character, but he’s also married.”
While he won’t say it, his character in Funny People is probably modeled on Dane Cook. “Randy’s basically this terrible comedian audiences love. He tells these really dirty jokes that are really stupid, but he wins the audience over by dancing around and having a DJ.”
Naturally, Ansari himself couldn’t be any further from Randy or Tom. Completely unassuming, he’s easily mistaken for the quiet kid in the corner, even when he’s telling a particularly hilarious story. There’s a sensical calm about him that makes little sense with the many personalities that emerge in front of the camera. He shrugs off the idea of being a “breakout comedian” quite genuinely, focusing rather on the “marathon” and quality of the work.
After graduating from the Upright Citizens Brigade improv troupe in NYC, Ansari first found fame with MTV’s cultish sketch show Human Giant, alongside Paul Scheer and Rob Huebel. In 2008, he took his standup act on the road with his very own “Glow in the Dark Tour.”
Despite ripping off Kanye West’s tour title and poster, the protective musician didn’t send his lawyers after the young comic, but instead, requested tickets and made multiple postings about the show on his popular blog. And as witnessed in a few TMZ videos, Ansari can occasionally be found in Kanye’s entourage.
“He’s always like, ‘Yo, man, you got so many jokes’, and we’ll be out somewhere that’s not on a stage or something, so it’s kind of weird [when he’ll ask me to do standup]. And I’m like, ‘Hey man, I’ll do a few minutes, but you have to do ‘Heartless’ ... without Auto-Tune or any instruments.’”
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.