Aziz Ansari is doing standup again post-allegations
Aziz Ansari has mostly stayed out of the public eye following the sexual misconduct allegations that were lobbied against him back in January, but he's been dipping his toe back into standup, recently. Like he's done in the past, he performed surprise, drop-in sets at NYC's Comedy Cellar this past week. Comedy Cellar hosts many shows every night, across multiple rooms including inside the Village Underground, and it's unclear exactly how many sets Aziz did, but he seems to have at least performed on Wednesday night (5/9), Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, possibly multiple times a day. Subjects he's been covering in his set include millenials, Starbucks and racism. One attendee says she got roasted by Aziz, so it seems like he did some crowd work as well -- were you there?
One of the shows he played was Comedy Cellar's weekly Sunday brunch MC'd by Cipha Sounds. Other comedians that were billed on the Mother's Day show were Gary Vider, Matthew Broussard, Emmy Blotnick, Chris Gethard, and Sean Patton. Tracy Morgan, as you can see in a photo below, showed up and performed at one or more of the shows as well.
Jim Norton was also a surprise performer at the Wednesday night show.
Unlike Louis CK who played the Cellar regularly for years (and featured it in his TV show), Aziz -- like Chris Gethard who also played there on Sunday -- really got his start at more "indie comedy" friendly places like UCB, and Union Hall and the Bell House. He's no stranger to Comedy Cellar though, and the club is famous for surprise celebrity sets and bigger (even indie) comedians working out material. It makes sense that Aziz would choose this route to test the waters. Not only are the tourist-heavy crowds not expecting him and possibly more forgiving, but the atmosphere is one where the idea that comedy should be "politically correct" is generally frowned upon. Indie comedy shows (mostly in Brooklyn) may be more hesitant to so quickly associate with Aziz again. As the NY Times printed recently in a feature on Butterboy (every Monday at Littlefield) producer Marrianne Ways:
There is not only an art to putting together a lineup, but also a politics, especially now, when issues of representation (Ms. Ways always books at least two female comics) and sexual misconduct have roiled the comedy world. Should Louis C.K. and Aziz Ansari return to live stand-up, the first people confronted with a difficult choice will be bookers. Ms. Ways said she would check with her hosts, but probably wouldn’t book Louis C.K., but likely would Mr. Ansari. Then she paused. “I don’t know,” she said. “I have very mixed feelings on his situation.”
Meanwhile, the Aziz controversy inspired a plot line in the most recent episode of The Good Fight, the Good Wife spinoff that's on CBS All-Access. From Entertainment Weekly:
Liz and Maia are defending Ron, a famous sports photographer who went on a date with Emily, a young associate producer. On the date, Ron was very pushy and aggressively tried to sleep with Emily, who didn’t want to engage in sexual activity and kept trying to slow things down. Ron was oblivious to her discomfort. Eventually, she just decided to “get it over with it,” and Ron performed oral sex on her. Later on, she decided to share her story, which ended up on A—holes to Avoid, a website meant to warn women away from dangerous men. Ron lost his job because of the site and has had trouble finding a new one because it. Now he’s suing her. He wants the story taken down and an apology, especially because he believes he didn’t force himself on her. The problem the firm runs into with this case is that while Ron and Emily agree on the sequence of events on the date, they disagree on the interpretation of those events.
More photographic proof of Aziz's recent resurfacing below: