Right Now doesn’t serve as the first time the 36-year-old comedian has addressed the January 2018 babe.net story about a young woman’s date with him. In fact, Ansari spent his recent “Road to Nowhere” tour doing so in nearly identical fashion — except for a notable adjustment.
Back in February, EW was in the audience for Ansari’s first stop in Los Angeles when he waited until late in his hour-long set to vaguely address claims by a woman who said she felt pressured to engage in sexual activity with him. While never getting into specifics, Ansari started with a humorous story of someone confusing him for Hasan Minhaj before somberly admitting how “humiliated” he was by what had happened and how bad he felt for the woman. For Right Now, Ansari stuck to the script, with only the noticeable change of opening the Spike Jonze-directed special with the bit.
After scoring cheers with the joke about the Minhaj confusion, Ansari transitioned to a more serious tone:
“You know, I haven’t said much about that whole thing, but I’ve talked about it on this tour, ‘cause you’re here and it means a lot to me. And I’m sure that some of you are curious how I feel about that whole situation. And, uh, it’s a tricky thing for me to answer, ‘cause I’ve felt so many things in the last year or so. There’s times I’ve felt scared. There’s times I’ve felt humiliated. There’s times I’ve felt embarrassed. And ultimately, I just felt terrible that this person felt this way. And after a year or so, I just hope it was a step forward. It moved things forward for me and made me think about a lot. I hope I become a better person. And I always think about a conversation I had with one of my friends where he was like, ‘You know what, man? That whole thing made me think about every date I’ve ever been on.’ And I thought, ‘Wow. Well, that’s pretty incredible. It’s made not just me but other people be more thoughtful, and that’s a good thing.’ And that’s how I feel about it. And I know this isn’t the most hilarious way to begin a comedy show. But it’s important to me that you know how I feel about that whole thing before we share this night together. Well, that was pretty intense. What else should we talk about?”
What else Ansari would talk about for the next hour included many things that he now regrets, ranging from fat shaming his younger cousin in past specials, regretting taking part in a specific Parks and Recreation story line (Tom giving Ann a teddy bear nanny cam), and being one of the people who long ignored the troubling signs of R. Kelly‘s alleged behavior.
When it came time to wrap things up, Ansari admitted that his previous sign-offs at shows where he’d thank the crowd for coming out weren’t sincere, but that is different now — the “old Aziz” is “dead.”
“I wasn’t grateful enough,” he told the audience. “I didn’t really think about what it means that all of you came out. But now, when I see you guys here, it hits me in a different way. I think about what it means that all you guys, you drove down here, you waited in line, and you did all of this stuff just to hear me talk into a microphone for like an hour or so. And it means the world to me, ‘cause I saw the world where I don’t ever get to do this again, and it almost felt like I’d died. In a way, I did. That old Aziz who said, ‘Oh, treat yo’ self,’ whatever, he’s dead. But I’m glad, ‘cause that guy was always looking forward to whatever was next: ‘Oh, am I gonna do another tour? Am I gonna do another season of the show?’ I don’t think that way anymore. ‘Cause I’ve realized it’s all ephemeral. All that stuff, it can just go away like this. [Snaps fingers.] And all we really have is the moment we’re in and the people we’re with.”
Aziz Ansari: Right Now is now streaming on Netflix.