The South Carolina born Indian American Aziz Ansari is probably best known for his work alongside Paul Scheer and Rob Huebel in the outrageously funny and critically acclaimed US sketch show Human Giant. The trio have been working together for four years, “We all met around the summer of 2005 through performing together at the ‘Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre’ in NY.” The show has been a massive hit in the US thanks to a two series run on MTV and many sketches have traveled virally through the net. Although Aziz is proud of this he feels that there are still more people home and abroad who he’d like to win over, “I felt pretty confident about the show. I still feel there are a lot people who love the sketches and yet still haven’t fully discovered the rest of it, but that’s how it is with a lot of comedy shows.”
On the subject of filming the show Aziz continued: “We improvise quite a bit, but we always go in with a strong script that we believe in. There’s not too much corpsing. I’m probably the worst of the three. Huebel is the best, he never breaks. The most breaking happened when we shot the first Shutterbugs episode with Bobb’e J. Thompson. He really made us break quite a bit.”
Human Giant is probably most famous for some of its running sketches such as ‘Shutterbugs’ (a child actor’s agency), ‘Let’s Go’ (travel show spoof) and ‘The Illusionators’. “Shutterbugs was a bit Rob and I did on stage the first time we ever performed together. We just really loved making fun of child headshots and cursing at young children.
‘Let’s Go’ was an idea from Jon Glaser, a hilarious writer. He saw a silly travel show on TV and that inspired ‘Let’s Go’.
‘Illusionators’ was inspired by a magician named Criss Angel, who clearly has not broken out in the UK yet.”
The third series of Human Giant is currently on hold while Aziz juggles a role in a new NBC spin off of the US version of ‘The Office’. As well as touring and starring in several films including new Judd Apatow film ‘Funny People’. A role which the diminutive stand up elaborated further on: “I play a very cocky, obnoxious, sex obsessed comic named Randy. The role really kind of developed as I did my scenes, because we improvised stuff that kind of let us figure out who the character was. I was interested in the role because I obviously really wanted to work with Judd and co. I’d just finished another small role with Seth (Rogen) in this movie ‘Observe and Report’ and we had a lot of fun working together, so I was excited to work with him again too.”
Aziz earned himself The Rolling Stone Magazine’s ‘Hot Stand Up Title’ as well as winning the ‘Best Stand Up Award’ at the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. When speaking about audiences, Aziz was quick to recount one of his favourite pieces of crowd intervention and heckling. “The best thing I’ve heard was at a show I did with my friend Zach Galifianakis, he started saying something like ‘There was a hurricane in Florida recently..’ and someone in the audience shouted, “EASY...” because he was from Florida. I just love the advance notice he gave that if Zach said the wrong thing, sh*t would be on!”
Aziz first came to the attention of UK audiences when he starred in an episode of Flight of the Conchords (FOC). “I knew them from doing standup shows with them both and we were friends. They had the racist fruit vendor part and it worked out well. It was a really fun show to do.“When asked if it was difficult to play such a controversial character he provided the comedy reply. “I was racist for like three weeks to really get into the mindset and occasionally slip back in to racist mode by mistake, but that’s what actors must do. It is our craft.”
When asked if there was one thing about him that no one knows? Aziz responded “I’m actually a Caucasian who does the Fisher Stevens-Short Circuit 2 makeup technique every morning."
When we finished laughing we pressed him more on the subject of the new ‘Office’ spin off. “I can’t say much at this point, but basically it will be a documentary style show similar to “The Office” but set in a separate world. It will be run by two of the executive producers from ‘The Office’ (US), Greg Daniels and Mike Schur. The cast so far is myself Amy Poehler and Rashida Jones. Rashida will play a nurse named Ann whose boyfriend has a strange injury that leads her to the world inhabited by myself and Amy. I can say what’s its not (about). It’s not about us working at a Sainsburys. Mainly, because we don’t have Sainsburys in the US and that would probably confuse American audiences.”
When discussing press and reviews he’s received online Aziz recounted the following ridiculous posting. ”Someone in a comments thread in a blog post about a standup show I did said ‘I sucked d*ck on stage.’ I think I’d remember putting a penis in my mouth during my standup set, and I frankly do not remember this happening.”
Finally no interview would be complete without forcing its subject to begrudgingly disclose their favourite things about the UK, and I am pleased to report that this one is no different so at gun point Aziz replied: “My favourite things about the UK are pound coins, chicken Sharma at ‘Ranoush Juice’ (restaurant in Edgeware Road), and produce from Marks and Spencer.
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