Lately it seems impossible to go anywhere without seeing Aziz Ansari’s face. He plays Tom Haverford, everyone’s favorite well-dressed government worker-slash-club promoter on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, and now he’s landed his first major feature film role starring in 30 Minutes or Less alongside Oscar-nominated Jesse Eisenberg.
It’s Ansari’s scene-stealing Tom Haverford that has gained him a lot of well deserved attention. GQ named Haverford the 3rd most stylish man on television, and his character has been the inspiration for hilarious blogs like Tom Haverfoods and my personal favorite, Dogs that Look Like Tom Haverford, which is clearly superior to Cats that Look Like Ron Swanson.
Ansari, who originally started doing stand-up when he was an undergraduate at NYU Stern School of Business, has found his true calling. Whether he’s robbing a bank with Eisenberg or randomly showing up in Jay Z and Kanye’s Otis video, everything Ansari does is entertaining.
His role in 30 Minutes or Less has shown that Ansari has serious comedy chops. Ansari stars opposite Jesse Eisenberg and is tasked with helping his friend rob a bank. Unfortunately, the movie itself left a lot to be desired plot-wise, but Ansari did what he does best: deliver extremely hilarious and quotable one liners.
Aziz’s star power is directly tied to the fact that his comedy isn’t centered on the color of his skin. As a son of Indian immigrants, Ansari definitely faced hardship growing up in a homogeneous town in South Carolina, but it never becomes a crutch in his stand-up routines. Ansari addressed the issue of race in an interview with NPR:
“I’m very happy when I’m able to take roles from white actors. If a part is written for a white guy and then I get cast, I’m very proud of myself. It’s like a victory for all minorities.”
In a more hilarious way, Ansari addressed Hollywood’s perceptions of race when it came to the success of Slumdog Millionaire in an interview with The Guardian:
“I was doing an interview once and the guy said, ‘You must be psyched by all this stuff.’ And I was like, ‘Umm… Yeah! I am!’ I have no idea why, though, as I had NOTHING to do with that movie! It’s just that some people who kinda look like me are in it, and everyone loved it and it won some Oscars and stuff. And then I was like, whoa whoa whoa – are white people just psyched ALL THE TIME? It’s like, Back to the Future – that’s us! Godfather – that’s us! Jaws – that’s us! Every fucking movie BUT Slumdog Millionaire and Boyz n the Hood is us!
That whole thing about people thinking I’d be excited about Slumdog Millionaire – well, I don’t think it’s a racist thing, but I do think it’s interesting. It’s like when Indian people come to my show and they’re like, oh, he’s Indian! Let’s check out his comedy! That’s weird to me, I don’t do that.”
Ansari has proved that he has staying power in Hollywood because his comedy reaches people regardless of race. I can’t wait to see what Tumblrs are created because of this upcoming season of Parks and Recreation. Aziz Ansari is a comedy icon. Not only is he funny, but he has a kickass way of dealing with people who heckle him during his stand-up.Tags: 30 minutes or less, aziz ansari, comedy, GQ, Jay-Z, Jesse Eisenberg, Kanye West, Otis, Parks and Recreation, Ron Swanson, slumdog millionaire, stand up, Tom Haverford