Aziz Ansari's Spike Jonze-directed comeback special just dropped on Netflix, and although he does spend time in it addressing his sexual misconduct allegations from last year, Aziz Ansari's jokes about racism in Right Now take aim at the recent groundswell of white anxiety.
From grilling white audience members on what they thought of Crazy Rich Asians ("I'm just messing with you. It doesn't matter what you thought about the movie, it's just fun to make white people feel bad!") to explaining the various ways he gets lumped in and associated with other South Asian celebrities, Ansari expertly skewers the gambit of embarrassing white behavior. And he doesn't shy away from teasing people for their overly performative wokeness, either. He calls out racism and problematic thinking, sure. But he also reveals his sneaking suspicion that, sometimes, white people are just tallying up their "good ally" points to compete with other white people.
"I'll give credit where credit is due," Ansari admits. "I've been around 36 years, I've never seen white people trying this hard to be nice to minorities. I know there's some people that are not trying at all — and some people that are going a bit aggressively in the other direction — but overall, I'd say this edition of white people is trying the hardest. But sometimes...I'm a little suspicious."
Read on to find out what's behind that suspicion.
On Being Mistaken For Hasan Minhaj
I was walking around the other day and this guy came up to me on the street and he was like, "Hey man, love the Netflix show!" I was like, "Oh thanks so much." He was like, "Yeah yeah, I really love the episode you did on Supreme." I was like, "What? I didn't do no episode on Supreme."
And then I quickly realize he's talking about Hasan Minhaj. Patriot Act. Different show, different guy. And he felt horrible, right? And he immediately realized his mistake and he was trying to buy it back. He was like, "Oh no, Aziz, right?" I was like, "Yeah, yeah, that's me."
"Master of None!"
"Yeah, yeah, that's me."
"Parks and Rec!"
"Yeah, yeah, that's me."
"Yeah, yeah, that's me."
"And uh, you had that whole thing last year, sexual misconduct?"
"No no no no no no no. That was Hasan."
On Cultural Appropriation
Remember that traditional Chinese prom dress Twitter controversy? Ansari had some thoughts:
Look, I saw the pictures. It didn't seem like this person's heart was in the wrong place...Do I not have all the facts? Did she step out of the limo like, "Konichiwa, bitches!" That's problematic.
On White People Discovering Racism
Nowadays, man, sometimes even when the stuff is racist, I'm like, can we just talk about something else? I don't think we're going to fix it at this brunch. I don't think this is the crew that's gonna crack the case. Say what you will about racist people; they're usually very brief. Newly woke white people are exhausting. "What's the statistic? Where'd you read the article? Aziz, have you seen this episode of The Simpsons? There's an Indian character [devolves into robotic song] da ba du ba dee ba du, think piece, think piece, I just read a think piece, now I'm gonna say what I read to you, here are the bullet points for the issue."
Ugh. Can you just call be Abu and leave me alone? Yeah, I'm aware. I'm aware, Candace. I saw it 30 years ago. It's a white guy doing an Indian voice. I appreciate the support, but things don't just become racist when white people figure it out.
On The Incarceration Of Black Men
Don't you realize, in 50 years, we're all going to look back and feel like complete assholes? Isn't that the dream, in a way? That 50 years from now, we look back, we can't even justify ourselves to our grandkids? We're just sitting there like, "Yeah, I don't know what the f*ck was going on...It was a weird time, 2019. We put every single black guy in jail! Every single black guy was in jail except for like, Drake, Levar Burton, and that little kid from Stranger Things. Besides them, we put every single black guy in jail for like, a little bit of weed! And then we made weed legal and we just...left them in there! I don't know, seems like we could have made a couple of calls.
On Being Expected To Date Other Asians
Even when a little kid, I remember being in first grade, every single kid in the class was white, except for me and this little Asian girl. And even back then, people used to be like, "Alright, Aziz! What's going on with you and Christine Lee, man? I see you two, what's going on over there? You look weird, she looks weird — let's do this!"
And then, 20-odd years later, I get into show business, it's the same thing: "Alright, Aziz! You're an Indian comedy actor, Mindy Kaling is an Indian comedy actor...what's going on?"
On Having To Explain American Racism To His Danish Girlfriend
Ansari explained that his girlfriend, who's Danish and didn't grow up in the States, doesn't always have the best grasp on American racism. In fact, much of the commentary on her and Ansari flies over her head — like the time she discovered people in the comments of some photos of them were calling her Becky.
"I had to explain to her, no one thinks your name is Becky," Ansari jokes. "That's just internet slang making fun of white girls...She was like, 'Oh, so it's kind of like a slur? Not that bad, really, just calling me a different name!'"
For more from him, you can stream Aziz Ansari: Right Now on Netflix, well, right now.