As GQ’s Brett Martin tells it, Aziz Ansari was at the afterparty of an Arcade Fire show recently when he tweeted the following: “David Chang, @lcdsoundsystem, and myself want to go to Tokyo and eat food. Can some magazine/Travel Channel pay.”
GQ saw the tweet and then stepped up and arranged for a trip. It’s good to be Aziz Ansari. That’s some Entertainment 720 sh*t right there.
And so it was that Ansari, it-boy chef David Chang, and LCD Soundsystem lead singer James Murphy flew to Tokyo on GQ’s dime to eat and party and the magazine’s Brett Martin tagged along to document it (not a bad gig). Here’s some of what he saw…
I looked around the table. Ansari’s passion for food had been the force that brought this triumvirate together. When confronted with an especially delicious bite of something, he would go into sensory-deprivation mode, bowing his head, closing his eyes, and folding his arms inward as though shutting down, the better to focus on the taste. Sometimes he would even start to shake a little.
“You are on television?” one of the (Japanese) girls asked Ansari. He allowed that he was.
“What program would I know about?”
“Have you seen Friends?”
“Yes!” all the girls said simultaneously.
“I played Chandler,” said Ansari. “Indian Chandler.”
The girls looked confused.
“Let’s not talk about TV. Let’s talk about movies,” one said.
“Have you seen Pretty Woman?” asked Ansari.
Then someone said, “We should go do karaoke.”
I’m told that Zima, that strange clear drink so ridiculed Stateside, is actually quite popular in Japan—so much so that when MillerCoors discontinued American production of the malt beverage in 2008, it continued to be sold in the Land of the Rising Sun. This does nothing to diminish the shock we all feel when the elevator doors open and we are presented with a maintenance man wheeling a huge trough of ice and clear bottles.
“Zima!” cries Chang, eyes gone wide. He falls upon the shocked janitor, pries the top off a bottle, and downs it. “Better than Four Loko,” he declares, perhaps the least helpful tasting note ever issued by a renowned chef.
Once we cram into the room, having picked up some of Murphy’s friends from previous trips along the way, the other guys show off their own special powers, like some kind of ninja superteam: Whap! Power of Hyperkinetic Comedian! Ansari climbs up on a banquette and goes bouncing around on the upholstery, performing both parts of B.o.B and Bruno Mars’s “Nothin’ on You.” Zing! Power of Lead Singer! Murphy dials up Lou Rawls’s “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” and launches in with a rich, rolling, buttery vocal that brings the room to a dead halt. The Mrs. Claus girls appear in the door as somebody dials up “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” Ansari wanders into the room next door and sings the Backstreet Boys to the shocked party. Their group joins ours. Or maybe we end up in the hallway. More Zima. Candy spills out across the floor. Somebody dials up A-Ha, and Murphy, Ansari, and Chang join arms:
Take on me
(Take on me, echo the rest of us.)
Take me onnnn
I’ll be gone
In a day or two
Somehow it’s become 4 A.M. We roll out into the wet, shockingly empty streets, still singing, and try to orient ourselves home by the blinking roof lights of the Cerulean. What began with a pleading tweet from Ansari ends with a triumphant one: #WeDominatedTokyoKaraokeTonight.
Straight HAM, y’all.