Aziz Ansari recently embarked upon his “Road to Nowhere” tour that some are describing as a comeback but Ansari himself chooses to label as a series of pop-up shows. A week ago, he very briefly made onstage mention of the sexual misconduct allegations that prompted him to retreat from the spotlight in early 2018, and in NYC, he’s now gone further while reflecting upon those claims from an anonymous woman who revealed an encounter with Ansari that fueled an embattled discussion about consent. The ensuing debate revolved around whether the accusations against the Master Of None star amounted to sexual misconduct, or if it was a case of a really bad date. At the time, Ansari effectively paused his career for a year after expressing support for the #MeToo movement in a nuanced statement about the allegations.
On Monday, Vulture was on hand for the gathering of 200 attendees (18,000 people attempted to score tickets) at the Village Underground (the second venue of the Comedy Cellar). According to the outlet, Ansari explained that he needed time to process the matter, which he noted was a “terrifying thing” to discuss. With “voice wavering,” he addressed how the experience has changed the way he thinks, and he hopes it changes how other men think as well:
“There were times I felt really upset and humiliated and embarrassed, and ultimately I just felt terrible this person felt this way. But you know, after a year, how I feel about it is, I hope it was a step forward. It made me think about a lot, and I hope I’ve become a better person.” Ansari recalled a conversation in which a friend told him it made him rethink every date he’s been on: “If that has made not just me but other guys think about this, and just be more thoughtful and aware and willing to go that extra mile, and make sure someone else is comfortable in that moment, that’s a good thing.”
Ansari’s public statement stands in sharp contrast to that of fellow comedian Louis C.K., who has been addressing his own (very different) allegations with far less refinement. The I Love You, Daddy‘s recent onstage turns have included him complaining about how much money he’s lost while also slamming teen survivors of gun violence. Michael Ian Black, who is currently penning a book on rethinking masculinity, has stated that he regrets expressing support for Louis’ comeback tour and hopes to add his “small voice” to difficult conversations that might help men understand the issue of consent from women’s perspectives. No matter how one views the allegations that were made against Ansari, it appears that he’s also committed to having the same conversations as Black.