Aziz Ansari gets ready for his close-up

Dangerous fun
By JESSE PAPINEAU  |  June 15, 2011


Though he hasn't been in the public eye for long, Aziz Ansari is quickly proving to be a pop culture mainstay. He first gained recognition in 2007 writing for and acting in MTV's short-lived sketch comedy show Human Giant and in supporting roles in the blockbuster comedies Funny People and Get Him to the Greek. However, Ansari broke through the mainstream ceiling in 2009 starring alongside Amy Poehler in NBC's brilliant mockumentary, Parks and Recreation. A comedy triple-threat, Ansari may be soon be known for his writing, which will eventually manifest itself on the big screen in a number of Judd Apatow-produced flicks.

Aziz is doing a number of stand-up shows on his "Dangerously Delicious Tour" before going back to Los Angeles in July to shoot new Parks episodes. In advance of his appearance at the Newport Comedy Series, he answered a few questions about his upcoming movie 30 Minutes or Less (by Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer), portraying Tom Haverford, and random zombie attacks.

YOU'VE HAD MEMORABLE BIT PARTS IN A FEW COMEDIES IN RECENT YEARS, BUT YOUR UPCOMING FILM30 MINUTES OR LESS IS ONE OF YOUR FIRST STARRING ROLES. HOW WOULD YOU COMPARE YOUR EXPERIENCE ON SET TO THE OTHER MOVIES? I was there a lot more since I'm in the whole movie and it was a lot more work, but very rewarding. With the smaller parts, I was there for a few days and spent the rest of my time riding water slides and roller coasters (ok, was probably a little more productive than that).

DO ANY ZOMBIES MAKE A CAMEO IN30 MINUTES OR LESS? No, zombies kind of break the reality of a movie unless it's a zombie movie. Although that would be great if after the happy ending in a total normal movie, it just ended with a shot of a bunch of zombies coming.

WHEN CAN FANS EXPECT THE FIRST OF THE THREE FILMS JUDD APATOW BOUGHT FROM YOU AND YOUR BUDDY JASON WOLINER TO BE RELEASED? Soon, I hope. Movie stuff takes a long time. We're working on the script for one called Spacemen now about two disgraced astronauts who have to go to the moon to clear their names. It's really funny.

DO YOU EVER INCORPORATE MATERIAL IN CURRENT PROJECTS THAT YOU WROTE IN YOURHUMAN GIANT DAYS? Not really, sketch is a much different animal and I feel like I'm a much different writer/performer than from those days.

WHAT PERCENTAGE OF YOUR LINES INPARKS AND RECREATION ARE AD-LIBBED? Every now and then an improvised line sneaks in, but it's a very well-written show and most of what you see is in the script.

HOW MUCH OF TOM HAVERFORD'S CHARACTER DID YOU PERSONALLY DEVELOP, AND WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU MADE TO HIM OVER THE COURSE OF THREE SEASONS? The character, like all the characters in Parks, has developed over time. Early on, the writers and I discussed Tom being real into fashion, hip-hop, nightlife, and awkwardly hitting on women. Those threads have been a constant, but it's just been fun to see how those traits have manifested themselves and evolved in the show.

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  Topics: Comedy , Amy Poehler, Aziz Ansari, zombies,  More more >
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