Aziz Ansari took a break from cracking jokes during his February 11 comedy set at New York City’s Village Underground to get serious for a moment about the sexual misconduct allegation made against him in January 2018. As first reported by Vulture, Ansari said he was hesitant to speak publicly about the “whole thing” because he wanted to take as much time as needed to process the allegation and determine what he wanted to say about it.
“It’s a terrifying thing to talk about,” Ansari told the audience. “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 continued by mentioning a friend who had told him that the allegation against Ansari made him rethink every date he has been on. “If that has made not just me but other guys think about this,” the comedian said, “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. I think it also just gave me perspective on my life. There was a moment where I was scared that I’d never be able to do this again.”
The comedian concluded by remembering how in the past he would always end his comedy shows by thanking the audience, which he admitted was something he didn’t genuinely feel. “But now, I really mean it. I mean it on a different level,” Ansari said. “You canceled whatever you were supposed to do tonight, and you came out in the cold, and you waited in line, and you put your phone in a stupid pouch. You did all this shit just to hear me talk for an hour and some change, and it means the world to me, so thank you so much.”
Ansari’s February 11 comedy set marked the first time he spoke publicly about the sexual misconduct allegation. The comedian was accused by an anonymous woman of acting sexually inappropriate during a date. Ansari released a statement January 14, 2018 saying everything that happened between the two was consensual, and since then he has remained largely out of the spotlight.