You might recognize funnyman Aziz Ansari from his hit MTV sketch comedy show Human Giant, from his appearances on HBO's Flight of the Conchords and Comedy Central’s Premium Blend, or perhaps from hilarious viral videos like the "Shittiest Mixtape Boombox Blast" and his tendency of taking the stage for a few laughs at popular music festivals.
The 25 year-old actor/comedian will appear in several feature films throughout next year, playing opposite Seth Rogan in Observe and Report, with Adam Sandler in Funny People, and with Paul Rudd in the DreamWorks comedy I Love You, Man. On top of that, Ansari will be starring opposite Amy Poehler in a new NBC series from the creators of The Office, and doing a multi-episode appearance on Scrubs.
The award-winning standup comedian, who is considered one of the country’s hottest young talents, is currently headlining a multi-city comedy tour that will make its last stop of the year tonight at Emo's. Opening the show will be local comedian Brendon Walsh, who was crowned "Funniest Person in Austin" at Cap City Comedy Club's 19th annual contest. Doors are at eight, and tickets are available at the link or at the door.
Here are 12 questions I sent Aziz Ansari in anticipation of his Austin performance tonight. As expected, he came through with some brilliant answers on topics like the best albums of 2008, BBQ, and his reggae cover band with Jason Statham.
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- First things first. I know you're a regular at SXSW, and obviously a huge music buff, so what were some of your favorite albums of 2008?
James Murphy and Pat Mahoney - FabricLive.36
Deerhunter - Microcastle
TV on the Radio - Dear Science
Hercules and Love Affair
Jay Reatard - Singles '06/'07
Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours
Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III
The Dutchess and the Duke
Fleet Foxes - Ragged Wood
Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
Atlas Sound - Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel
- You're in Austin fairly often, what do you like most about this place?
AA: SXSW is my favorite time of the year, period. And I have a thing for BBQ.
- Do you have any crazy stories from your time here?
AA: When I was in Austin for SXSW in '94, I remember staying at the Intercontinental and having a bunch of luggage with me. I kept complaining to the guys I was in the elevator with about how cumbersome it was. This one guy goes, "Did you say cumbersome? Hey, what does that word mean?" I explained it to him and he seemed very intrigued and just said, "Cumbersome" quietly to himself over and over. A year later, I found out this gentleman was the lead singer of a little band called Seven Mary Three and he'd written a song about me.
- How is this comedy tour going? What does your current routine focus on?
AA: It's going great! The current bits are things I've written over the last few months and stuff I'm going to record for a CD hopefully in January.
- How much does your latest film work differ from your previous stuff?
AA: The main difference is my previous film work was mainly in stunts. I was generally on fire or driving through walls. This year, I'm actually acting in some comedies I'm really excited about like Funny People with Judd Apatow and Observe and Report with Seth Rogen and Jody Hill. I also did a small, small part in I Love You, Man, a new movie with Paul Rudd and Jason Segel. These were all really fun and the directors let me improvise and really make the characters my own, especially on Judd's movie. Unfortunately, I did have to pass on some stunt work as a result, and not to brag, but the driving in Fast and the Furious 4, probably won't be up to par with what you saw in Tokyo Drift (my driving).
- Are there plans for a third season of Human Giant?
AA: Not right now, we were offered one but the schedule didn't work out with my commitment to the NBC show I'm doing with the producers of "The Office." However, there are other Human Giant related things in the works, but its too early to talk about them.
- What do you do when you're not working?
AA: Listen to music, watch Lost/Mad Men/Friday Night Lights/Top Chef, and go to eat at good restaurants.
- What/who makes you laugh?
AA: Louis CK, Patton Oswalt, The Office, 30 Rock, Tim and Eric, this compilation video of reenacted workplace accidents on YouTube.
- What will you do for the holidays?
AA: I'm a mall Santa in a town with a high concentration of Southeast Asian minorities. Sometimes its good for those kids to see a young, brown-skinned Santa.
- Will you be back for SXSW again in 2009?
AA: I hope it won't conflict with the shooting schedule on the NBC show I'm doing, but I hope to come back. This time not as a comedian though, I've started a reggae band with Transporter star Jason Statham. We do reggae covers of TV theme songs from the mid to late 80s. We do a wicked version of the "Family Ties" theme.
- Just curious, have you ever thrown a shoe at anyone in disgust?
AA: No, but someone once threw beef ribs at me during a show. But it was positive because they know I love beef ribs.
- Lastly, Austin has its own little comedy scene down here, do you have any advice for somebody who wants to get into comedy?
AA: The best advice is Steve Martin's - "Be undeniably good."
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