Aziz Ansari‘s newest comedy special hit Netflix on Tuesday, and he wasted no time addressing the elephant in the room.
Less than five minutes into Aziz Ansari: Right Now, the comedian acknowledged the sexual misconduct allegations that were leveled against him more than a year ago, admitting that he “just felt terrible” that his accuser felt she’d been violated by him.
To refresh your memory: In January 2018, a 23-year-old woman using the pseudonym Grace posted an article on the now-defunct Babe.net, detailing a date with Ansari that ended in an uncomfortable — and, by her account, nonconsensual — sexual encounter with the actor. After the article was published, Ansari said in a statement that “it was true that everything did seem okay to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned. I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said.”
Ansari shared a similar sentiment with his Right Now audience, noting that “I felt so many things in the last year or so” after the allegations came to light.
“There’s times I felt scared, there’s times I felt humiliated, there’s times I felt embarrassed. And ultimately, I just felt terrible that this person felt this way,” he shared, speaking in a hushed voice. “And after a year or so, I just hope it was a step forward. It moved things forward for me, made me think about a lot. I hope I’ve become a better person.”
The Master of None star said he’s also had meaningful conversations with others about issues of consent: “I always think about a conversation I had with one of my friends where he was like, ‘You know what, man? That whole thing made me think about every date I’ve ever been on.’ And I thought, ‘Wow. Well, that’s pretty incredible.’ If this made not just me, but other people, be more thoughtful, then that’s a good thing, and that’s how I feel about it.”
Ansari then brought some levity to the moment, acknowledging that “this isn’t the most hilarious way to begin a comedy show. But it’s important to me that you know how I feel about that whole thing before we share this night together.”
Aziz Ansari: Right Now is currently available to stream on Netflix. What did you think of his response to the controversy?