July 5, 2012
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Aziz Ansari loves a little drama
By Bill Harris, QMI Agency

AFP photo

Dumb comedy often trumps smart comedy when it comes to TV viewership. But Aziz Ansari of Parks and Recreation has a simple solution that works for him.

He just doesn't watch dumb comedy.

"The shows I watch, I like Curb Your Enthusiasm, I watch Louis C.K.'s show (Louie), but I mostly watch dramas like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Homeland," Ansari says. "I'm usually pretty comedy'd out.

"I can't speak to (dumb comedy versus smart comedy), I haven't seen any of the new pilots. But there always is going to be a small sliver of stuff that's great, hopefully."

Since 2009 Ansari has played Tom Haverford on the Amy Poehler sitcom Parks and Recreation, which airs on NBC and Citytv. But Ansari's standup roots go back more than a decade.

Ansari currently is in the midst of his intriguingly titled Buried Alive standup tour across North America with Canadian dates on tap in Toronto (July 6), Ottawa (July 7) and Montreal (July 25, 26, 27) So has he changed his standup approach given his increased recognizability from Parks and Recreation?

"I've never adjusted my act for anything," Ansari says. "I don't think there are people in the standup audience who have just seen Parks and Rec and have decided to come, and think it's Tom.

"You know, it's not the cheapest ticket in the world. It's not like it's the most expensive ticket, either, but if you're going to a theatre show, you're probably somewhat familiar with what you're going to see."

Well, there are people who thought Cats was about real cats. Nonetheless, Ansari is confident he has improved as both a sitcom actor and a standup comedian.

"The more you do it, the better you get - it's a simple notion, but it's unbelievably true," says Ansari, 29. "For the standup show, I have a brand new hour of material that has not been in any of my specials, and I think it's my best hour.

"With standup, everyone is on the same page right now and agrees Louis C.K. is probably the best. That guy has been doing it for almost as long as I've been a human being. Over 25 years, right? It's the reason he's that good, he has done it so long.

"And when you're acting on a show like Parks and Rec, eventually you know the tone, and you know, 'If I improvise these types of jokes, these are the ones that will make it in.' "

Looking ahead to the fifth season of Parks and Recreation, obviously things will change now that Leslie Knope (Poehler) is a city councillor.

"We go back in August and we don't get the scripts until we start shooting," Ansari says. "But whatever Tom is up to, I'm sure it will be a silly, self-serving thing."



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