Take it easy, says Aziz Ansari. Easy on the cellphone cameras, that is.
In a conversation about his new standup special Aziz Ansari: Buried Alive, which is available on Netflix beginning Friday, the subject of social media comes up. Has it changed Ansari's standup act over the past dozen years?
"Now when I do a big theatre show, in the first minute I'll just be like, 'OK, I understand people like taking photos, so I'm just going to stand around and you can take a photo,' " says Ansari, who is best known to TV audiences for his role as Tom Haverford on Parks and Recreation. "You don't want it to interrupt the show.
"Ideally, people would treat standup like they do when they go to a play, and not hold cameras up. But that's just how people are now, they feel like they need the photo or whatever. I understand and I'm happy to do it, but that's the kind of stuff that has changed. As far as writing the actual show, none of that stuff has changed."
The writing may not have changed, but Ansari believes he has improved as a standup comedian, and he hopes that's apparent in Buried Alive.
"This is my third special, and I started writing it when I'd been doing standup for about 10 years," Ansari says. "They say that when you hit five years and when you hit 10 years there is a jump in your abilities, and I definitely felt that.
"My first two specials I put out, I was pretty young. I'm 30 and I have three specials now. Usually you don't get that many specials when you're my age."
Buried Alive was filmed last spring and with the project being on Netflix, where people will be able to watch it for years, Ansari is asked if he had to guard against using too much topical humour.
"I didn't know I was going to put the special on Netflix when I filmed it, I paid for it myself and was going to figure out how to release it later," Ansari says. "But I've never done too much current-affairs stuff anyway, that never really has been my thing.
"Sometimes (current-affairs comedy) works over a long period anyway. If you watch old Chris Rock specials, and he's talking about Marion Barry or something like that, it's still funny, it still works."
Good comedy lasts forever, I guess, but society changes. So when you're watching Buried Alive, take as many pictures as you want. But if you ever see Aziz Ansari live, he'd appreciate a little decorum and respect for art of standup.
"It's interesting, I went to see this play Paul Rudd did about a year ago, and everyone just watched the show," Ansari recalls. "And I felt like, 'Oh, if Paul Rudd did a standup show, it would just be all these people yelling dumb things that he said in movies and stuff.'
"Some people just don't know how to behave themselves. And it's always a very small percentage. But I try my best to keep it ultra cool so everyone can have a good time."