Tom Haverford, Aziz Ansari's character on NBC's "Parks and Recreation," lost a bit of his swagger recently when "Orphan Black" star Tatiana Maslany guest starred as Nadia, a doctor who makes Tom swoon.
Tom's loss of confidence as he clumsily tried to woo Nadia aligns with the fearful attitude Ansari addresses in his latest stand-up special, "Buried Alive." As a man pushing 30, Ansari ruminates about becoming an adult, babies, marriage and other long-term relationships. The special, which was filmed live at the Merriam Theater in Philadelphia during the show's tour of more than 75 international cities, will debut Nov. 1 on Netflix.
During a recent conference call with reporters, Ansari talked about how different "Buried Alive" is from his previous comedy specials, "Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening" and "Dangerously Delicious," which are both already available on Netflix.
"This time it was kind of heavier things dealing with, you know, life and babies and marriage and stuff," he said, adding that as he hit age 30 he was grappling with the gravity of the "adult world." He could not imagine getting married, let alone being a father.
Ansari wrote "Buried Alive" a few years ago, he said he still has those fears, but is more comfortable with the idea he doesn't have to "catch up" with his friends.
"There's no reason to have a ticking clock because I don't have any, like, 'Oh, at this age I want to get married. At this age I want to have kids, or any of that stuff,'" he said.
Ansari answered questions about the special, working with Netflix, "Parks and Recreation" and what he would do if he wasn't making people laugh. "I would just be a chubby Indian man living in a mediocre town somewhere," he cracked.
I think he'd still be making people laugh. Read more after the clip from "Buried Alive."
What is it about Netflix that you enjoy working with them?
I just think Netflix is one of the few outlets we have to release material where people that watch it actually get to consume it the way they like to. I think people now just like to watch stuff whenever they want. I've done every kind of method of releasing stuff. I've released stuff myself for $5; I've aired stuff on cable. I've done every version of it. I just found when my specials are on Netflix, people just seemed to watch it on their time. They seemed to enjoy the user experience. So it seems smart to kind of give this one directly to them. And you know, eventually I'll do the $5 thingie a few months later or whatever.
Do you feel Netflix maybe offers you more creative freedom?
Well, all of my stand-up specials I've never felt any kind of burden creatively as far as trying to contain myself or anything. So with stand-up, I don't ever feel that; I've never felt about any of the specials.
I was struck by how personal this particular special was, especially the first half where you're talking about family and love. Were you working out some issues on stage?
Well, it just kind of came about organically, I kind of write stand-up about whatever is kind of going on in my life, whatever is in my head. ... And that's just kind of what happened and I ended up writing the special mostly about that stuff. If anything kind of random came up that was funny it didn't really fit in because I had so much about the other stuff.
Was there material that you thought you just had to leave out?
Whenever you do a special there's always bits here and there that you try and sometimes they don't work and you throw them away. But to be honest, the timeline from when I write material to when it comes out and people can watch the special is so long. I've already kind of written my next one and then that when I'll have to tour and then film and then there's a few months to do all this random stuff, editing and all that stuff. And then it finally comes out. So from the time it goes to the stage of writing stuff to actually being released is so long, I don't even remember to be honest.
You make a joke about child molesters in the special. How do you decide how far you can push the envelope and do you think people are more sensitive or less sensitive now to stuff that's considered taboo?
I think you have to take that all case by case. Any joke I do, I kind of do a case by case to see if it makes sense, you know? That joke, I'm sure if you paraphrase or took things out of context, you'd make me look like a horrible person. But ultimately that joke's about how I'd be scared to have a kid because, you know, I would be so scared for the safety of my kid. That's just a scary thought to me how parents just let their kids run around in the mall by themselves and things like that. The root of that joke is about that and ultimately it's an anti-child-molester joke. You can't really worry about the pro-child-molester people getting mad about that, right?