Aziz Ansari is going from supporting player on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” to the writer, star and sometimes director of new Netflix comedy “Master of None,” which is also partly autobiographical.
To hear the comedian tell it, the job is as all-encompassing as it sounds.
“I always said ‘Parks’ would be the best job I ever had, it was great,” Ansari said onstage during the Television Critics’ Association summer press tour. “It was a few days a week, I was there for a few hours, I’d dick around for a while. With this [show], there’s no time for dicking around. I have to make decisions with [fellow showrunner] Alan [Yang] on everything. Every prop, all the casting, every single thing. That was what was really cool, we could really make it our own thing. It was the most creatively fulfilling thing I’ve ever done.”
“Master of None” is a 10-episode exploration on relationships, race, career and more following the story of Dev (played by Ansari), a 30-year-old actor in New York. Much of it is based on Ansari’s own life, prompting the comedian to call it the most personal acting gig he’s ever had.
The show also makes Ansari’s one of the few shows featuring an Asian lead, along with ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat” and Hulu’s “The Mindy Project.”
Yang, as an Asian-American writer and showrunner, said he doesn’t feel pressure to tell more Asian stories.
“I don’t feel pressure, but I do feel very proud to have the privilege and opportunity to tell these stories,” he told TheWrap after the panel. “It’s something that’s very meaningful to Aziz and me. There’s this episode about our parents’ experience, and I feel very lucky, because there’s just not that very many shows where you would be able to tell that story… With all these things it takes time. We actually have an episode about what it’s like to be Indian or Asian on TV, and one of the messages of the episode is that these things take time. And the only way to do it is to make the best TV show you can, and hopefully help and inspire other Asian people to do similar things. Being Asian-American in comedy is not a well-trod path so far, but I feel very lucky to be able to do it.”
“Master of None” will be released Nov. 6 on Netflix.