INDIA ABROAD May 26, 2017 32 ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
By Melena Ryzik
o not invite Aziz Ansari
to an Italian restaurant
casually. Having spent
several months living
in Italy last year, work-
ing in restaurants,
Ansari’s pasta-making stint —
at restaurants including the tiny
Mario Batali favorite Hosteria
Giusti in Modena — tied into
“Master of None,” whose first
season ended with his character,
Dev, jetting off to Italy on a
pasta-making journey of his own.
Which came first, the story line
or Mr. Ansari’s obsession? “I
secretly knew that if I wrote a
story where my character lives in
a small town and learns how to
make pasta, I could to go to a
small town in Italy and justify it
as research,” he said. Season 2,
released on May 12, starts out in
Modena, where Dev is hand-
rolling tortellini and having
adventures à la “The Bicycle
Ansari, 34, has been a master
of many pursuits — he is the co-
author of a best-selling book,
“Modern Romance,” about love
in the internet age; sold out
Madison Square Garden for his
stand-up tour; and has emerged
as a thoughtful voice for South
Asian artists and Muslim fami-
lies. He delivered a moment-
defining monologue, hosting
“Saturday Night Live” the day
after Donald J. Trump’s inaugu-
Ansari’s immigrant family has
been a secret weapon: His parents play scene-stealing versions
of themselves on the show, and
his younger brother, Aniz, is a
writer. The series is personal, so
don’t expect Season 3 anytime
soon. “I’ve got to live my life,
and have some stuff happen,”
Ansari said by phone from Los
Angeles. These are edited
excerpts from the conversation.
Your Italian on the show is pretty
good — did you pick it up easily?
I did three weeks of lessons. I
realized that I waste so much
time on the internet that if I didn’t, I could speak every language
Was this trip to Italy life-changing?
It was. I always had been
scared of the idea of going someplace by myself, and not knowing anyone.
I realized, how many more
years of my life am I going to
have where I don’t have anything that keeps me tied down? I
just want to explore living in
these places. It really helps me
creatively. You always hear that
people come up with ideas in the
shower — when I live in these
places, it’s like living my whole
life in the shower.
Did it also help you disengage
from social media?
When I’m shooting the show,
I give my phone to my assistant.
I feel like it’s a life-sucking force.
You read about [the director]
Christopher Nolan — he doesn’t
have a phone, and
it seems to work
out for him.
I saw him once,
and I didn’t ask
about “Batman.” I
asked him, how
does this work out
for you? His wife
was like, he
doesn’t have a
phone — but I do.
So that’s the
secret: Fall in love
with someone who
has a phone.
How did you prepare for the
I didn’t go anywhere for
Christmas — I just went to the
Comedy Cellar [the New York
club] every day. I would do 8, 9
shows a night.
The mood [after the election]
just kept changing. [The mono-
logue] kept changing, even
between rehearsal and the show.
It was a lot of pressure to have
on set, that’s why I worked so
hard on it. I think I pulled it off.
How do you feel now, as an
artist in the Trump
I have Trump
becomes repetitive: He said this
crazy thing, and
he didn’t apologize! You realize, I
don’t know if this
is news anymore.
It’s more like
None” was an immediate critical
success. What did you want to do
differently this time?
[Netflix] wanted me to go
back right away, and I said, we
really need a break; I dumped all
my ideas in the first season. Me
and Alan [Yang, the co-creator]
said, what do we feel best about
[from Season 1], and it was probably “Parents” [about being children of immigrants, which won
an Emmy for its writing] and
“Mornings” [about relation-ships], and “Indians on TV.” We
wanted all the episodes of
Season 2 to have that level of
One thing you tackle is religion,
and being a lapsed Muslim.
I thought about doing an
episode where it’s humor that’s
all based on this religion. Larry
David or Woody Allen would do
Jewish humor; I’ve never seen
that with Islam.
And there’s things that made
me laugh with my family, where
it’s someone pretending to be
more pious than they really are
— it felt like something we
hadn’t seen before.
There’s also, essentially, a
music video about pork.
That was very fun and filling
to film. There’s no body double
— that’s really me, eating all
— The New York Times
“I’ve got to
live my life,