On Monday, Vulture posted a roundup of jokes from one of Aziz Ansari’s recent string of shows in Wisconsin (the one reviewed took place Saturday at Milwaukee’s Turner Hall). Before January, this post probably never would have been considered newsworthy enough to print (a lot of comedians do shows, some actually have jokes), but as entertainers attempt redemption arcs after #MeToo-era allegations of sexual assault, misconduct, and harassment, a story like this is particularly pertinent. We were just talking about this on Tuesday: Here they come again.
In case you need a reminder as to what Ansari is attempting to come back from: An anonymous photographer detailed a date with the comedian/actor, in which she alleged that he harassed her, coerced her into sexual activity, and overstepped her boundaries in a shoddily executed post that ran on Babe.net in January. In a response released to press, Ansari said the sexual activity “by all indications was completely consensual.”
To address the elephant in the room, Vulture reported that Ansari did not address the elephant in the room Saturday night. Writing for Vulture, Ryan Glasspiegel observed:
If you didn’t know about the controversy, you wouldn’t have realized that this was the beginning stage of Ansari’s reemergence from it. My sense during the show was that the crowd was aware of the saga, but not judgmental about it. A woman sitting in front of me told me she saw it as “very low on the scale of ‘bad date’ to ‘Harvey Weinstein.’”
Page Six reported that after the publication of its post, Vulture then deleted the jokes (keeping only three introductory paragraphs) and posted “a note saying that the story had included content that the site didn’t have ‘permission’ to publish.” The post’s title was changed from, “What Aziz Ansari Covered in One of His First Shows Post-#MeToo Allegations” to “The Scene Inside One of Aziz Ansari’s Recent Shows.”
After that, according to Page Six, the post was updated again to include a note above the text:
This post originally contained descriptions of Ansari’s jokes from the show. We don’t want to give away the guy’s whole set, so it has since been removed.
That is how the post exists now: a caveat and three brief grafs summarizing Glasspiegel’s experience (amended only to conclude the post smoothly, where it once went into the section of jokes from the set). Page Six reports that Vulture did this on its own accord without Ansari’s request. A rep for the site is quoted as having told Page Six, “We recognize that’s a sensitive issue for performing comedians and chose to take out his jokes so as not to spoil the integrity of his act.”
Well, we don’t care about giving away the guy’s whole set or the integrity of his act, so here’s a brief recap of Vulture’s recap via the Wayback Machine, where the original text still lives. The original post broke down Ansari’s set into four themes: dating, Trump, Apu, and representation.
Regarding dating, Ansari reported he’s been dating a “white, European-born physicist for eight months” (quotes are Vulture’s) and that it’s refreshing to date someone with a single-word job title since so many people in New York and Los Angeles work in social media for “complicated-sounding Uber-or-Netflix-of-X-absurdist-idea apps.” He discussed interracial dating and how celebrities are judged for it. He hypothesized what relationships would look like if men had to take birth control pills or insert IUDs up their dick holes (“he pantomimed a man melodramatically freaking out about weight gain and having to buy new clothes,” regarding the former). He concluded that men are ridiculous for leaving this the responsibility of women and then complaining about condoms’ diminishing sensation because they’re so thin. (Ansari’s enthusiasm for condoms was in fact noted in Babe’s story: “When Ansari told her he was going to grab a condom within minutes of their first kiss, Grace voiced her hesitation explicitly.”)
The Trump section of Vulture’s post noted that Ansari touched on Trump only tangentially when he discussed the rapid news cycle and push notifications. He said he’s untethered to the news these days and surmised that people probably now take longer shits because of all the reading they do on their phones. (As if crossword puzzles and cinder-block-sized Stephen King novels didn’t keep them occupied in more analog years?) He discussed his disdain for progressives out-woking each other in various outrage cycles. He recalled one Laurel/Yanny-style controversy in which someone received a Pizza Hut pizza with pepperonis arranged in the shape of a swastika, though others claimed the configuration looked more like the Star of David. He polled the audience on which they recalled seeing, and then revealed that the controversy hadn’t actually happened, which seems obvious since a swastika and a Star of David are entirely different shapes. However, according to Glasspiegel, “It was actually believable.”
Regarding other controversies, Ansari reported that he’s not particularly worked up over Apu, the Simpsons character many have accused of being a racist stereotype. He said he didn’t think canceling Roseanne Barr and those like her for racism was going to cause a mass wave of tolerance and made a joke about racists not flying their Confederate flags at half mast when someone gets exiled from pop culture. He said that there’s an excess of back patting (I guess from liberals) in these cases.
Finally, in the representation section, Glasspiegel recounted Ansari calling it a positive when he’s mistaken for Pakistani-American actor Kumail Nanjiani because it means that people who look like him are getting roles. (Or one person who looks like him?) He joked about creating an all-Indian Mission Impossible reboot, in which the computer nerd is played by a white guy. He discussed the difficulty of casting a young actor on Master of None and compared and contrasted the way Indian and white parents handle their children’s failure.
There’s some more stuff in there, but this is pretty much it. Great stuff, huh? Maybe you had to be there?
Jezebel reached out to New York magazine’s communications department to confirm Page Six’s reporting and to ask for additional comments. In response, a rep told Jezebel that New York had nothing to add.