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Aziz Ansari on love, laughter and technology

Photos by Erik Tanner, Getty Images Contour

He's the master of everything, rather than "Master of None". Aziz Ansari writes, directs, produces and of course acts in his aforementioned series for Netflix. Indian-America, Muslim, Ansari is the ultimate multitasking, cutting edge auteur.  "Master of None" has received four Emmy nominations, and it's considered something of  a breakthrough and  of unprecedented fun and wit for the new global, streaming audience. Hyperactive Ansari is now busy in the pre production of Season 2.  In the first season we enjoyed the nerdy, witty Ansari starring in the role of a struggling New Actor (a variation of himself) named Dev who eventually falls in love with a music publicist named Rachel (Noel Wells).

"Master of None" was inspired by the cinema of the 1970, more than TV, film by directors such as Mike Nichols, Woody Allen and Hal Ashby says Ansari, 33 years old, who also mentions new TV series "Louie" (by his friend and mentor Louis C.K.) and "Girls" as an inspiration of sort. He previously worked with Netflix, which distributed his stand-up special "Buried Alive". We talked to him at the end of July, an exclusive one-on-one for Pirelli World

1. Aziz, as you might know you have been chosen for our story because your role in changing comedy. Do you agree with this assessment?

Well I think the whole landscape of comedy and serial entertainment is changing because there are so many more outlets for content, and because the type of distribution in impacting on the viewership. Streaming is the name of the game. You can binge on a series, something you couldn't do until a few years ago, let's say before the first season of "House of Cards". Today there are just so many more new voices and I think we are just getting more and more unique perspectives out there and more unique interesting voices and my hope is that our show "Master of None" and my voice is another unique voice that people are responding to.

2. What do you think it is in particular that you do when you feel that you push yourself more that nobody else?

I think it’s just taking risks.  In the first season of our show, take the second episode, you don’t even see any of the characters that got introduced in the first episode.  There’s an episode that takes place over the course of a year, and it’s only just two characters and you just see different mornings in a year long relationship and it’s just kind of takes moves like that, challenging yourself and the viewers.

3. In that sense, "Master of None", it’s a very high quality series, produced directly for streaming as opposed to the different ways before. Has that influenced your creative process?

I don’t think it’s influenced it too much, but I do think in the second season we are aware of that, like, "Oh, wow, a lot of people do watch the entire show very quickly!"  So I think that is in our heads a little bit, but I don’t think it’s changed it too much. 

Photos by Erik Tanner, Getty Images Contour

4. How do you think the relationships are changing with the younger generations? With all the digital and the technology?

I think they are just used to watching things when they want to watch them. When they hear about a traditional show, the idea of "Oh, I have to be at home at this time to watch the show", it’s very foreign to them, and it’s becoming more foreign to me and everybody I think.

5. What is it you are finding that the younger generations like the most about your comedy as opposed to older comedians?

Well, I am 33, and I think our show definitely speaks the reality that people in their 20s and 30s can relate to. But I also think we do things that are, anybody of any age can connect with.  They are ultimately timeless issues, about love and career and friendship and family. How are you going to make it fit for this generation?  How are you going to make it specific for your time?  What’s different now and how are you going to show it in a unique way?  But ultimately the themes and stuff will resonate with anybody.  

6. In fact, speaking of resonating with anyone, it seems like your relationship with ethnic and religious humour is particularly innovative. I mean your humour is not linked to any particular colour or race in many ways.

Yeah. I think, usually when people do humour about ethnicity, it’s usually stuff that a lot of people get turned off by. It’s kind of stereotype humour, kind of hacky jokes, and I think we are making an effort to kind of explore race and ethnicity in a deeper way, and I think a lot of times those perspectives aren’t viewed, because a lot of times frankly, it’s white people writing jokes for people of different colour and ethnicity, and not the people of that color or ethnicity writing those jokes.  But on our show it’s that colour and ethnicity of the people writing it, so it feels genuine. And I think the same with other shows that are created by minorities that people are responding to because the voice feels authentic for once.

7. You wrote a book last year about technology and relationships and romance. Can talk a little bit about that?  

Well, I was doing stand-up comedy about some of these ideas and I noticed it was really resonating with people and that everyone is dealing with a lot of these issues and everyone seemed oh these are very personal to me, I am the only one that is dealing with this, but in reality, everyone is going through the same thing and everyone has that same dilemma in their phone and we are all in it together.  And so I thought it would be interesting to write a book about it. Not just my funny anecdotes about failures and love, but a book that actually had some scientific merit.  So I wrote it with a sociologist and we interviewed hundreds of people and I learned a lot.

Photos by Erik Tanner, Getty Images Contour

8. Do you see new technologies as a game-changing factor in your field?

Yes, inevitably. Of course it's a game changer, but what's more interesting to me here in America – and other western countries –  there is a big shift in how we view love and marriage.  In the past, people got married at a much younger age and it was kind of a first step into adulthood and now there is this new phenomenon, where people spend time getting education and a career and all these things and in order to date they rely on technology, on online matching, on Internet, to find the perfect "specimen" to marry, whereas in the past people would meet someone in person and it was OK, good enough or not. So to me technology is playing a role more at an emotional level than strictly on a creative or professional one or whatever. We tackle this issue in "Master of None"'s second season.

9. How did social media affect your relationship with fans?

That’s such a cool thing that, you know, with the – you know, Facebook and Twitter and all those things you can – you can have a relationship with people that are fans of your work that you’ve never been able to have before and, you know, I’m very appreciative of any support I received in that regard.

10. How do you envision the future of television in terms both of technology and content? 

We are just begging to be able to watch things whenever you want, however you want. I mean, the viewer feels more creative than in the past. There's a creative freedom in the viewership thanks to the streaming system. It's fantastic! 

11. How do you see your own show changing? 

You know, as long as I and my creative partners feel inspired and as long as Netflix wants us to do the show, I am happy to do it.  As long as we feel inspired and continue to come up with good stuff, we will be excited to continue the show because it’s a great opportunity and we love working together and we all love working with Netflix, so we will see.

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