Aziz Ansari Almost Gets It

Reality and PerceptionAziz Ansari is a comic whose work I really like.  I’ve seen him do stand-up and act on Parks and Recreation and I’m a fan of his.

I am a fan of stand-up comedy in general.  I’ve even done a little myself and though I’m certainly not great at it, I’m thinking about getting better and doing more because I think that comedy can be a place for social justice work, a place to talk about difficult things when people’s defenses are down, and I think that helping people laugh – whether it’s to get a point across or just helping them find the funny for a little while –  is a worthy pursuit.  Because of all that, I have a much wider berth for what is ok in comedy than I would for regular conversations. I’m still not a fan of getting cheap laughs by playing off stereotypes for any group – I like my comedy to be smarter than that (paging Eddie Izzard to the stage please.)

For those reasons I’m not a fan of roasts – I don’t see them having a social conscience or doing anything other than giving those who are roasting an opportunity for cheap laughs at others’ expense.  I find them typically rampant with racism, sexism, homophobia, trans* phobia and fat phobia which I don’t think are hilarious.  Before someone freaks out about freedom of speech, let me be clear that I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be allowed, I’m saying that they’re not my thing.

Apparently comedian Aziz Ansari had enough at Comedy Central’s roast of James Franco.  He used his time to take the other roasters to task for their racist and homophobic jokes based on cheap stereotypes.  Yay!  Then he punctuated his point by making a fat joke based on cheap stereotypes.  What the hell dude?

Aziz got almost all the way there, then he tripped on his own prejudice right at the finish line. This happens sometimes with people – they can see their point of view (“I should be legally able to get a divorce even though my religion says it’s wrong”), but they can’t see the issue if applied to other people (“Gay people should not be legally allowed to get married because my religion says it’s wrong.”)

I think that when you find these disconnections, the first step is often to gently point out what’s happening – sometimes that’s all that’s needed to help someone see the disconnect.  Regardless, I think it’s important to note that it happens and that there’s really no justification for it and any attempt at justification ends up sounding like “But, but, but, I want to get cheap laughs by continuing to pile the stigma, shame and stereotyping onto fat people! *petulant foot stomp*” which is a pretty difficult position to defend from a place of logic. So if people try to rationalize this away and you notice that they end up sounding like idiots, it’s not you – it’s them.

If you want to let Aziz know that it’s no more ok to make jokes based on cheap stereotypes of fat people than it is to make those same jokes about any other group of people, you can communicate with him in the following ways:

You can leave a comment on the Youtube Video 

Tweet Him  @azizansari

Find him on Facebook

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12 thoughts on “Aziz Ansari Almost Gets It

  1. YES! YES! YES!

    Oh, and I am so with you about roasts. Completely not my thing… but if Eddie Izzard did one, well, I might just have to tune in and hear what an executive transvestite does at one of those things.

    One tiny editorial issue: I’m guessing you meant ‘petulant foot stomp’ up there… though I would love to see a ‘petulant food stomp’ as much as the next gal. I’m seriously seeing some honked off zucchini in my brain and it’s delicious. Pun fully intended.

  2. I would say, like so many of us were before we started reading this blog and others like it, that he probably wasn’t aware of the errors and the bigotry. It is easy–waaaay too easy–to fall into The Cult of Everybody Knows. I still do it myself: there are times when I see a fat person and think uncharitable thoughts, as much as I’ve retrained my mind (I would say that it happens MAYBE 6% of the time…!). Hypocritical, I know, but I’ve been working on this for 5 years…it takes time. I am NOT perfect.

    So yeah, probably the Everybody Knows Fat People Are…reared its head there. People are born gay. They’re born handicapped. They’re born tall, short, brown, spotted, deaf, etc. You can’t help that.

    But born to be fat? Naw…that’s ALL your fault. That’s a CHOICE, man. YOU need to put down the chicken leg and soda and go for a run until we deem you acceptable. Otherwise…yeah, it’s open season for mockery…because YOU DESERVE IT. Clearly if you can’t control your eating, you can’t control anything else in your life, so we have a right to mock.

    F*ck that right in the ear.

  3. Posted on the youtube and his facebook, right under your post.

    I love the old Dean Martin roasts because those guys all knew and loved each other dearly and they made the same jokes about themselves that they made about each other. The new roasts aren’t nearly as funny because they’re far more biting and involve a lot more scathing sarcasm. A lot of the laughs look forced to me.

  4. THANK YOU! I’ve seen the gif set of of his calling out the other roasters for their homophobic jokes all over Tumblr, but even a couple of the fatspo bloggers I follow have reblogged it without comment on him nonchalantly equating “fat” with “slovenly, lazy, dirty, and ugly.”

    I don’t understand what’s so hard to get. Cheer someone on for standing up against different forms of bigotry, yes; but that doesn’t mean they should get a pass for perpetuating ANOTHER form of it.

    1. I think people lik Aziz are going, “Alright if I stand up commonly unaccepted bigotry, then I can make fun of people who face lesser known forms of bigotry.” He wants to be able play both sides of the game, be a bigot when it’s funny, and then stand up against bigots when it’s not. He’s trying too hard to please everybody. He can’t take a real stance if it means he’ll face flack for it, so he just follows others in regards to morals. You shouldn’t be a comedian, if you can’t handle controversy!

  5. He started off so well , like the guy in the football game last night . He dropped the ball and celebrated before he actually scored. “He could go all the wa…ait a minuet never mind” . I am happy for the groups he did stand up for though,but sorely disappointed for us as a community. I am happy to have this little slice of heaven to come to though , thanks Ragen and everyone involved in the discussions on the blog .

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