Opinion: Aziz Ansari’s Comic Rehabilitation in India

Aziz Ansari made his India debut for an easy audience — and it worked.

Sonali Kokra

May 30, 2019

Opinion: Aziz Ansari’s Comic Rehabilitation in India

Last weekend, comedian Aziz Ansari performed in India for the first time in his stand-up career. “We’re all growing,” he said to a packed Mumbai audience, his voice dropping dramatically. India is a natural next step for many “Indian-origin” artists, from Russell Peters, who is currently touring the country, to Lilly Singh, who was in India in April for YouTube Fan Fest. It played an important role on Ansari’s comeback show Road to Nowhere — Ansari hasn’t gone on tour since 2018, when a woman, “Grace,” gave a damning account to babe.net of a date during which he coaxed her into sex acts that left her feeling confused and violated.

All of the performances during Ansari's three-day India tour were sold out. He had shows in Mumbai and Delhi and performed multiple times a day in both cities. Ansari’s first Instagram post in India last week received a whopping 126,000 likes, his most popular post in weeks.

India is an easy place for Ansari to rise anew. Many urban millennials stream Western shows and have a strong connection with the Indian American diaspora. After the accusations, the journalist at babe.net reached out to Ansari and did not receive a response. Later, Ansari’s team issued clipped statements: he had perceived the situation to be “completely consensual,” and had been “surprised and concerned” to hear that Grace was uncomfortable. Ansari had taken her words “to heart” and “had responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said.”