How Aziz Ansari is making world of comedy a better place

When minorities are writers, they are in positions of power that can shatter the pesky immigrant stereotypes.

 |  3-minute read |   20-09-2016
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Aziz Ansari has established that he is both the star and the master. His show may be called Master of None but the win at the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards for the co-writer has cemented his status as one of the funniest guys on television.

He was nominated with his co-creator Alan Yang and they won for Writing in a Comedy Series early on, in an evening that was historic because it had a wide variety of non-white creators and performers who were also nominated.

The Emmys have proved to be better than the Oscars because they recognised and honoured diversity by giving trophies to behind-the scenes artistes and Ansari and Yang.

Ansari, who has perfect timing, grabbed the opportunity he had at the Emmys to strike a blow at Republican nominee Donald Trump before he presented an award. The laughter was muted but the internet buzz was off the charts.

Ansari has come out swinging against Trump for his xenophobic rhetoric in a piece he wrote for The New York Times.

On the Emmy stage, Ansari told the disbelieving crowd that he, a Muslim, has decided to vote for Trump, apparently to increase his chances of winning more awards.

“After careful consideration, I have decided I’m going with Trump, which is also why I am recommending we get rid of all Muslim and Hispanic nominees from the ceremony immediately. This would be so much easier if we were at the Oscars,” he said.

Ansari briefly pointed out his amused parents before asking that they be escorted out of the building.

Yang had his own iconic moment as he called out the lack of diversity in Hollywood and called for more roles for Asians as there are “17 million Asian Americans".

As we continue the debate on how there should be more roles for people of colour, I personally think it’s time to celebrate Ansari’s rewarding journey.

master-embed_092016124039.jpg Aziz Ansari won for Writing in a Comedy Series for Master of None at the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards.   

His critically acclaimed Netflix sitcom Master of None is a play on the phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none” because he co-wrote, directed and starred in it.

And now finally the small, brown-skinned guy from South Carolina should get the respect he deserves.

Ansari established himself as a new voice in comedy with sold-out shows in all arenas in America and for his role in Parks and Recreation.

But he was also one of the artistes who was lucky enough to benefit from the internet, which broke all border barriers and gave him a dedicated fan base.

Ansari specialises in cultural tensions and misunderstandings. In Master of None, for instance, he plays a struggling actor, Dev Shah, who is clearly based on himself.

He goes into brutally honest and uncomfortable territory in his show. There’s one particular episode which is unmistakably autobiographical and grapples with the difficulty of being an Indian actor in America, usually stuck playing stereotypical clichéd roles of cab-drivers or store-workers with really pronounced accents.

Ansari has resisted being with the crowd. He has always said he wants to be funny for what he says without the accent, thank you very much.

In an interview, he said: “For me, the point of Master of None is that when people think of an everyman, they think of a white guy… but that’s not the everyman. The everyman is everybody. Every single person regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, whatever. They have a story that we can all be interested in and everyone’s life has drama and comedy that can make a compelling narrative.”

While we are grateful for the gorgeous Priyanka Chopra playing the lead in Quantico and raising the profile of Indian Americans, what we really need are more Ansaris.

Because when minorities are writers, they are in positions of power that can shatter the pesky immigrant stereotypes.

So let’s take a moment to celebrate Ansari. May his tribe increase.

Also read: Why every Indian should be proud of Priyanka Chopra

Writer

Sonia Chopra Sonia Chopra @soniachopra28

The writer is a freelance journalist based in Ohio. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, New York Newsday, The Orlando Sentinel, Salon.com, Rediff,com, India Abroad, Indian Express, Firstpost.com, and The Quint.

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