Magazine article Screen International

Emmys 2017: Aziz Ansari Talks 'Master of None'

Magazine article Screen International

Emmys 2017: Aziz Ansari Talks 'Master of None'

Article excerpt

The comedian talks to Screen about his most personal and challenging project to date.

Starting out in stand-up comedy in 2001, while he was a student at New York University, Aziz Ansari has built an increasingly high-profile career that includes seven seasons playing Tom Haverford on hit NBC sitcom Parks And Recreation. It was while working on that show that Ansari met writer Alan Yang, and the idea of his most recent project, Netflix comedy Master Of None, was born.

“Alan and I were really close friends during the whole run of Parks And Rec,” says Ansari. “We would always lightly talk about doing our own series and shooting it in New York, and doing something that was only eight or 10 episodes as opposed to the 22-episode form of Parks.”

As Parks And Recreation began winding down (the show came to an end in 2015), the duo became more serious about the prospect of Master Of None. Ansari and Yang approached Parks co-creator and showrunner Mike Schur and asked him to godfather the project, and the trio pitched their idea to networks long before they came to making it.

“When we pitched and sold it, we didn’t know there was going to be another season of Parks,” explains Ansari. “During that time, Alan and I kept talking about [Master Of None] and it evolved.”

It was Netflix that eventually boarded the project - a natural fit, given Ansari’s established relationship with the streaming giant. “I had done my stand-up specials with them,” he says. “When we went to them, they were just super enthusiastic. They told us we didn’t have to do a pilot or anything. We just went straight-to-series - 10 episodes.” All episodes of the first season debuted on Netflix in November 2015.

City life

Master Of None centres on the personal and professional life of Dev Shah (played by Ansari), a struggling 30-year-old actor in New York. Yet the final version of the show ended up looking nothing like the one they pitched. Originally it was conceived as an “Aziz show” set in the city with a recurring group of friends, and based on Ansari’s stand-up material adapted into narrative form. …

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