"It's a terrifying thing to talk about," Ansari said. "There were times I felt really upset and humiliated and embarrassed, and ultimately I just felt terrible this person felt this way."
Aziz Ansari reflected on the sexual misconduct allegation made against him during his stand-up set Monday night.
While performing a "pop-up show" in New York City's Village Underground for roughly 200 people, the comedian opened up about how the allegation and fallout that ensued made him "scared" that he would never be able to do stand-up again.
A little over a year ago, Ansari was accused of sexual misconduct by an anonymous 23-year-old woman. The woman, codenamed Grace in the Babe.net article, alleged that sexual acts occurred during a date with the actor even though she was "physically giving off cues" she wasn't comfortable. Ansari considered the encounter consensual and said in a statement he didn't pick up on the non-verbal cues. The actor has kept a low-profile ever since and hadn't spoken about the allegation in depth. That is, until Monday night.
According to Vulture, the "Parks and Rec" star began his set at the Comedy Cellar venue by telling a joke about how a guy on the street told him he loved his Netflix show but soon realized that the man was talking about fellow comedian Hasan Minhaj's series "Patriot Act."
Once he'd clarified with the man who he was, the comic then proceeded to rattle off his series of accomplishments -- which ultimately ended in an uncomfortable punchline.
"Oh, no, Aziz, right?'" Ansari recalled. "'Yeah, yeah, that's me. 'Master of None!' Yeah, yeah, that's me. 'Parks and Rec!' Yeah, yeah, that's me. 'Treat yourself!' Yeah, yeah, that's me. 'And you had the whole thing come out last year -- sexual misconduct?' No, no, no, no, no, no, that's Hasan!"
The publication pointed out that Ansari's voice then turned "somber," as he sat down and explained why he hasn't really addressed the allegation.
"It's a terrifying thing to talk about," Ansari said. "There were times I felt really upset and humiliated and embarrassed, and ultimately I just felt terrible this person felt this way. But you know, after a year, how I feel about it is, I hope it was a step forward. It made me think about a lot, and I hope I've become a better person."
The "Master of None" star referenced a conversation he had with a friend who said the whole thing made him rethink every date he's been on. "If that has made not just me but other guys think about this," Ansari said. "And just be more thoughtful and aware and willing to go that extra mile, and make sure someone else is comfortable in that moment, that's a good thing."
"And I think it also just gave me perspective on my life," he added. "There was a moment where I was scared that I'd never be able to do this again."
Ansari recalled how at the end of every show, he would always tell the audience "Thanks so much!" but he realized he didn't really mean it. However, for the comic, the meaning has now definitely changed.
"But now, I really mean it. I mean it on a different level," Ansari said. "You canceled whatever you were supposed to do tonight, and you came out in the cold, and you waited in line...You did all this shit just to hear me talk for an hour and some change, and it means the world to me, so thank you so much."