Aziz Ansari is back on the standup comedy circuit and is speaking out about the sexual misconduct allegations made against him last year.
In a "pop-up" comedy show in New York City Monday night, the "Master of None" creator and star addressed the topic seemingly for the first time on any stage.
"There were times I felt really upset and humiliated and embarrassed, and ultimately I just felt terrible this person felt this way," he said, according to Vulture's account.
“But you know, after a year, how I feel about it is, I hope it was a step forward,” Ansari said. “It made me think about a lot, and I hope I’ve become a better person.”
The allegation against him was published in January 2018 on Babe.net. A 23-year-old woman wrote that she'd been coerced into having sex with Ansari following a date.
The story elicited reactions ranging from "it was just a bad date" to condemnation as sexual misconduct. Ansari himself released a statement at the time confirming much of the woman's account and vowing his "support for the movement that is happening in our culture."
At Monday night's show, Ansari first broached the subject with a joke about a fan mistaking him for Hasan Minaj: "Oh, no, Aziz, right?’ 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!”
But then Ansari became serious and reflective, admitting he had feared for his career.
“There was a moment where I was scared that I’d never be able to do this again," he said, then recalled how he used to shout "Thanks so much" at the end of his shows but didn't really mean it.
"But now, I really mean it. I mean it on a different level," Ansari said, thanking the audience.
Ansari will embark on a 30-plus city comedy tour starting this spring.