Anyone hoping Aziz Ansari would address the controversy that cooled down his hot streak will have to wait a little longer.
In his debut Monday at Acme Comedy Co. — the first of at least six pop-up performances in the Twin Cities this week — Ansari all but ignored accusations of sexual misconduct leveled at him in January by an anonymous writer.
The closest he came during his well received set were bits in which he fumed about recently “woke” people going overboard to be politically correct, as if they were players in a new version of Candy Crush in which points were only allotted to those who could prove they did something to further equality before bedtime.
Not that the Asian-American comic shied away from thorny issues. Much of his new material dealt with race: Being heckled on the streets of New York for dating a white woman. The Starbucks incident in which a manager called police to remove two black customers. Being mistaken for Kumail Nanjiani, the star and creator of “The Big Sick.”
“I messaged Kumail at one point and told him it [the movie] must be great because I’m getting a lot of compliments,” Ansari said.
At one point he urged the few people of color in the audience to take the time to call the cops on some white people, if only to watch the cops knock down their doors and bust them for stealing Netflix.
“White people, some of you may have to take a little hit on this one,” he said.
Sporting a leather jacket and sipping on what appeared to be a glass of whiskey, Ansari was nothing but cool and confident, even as some have argued that feminists should go nowhere near one of his shows. In a January story published on Babe.net, an anonymous writer described a date in September 2017 in which Ansari pressured her into having sex and made her feel violated.
Ansari, who had been a public supporter of the #MeToo movement, quickly responded that he took her concerns to heart but said that he believes all sexual activity between them had been consensual. He all but disappeared from public appearances, leaving the future of his award-winning series “Master of None” unclear.
Early last month, he began performing again, often without much advance notice. This week’s appearances were announced Saturday and sold out within six hours. Even before the early show could start Monday, at least 30 people with tickets to the late-night set were already lined up at the front desk to secure primo seats.
The only time Ansari seemed out of his element is whenever he had to adjust to performing in Minnesota. Early on, he asked for help in nailing a local accent — without much success. He also seemed completely unfamiliar with the term “Minnesota Nice.” An audience member explained that if there is just one appetizer left at a restaurant, no one around here will take it.
“So all over Minnesota, there are a bunch of plates with just one jalapeño popper on it?” Ansari responded.