Aziz Ansari, best known for playing Tom Haverford on “Parks and Recreation,” is now starring in his own Netflix series, “Master of None.” The series, co-created with Alan Yang, follows the personal and professional life of Dev (Ansari), a 30-year-old actor in New York who has trouble deciding what he wants to eat, much less what he wants to do with his life. Ansari answered a few questions about his show:
Is the show based on your past comedy work or new ideas for the show?
Aziz Ansari: I would say more the latter. There are things I’m interested in that I talk about in my stand-up that, kind of, weave its way into the show. It’s not like, oh, completely based on the stand-up, I don’t think. There are definitely ideas I was able to explore on the show that I wasn’t able to do with the stand-up and things like that. So, yeah. I would say maybe a blend of the both.
Is it also based on your book “Modern Romance”?
There’s some episodes that deal with relationships and things. But it’s not based on the book, really. There’s experiences I had doing the book that definitely informed some episodes, but not in the way you’d think. Like, we wrote this whole episode about me called “Old People,” and it’s me hanging out with this grandma for the whole episode, and that was kinda based on an experience I had where when I was doing the book.
Are there other actors or characters that will be recurring in every episode?
A: When we were writing the show, me and Alan were talking about how “Parks” had such a big ensemble, and I wasn’t in the writers’ room for “Parks,” but I imagine having stories for every single character every episode was pretty hard. Alan and I decided early on let’s have the idea, kind of, drive whatever cast is in there. In this story, if it helps to have this person, this person will bring him in, and if not, we just won’t see him that episode.
How did you pick the title?
Coming up with a title is so hard. For months we were batting around ideas, and we never liked one. And I think I pitched “Master of None” at one point. Then later on, Netflix was like, “Guys, we kind of need a title somewhat soon.” We finished shooting all the episodes and still didn’t have a title. Alan was like, “I like ‘Master of None.'” “What? You do? I like that one.” And that’s how we landed on it.
How have to picked projects over the years?
I tried to do things that I would watch and that I would enjoy, and only do things I would be really proud of. I think I noticed from doing “Parks,” it’s like, oh, the fans of “Parks” are really cool people, smart, funny people, and I feel if you do things that are like that, those are the kind of fans you attract.
Why this show for Netflix?
Me and Alan saw this as just a huge opportunity. We were getting this chance to do 10 episodes of this show. Really do whatever we wanted as long as it was funny and interesting. And so we really pushed outside to make stuff that we’re really proud of and thought were interesting stories that we couldn’t tell elsewhere. I think as far as just the overall show, this is the first thing I’ve done where, acting-wise, it’s felt as personal to me as stand-up. “Parks,” you know, I was playing a character named Tom, and I was working in a parks department. It’s not really related to me in my life.