Aziz Ansari is making a comeback.

Over the last month, the comedian has started hosting “pop-up shows” in cities across the country. They’re billed under the title “Working Out New Material” with the intent of doing exactly that.

With only a few days’ notice, he’s sold out venues in Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Madison, Bennettsville, South Carolina, and most recently, Knoxville. They’re some of the first advertised stand-up sets Ansari has done since sexual harassment allegations were made against him in January by an anonymous 23-year-old photographer in a Babe.net article, which added his name to a long list of powerful men swept up in the #MeToo movement. Ansari subsequently shrank himself from the spotlight: no performances, no interviews, barely any paparazzi shots.

Ansari’s position in the constellation of Hollywood #MeToo stories is a complicated one. It happened on a date, while many of the other incidents happened under more professional guises. It’s one woman’s story, in contrast to the scores of victims who have shared stories about Harvey Weinstein and Charlie Rose. These details, however, don’t render Ansari’s accuser’s story or feelings any less valid. If anything, they warrant an even more nuanced conversation about enthusiastic consent and victim-blaming.

But so far, if anyone has gone to one of Ansari’s shows looking to gain clarity on his accusations, they haven’t found it.

Thursday night’s Knoxville show at the Tennessee Theatre was announced a week ago and just a few days after Louis C.K. made a surprise appearance at New York City’s Comedy Cellar. Tickets went for $42 and sold out quickly despite the short-notice. Par for Ansari’s previous “Working Out New Material” shows, the audience was warned that phones and smart watches would be locked away during the show. It’s a practice that’s become de rigueur at comedy shows to prevent jokes from hitting the internet and spoiling the experience of future audiences.

After brief sets from Wil Sylvince and Phil Hanley, Ansari made his way to the stage, wearing a T-shirt from Kanye West’s Yeezus tour, and was welcomed by roaring applause. A bit about staying off his own phone rolled seamlessly into jokes about how quickly and incisively the internet vilifies people — without leaving room for a nuanced conversation. He talked about Roseanne, the CEO of Starbucks, and the teen who was accused of cultural appropriation for wearing a Chinese qipao to prom.

At one point, he quizzes the audience on a new outrage he saw online: Pizza Hut is embroiled in scandal because some customers thought they were delivered a pizza with the pepperonis arranged in the shape of a swastika. But some people online think it looks more like a Star of David. Other people think it just looks like a regular pizza. He likens it to the Laurel/Yanny auditory illusion that went viral in May and encourages the audience to weigh in.

Clap if you saw a swastika. Clap if you saw a Star of David. Clap if you just saw a pizza. (There are no visual aids, he’s operating on the assumption that you know what he’s talking about.) At the end of the poll, Ansari reveals he made the whole thing up, but everyone who clapped chose to take a side anyway. It’s a believable premise, and the bit easily functions as an allegory for a variety of outrage greatest hits like The Dress, “fake news,” or even Ansari’s own experience with the Babe.net article.

To be clear, there is no “Babe.net,” no “#MeToo,” no “Louis C.K.” no “Harvey Weinstein” in this show. The majority of Ansari’s Knoxville material meditated on race in America, especially his own experiences as an Indian actor in Hollywood — getting mistaken for Kumail Nanjiani, his take on The Problem With Apu, having difficulties casting a younger version of himself for Master Of None, and the realities of dating as part of a mixed race couple in the public eye.

Ansari goes on to explain that sometimes his girlfriend doesn’t pick up on racist microaggressions because she’s a white woman from Denmark. He had to explain to her why publications refer to her as “Becky.” When someone yells at them on the street that she probably gets a lot of free taxi rides with him as her boyfriend, she takes it to be a comment on her being perceived as a gold digger, only dating him for his wealth. But Ansari explains to her that the man is using the stereotype that Indian people are taxi drivers to make fun of him.

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44 Comments

SAMZIRRA · September 9, 2018 at 5:23 pm

Why should he?

SAMZIRRA · September 9, 2018 at 5:24 pm

This tub thinks she's cute and funny and making a good point. Not in this case.

MrNegativity · September 9, 2018 at 5:24 pm

Fat

Yan Thériault · September 9, 2018 at 5:25 pm

You guys have reached an all time low.

Zerimor 6ren · September 9, 2018 at 5:26 pm

He isn't allowed to be a person anymore, on any platform he is on he should grovel and beg forgiveness amiright?

Zebby Clark · September 9, 2018 at 5:27 pm

He didn’t do anything… it was a bad date. Really vice

3IRD · September 9, 2018 at 5:27 pm

Lol

Chip Chipperson · September 9, 2018 at 5:28 pm

Best example of repercussions from the poem "First they came". The left consume their own.

Rotchild Francois Jr · September 9, 2018 at 5:28 pm

The text in the description should have been narrated in the video, I'm sure some viewers had no idea what issue the people in the video were addressing.

pksangavaram · September 9, 2018 at 5:28 pm

He made a massive error. He apologized. Is it equal in the sense that his name was mentioned and his career has suffered and her name was not mentioned, but her mental health has been compromised by her date with him? I don’t know. All I do know, is that his fake feminist view has gone. Can he be funny by not being “that safe nerdy quirky cool Indian friend “? We will see.

Martin Gomez · September 9, 2018 at 5:28 pm

Aziz don’t love these lying thots

Tact. · September 9, 2018 at 5:29 pm

But he didn't do anything wrong…..

Juan Jaramillo · September 9, 2018 at 5:29 pm

I sincerely thought that was TJ Miller

comeo325 · September 9, 2018 at 5:32 pm

In an age where "HAHA TRUMP IS ORANGE AND HES PUTINS WIFE LOL" is considered comedy, I'm not at all surprised by people wanting comics to "address" unfunny shit on stage.

SOPHIA FILMS · September 9, 2018 at 5:32 pm

muslim privilege

ro pro · September 9, 2018 at 5:32 pm

Wow, Aziz's male fans appear to be 100% betas.

Griff · September 9, 2018 at 5:32 pm

This may be the worst vice video I’ve ever seen.

Mike McCarthy · September 9, 2018 at 5:32 pm

Vice , you disappoint me.

JR R · September 9, 2018 at 5:34 pm

Vice will ruin everything good in the world.

Jairo Herrera · September 9, 2018 at 5:34 pm

The audience shouldn't have to talk about the past because he shouldn't be remembered by that event despite those accusations being not factual

RLVMIX Ramón L. Vallés · September 9, 2018 at 5:35 pm

Whyyyyyyyyy?

Chosen One · September 9, 2018 at 5:37 pm

More shit stiring from Vice News!1

krakalakin4u2 · September 9, 2018 at 5:37 pm

Why do men have such a problem asking for consent? I mean this whole thing could have been avoided if he had just asked her what she wanted and then LISTENED and RESPECTED what she said. It’s not a woman’s job to fight off a grabby creep all night.

rectec · September 9, 2018 at 5:37 pm

Being biologically wired for sex and having urges is evil and you should hate yourself, unless you're a woman of course.

Maxwell Gay · September 9, 2018 at 5:38 pm

This isn’t even news.

EMAN67 (Movies,politics,commentary) · September 9, 2018 at 5:38 pm

He didn't do anything wrong. Wtf!!!

Jairo Herrera · September 9, 2018 at 5:38 pm

I wonder if Vice news' intention is to try to shame him and his audience by putting Aziz down despite the fact he was found innocent in a false accusation. In otherwords, they are trying to bring back this topic to life again.

EMAN67 (Movies,politics,commentary) · September 9, 2018 at 5:39 pm

This is total bullshit what did he do????

Operation Blueism · September 9, 2018 at 5:40 pm

#fuckvicenews

J blaze · September 9, 2018 at 5:40 pm

Yeah some context on wtf the videos le a bit would help

Ionwerks · September 9, 2018 at 5:40 pm

Nothing to address, he-said, she-said and in the end nothing more than a bad date where both parties were after something the other wasn't. Pretending otherwise, however doggedly, won't make it true and the attempts just make most people feminism-averse – feel free to keep digging that hole though.

gary sage · September 9, 2018 at 5:42 pm

What brain dead fans he has

Luke Osborne · September 9, 2018 at 5:42 pm

He hasn't done anything wrong but………

krakalakin4u2 · September 9, 2018 at 5:42 pm

In before all the butthurt losers start whining about “but He didn’t doooo anyyythinnng” as if being a grabby creep to a woman you don’t know after she’s told you to stop is perfectly acceptable.

Monkeyman · September 9, 2018 at 5:42 pm

Im still confused, is this about that bad date and the consensual sex he had with some random last year and she went on national television attempting to expose him for it ? When the report of that network even told her to not use to use the #MeToo because there are actually people who were being sexually harassed, that just sounds like a bad date.
Which her claim was he didn’t understand her she wanted to take thing slow even though she gave him OK and still not tell otherwise while they were doing it. Like he Professor X something.😒😒

Carter · September 9, 2018 at 5:43 pm

Aziz stuck his fingers down my throat. Nasty f*cker!

The Angry Dudeist · September 9, 2018 at 5:43 pm

Dont strain yourself talking about shitty things women do…
This guy apologized, what else is there to do?
A bunch of leeches trying to make money off of this shit

Killacamfoo O.G. · September 9, 2018 at 5:44 pm

It was HER problem. Not his.

This Awesome Channel · September 9, 2018 at 5:44 pm

Hello! I had a date this week and guess what? I brought my car, he brought his car, we ate, had a fantastic date and then we went our separate ways at the end! And that’s what you do ladies!!

Dont Look At Me · September 9, 2018 at 5:45 pm

Indians are notorious for being womanizing and rapists. Not shocked

Cole McTavish · September 9, 2018 at 5:45 pm

Wtf Vice… She had a bad date.

JP McGlone · September 9, 2018 at 5:45 pm

He has no reason to be sorry or to apologize

D.B Copper · September 9, 2018 at 5:47 pm

Slow news day like shit !!!

William Hale · September 9, 2018 at 5:47 pm

It was just a bad date, as simple as that. She just made a big deal out of it. Nothing that happened in his apartment was out of ordinary. It was just a regular guy trying to get laid with his date. What's wrong with that?!?!?! She shouldn't have gone to his apartment in the first place if she didn't want those events to unfold one by one.

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