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TV Goodness Q&A: Aziz Ansari Talks About His Netflix Comedy Special Buried Alive [INTERVIEW] 

Photo Credit: Terry Richardson/Netflix
Photo Credit: Terry Richardson/Netflix

I’ve been a fan of Aziz Ansari since he first appeared on my television screen on NBC’s Parks and Recreation. I love his brand of humor and I was very excited to hear he was doing an exclusive stand-up comedy special for Netflix. In Buried Alive, he talks about pending adulthood, kids and love in today’s crazy world. Ansari also takes aim at our fixation with MTV’s fascination with teen moms and homophobic fast-food chains. Below, Ansari chats about how his comedy has evolved, how his philosophy on relationships and children has changed and why he chose Netflix for this project.

In your own words, what is the show about?

Aziz Ansari: “Buried Alive is about that time when you start to grapple with the gravity of the adult world – love, marriage, babies and more. Do I really have to deal with all that now? Are my ding-dong friends really getting married and having their own children? I couldn’t imagine having a kid right now. After this, I’m gonna drink an apple juice and watch Jurassic Park – if that’s a guy that’s supposed to be ready to be a father, I’m very concerned. That’s what Buried Alive is about.”

How does stand-up satisfy you in ways that differ from acting?

Aziz: “I enjoy acting, but there is something about the purity of stand-up, just being one person talking into a microphone sharing their ideas and thoughts, that is very special. In acting, you’re part of a big team and you’re all working on this film or TV show, but stand-up is a very singular art form that really lets you do whatever you want.”

You discuss relationships from all sorts of different angles – marrying high-school sweethearts, how long you should know someone before getting married, gay marriage, arranged marriages, online dating. I know you’re working on a book about relationships in the digital age. It’s an intrinsically interesting subject, of course, but what aspects of pursuing romance do you find particularly fascinating?

Aziz: “Three years ago, I was at a bar with a friend and two girls I hadn’t met before. I suggested to the group that we go to another bar that night and one of those girls hooked up with a dude she met at the bar. Now, three years later, those two people who hooked up at that bar are engaged and are probably one day going to have a kid. That kid, that human life, will exist partially because dumb-dumb Aziz just happened to say, ‘Hey, let’s go to that bar on 7th Street.’ That’s the most fascinating, insane thing in the world to me. Buried Alive is all about how I’m scared of settling down and just want to stay young and keep having fun. But, weirdly, after Buried Alive, I just got sick of going out and drinking and dating. I decided I kind of did want to settle down. What I realized, though, [is] the process of finding that person has become extremely different in recent times because of technology. So the next show, which is untitled, has been about that – modern courtship. The goal with that show is not just jokes about Instagram or whatever, it’s about how technology is making a deeper change in how we connect with each other and how we treat people.”

How is Aziz Ansari: Buried Alive different than any other show you have done?

Aziz: “The other specials I’ve done have been more random and just a collection of bits. This one is a lot more cohesive and I talk about bigger ideas than what I’ve done in the past. Once I started talking about this whole fear of adulthood theme, I realized I found something that a lot of people connected with and was a totally different subject matter than people had been used to seeing me tackle before. My favorite artists are ones that constantly evolve what they do, but still maintain some essence that keeps what they do special and unique to them. I hope that’s what Buried Alive accomplishes for me.”

What do you hope viewers will take away from this special?

Aziz: “I hope someone that’s my age and hitting this point in life realizes they aren’t the only ones that are terrified.”

Describe the effect that turning 30 had on you. You talk about friends who are suddenly getting serious about their lives – did turning 30 make you feel like you had to become “mature” in any fashion?

Aziz: “Well, that’s the whole dilemma. I am 30, but I don’t feel like I’m anywhere near a position in life where I am ready to get married or have a kid. If I had a kid right now, I’d be so worried. How am I gonna tour and raise a kid? I’m a grown man that still occasionally eats Gushers fruit snacks. I can’t have my own kid yet. That said, I do feel more mature than I did at 25 and feel like I’m grown as a person, but I still am not ready to be a full on adult with the responsibilities of a family.”

Have any of your friends given you a reason for having children that you consider wise and reasonable and that seems worth the loss of the freedom they’re sacrificing? (Maybe so they can send you photos of their kids and pretend they’re the first people to ever experience the miracle of life?)

Aziz: “There is surely the unexplainable joy to have something in your life you love and care that much for. I can’t begin to even fathom what that’s like, but it seems amazing and something that I want to be a part of my life at some point, but I just don’t know when or how.”

Can you ever imagine having children, or do you think your material on parenthood has precluded that, given that any prospective kids would eventually see you dumping on parenthood and think that’s how you feel about them, that they’re nothing but a burden?

Aziz: “Ouch. I hope I don’t come off that harsh on kids. I really just think it’s more of a scary decision and I don’t see how people are so casual about it. How does pretty much every couple know they are having a kid? Really, you’re that sure you can do it? That you want it? Part of me admires that decisiveness. I don’t think kids are a burden; I just think it’s a huge commitment and monumental life change, and those kind of things are scary to wrap my head around.”

Why did you choose Netflix for this special?

Aziz: “I had done all three release methods with my last special Dangerously Delicious – direct download, then a few months later, cable, then a few months after, Netflix. Once it debuted on Netflix, it was clear that so many people were discovering the special and it became clear that was how most people preferred me to release my material. Everyone seems to find it to be the most convenient way to watch new TV shows and movies, so it was a pretty easy decision.”

How do you feel about being a part of this new platform of original programming?

Aziz: “Clearly, whoever is making those decisions has done a great job and made some smart moves. I’m flattered to be part of the same group of programming.”

Let’s say a woman is interested in you – what’s the best way for her to capture your attention?

Aziz: “‘Excuse me sir, your fly is down.’ This will work, cause usually my fly is down and I appreciate the concern.”

Buried Alive premieres Friday, November 1st at 12:01 am on Netflix.

Edited for space and content.

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