Aziz Ansari Opens Up About Past Inappropriate Sexual Behavior Allegation: 'I Hope I've Become a Better Person'

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Aziz Ansari at 2018 Golden Globes
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Aziz Ansari is opening up after a year of reflecting on being accused of inappropriate sexual behavior.

The 35-year-old comedian put on an intimate pop-up show in New York City on Monday at the Village Underground where no cell phones were allowed, and at one point during the show, talked about making headlines last January when an anonymous woman accused him of "aggressive" sexual behavior that left her feeling "violated." Vulture reports that Ansari was somber as he talked about the incident, and was also emotional.

“It’s a terrifying thing to talk about," Ansari said, via the outlet. “There were times I felt really upset and humiliated and embarrassed, and ultimately I just felt terrible this person felt this way. But you know, after a year, how I feel about it is, I hope it was a step forward. It made me think about a lot, and I hope I’ve become a better person.”

"If that has made not just me but other guys think about this, and just be more thoughtful and aware and willing to go that extra mile, and make sure someone else is comfortable in that moment, that’s a good thing," he continued. 

Ansari said the incident changed his life, and sincerely thanked the audience for coming out to see him. 

“There was a moment where I was scared that I’d never be able to do this again," he admitted. “ ... You canceled whatever you were supposed to do tonight, and you came out in the cold, and you waited in line, and you put your phone in a stupid pouch. You did all this s**t just to hear me talk for an hour and some change, and it means the world to me, so thank you so much.”

Last January, an anonymous woman shared her story with the website Babe.net, and claimed that during a date in September 2017 with the Master of None star, she gave verbal and non-verbal cues that she no longer wished to engage in sexual activity, which Ansari allegedly "ignored." The woman, a 23-year-old photographer, also said she "felt really pressured" to engage in further sexual activity. 

In a statement at the time, Ansari said their sexual activity "by all indications was completely consensual," and noted that he was "surprised and concerned" when she texted him afterwards that she felt uncomfortable. 

"In September of last year, I met a woman at a party," Ansari said. "We exchanged numbers. We texted back and forth and eventually went on a date. We went out to dinner, and afterwards we ended up engaging in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual."
 
"The next day, I got a text from her saying that although 'it may have seemed OK,' upon further reflection, she felt uncomfortable," the statement continued. "It was true that everything did seem OK to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned. I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said. I continue to support the movement that is happening in our culture. It is necessary and long overdue."

Last Feburary, Ansari's friend and fellow comedian, Amy Schumer, candidly talked about the allegation during her appearance on The Katie Couric Podcast.

“I don’t think anyone wants to see Aziz’s career ruined or his life ruined or anything like that, but that’s where people’s minds go,” Schumer said. “They go, ‘Does he deserve this?’ And it’s really not about that. I think it’s about expressing and showing women that that behavior is not OK and not only can you leave, but you need to leave. Because then the women who come after you, you’re leaving a mark for them too.”

“If you have a doctor that makes you uncomfortable, or you get a massage, or you have a date with someone and they coerce you in a situation like the Aziz one, I don’t think there’s any sort of criminal charge, but I think that it’s good for everybody to learn that that behavior’s not acceptable,” she continued. “It’s not a crime, but it’s not cool. And it can still really mess with a woman.”

Last May, Ansari returned to the stage to perform multiple comedy sets in NYC after months of laying low -- skipping the 2018 SAG Awards despite being nominated -- though he didn't discuss the allegation.

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