In his new Netflix special, Aziz Ansari did not gloss over the sexual misconduct accusations against him that came to light last year.
Within minutes of “Right Now,” which was released on the streaming platform on Tuesday, the comedian told the audience he felt it was necessary to talk about the allegations, which appeared on the website babe in January 2018, during his comedy tour.
“There’s times I’ve felt scared, there’s times I’ve felt humiliated, there’s times I’ve felt embarrassed, but ultimately I just felt terrible that this person felt this way,” he said. “After a year or so, I just hope it was a step forward. It moved things forward for me, made me think about it a lot, I hope I’ve become a better person.”
The comedian recalled a conversation he had with a friend, who told him the incident made them reflect on every date they’d been on.
“I thought, ‘Wow. Well, that’s pretty incredible. It’s made not just me but other people be more thoughtful, and that’s a good thing,’” he said. “And that’s how I feel about it.”
Ansari was accused of sexual assault by a 23-year-old woman identified only as “Grace” in the article to protect her identity. She came forward with her story after seeing the comedian win Best Actor in a Television Comedy at the Golden Globes last year while wearing a pin supporting the anti-sexual harassment organization Time’s Up.
Grace alleged that the two met at a party and went back to the actor’s apartment that night, where Ansari initiated a sexual encounter. According to the woman, she felt pressured to continue their activity despite giving “verbal and non-verbal cues to indicate how uncomfortable and distressed she was.”
She said she texted Ansari after the experience to say “it may have seemed okay. But I didn’t feel good at all.”
“I’m so sad to hear this,” Ansari replied at the time, according to the article. “All I can say is, it would never be my intention to make you or anyone feel the way you described. Clearly I misread things in the moment and I’m truly sorry.”
After the piece went live, Ansari responded, confirming many details in the piece and saying he’d thought the encounter was “completely consensual.”
“It was true that everything did seem okay to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned,” he said in his statement. “I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said.”