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Aziz Ansari Talks About New NBC Series 'Parks And Recreation'

March 23rd, 2009 10:03am EDT
Parks and RecreationIt may be a terrible thing to be fired by Dr. Cox on Scrubs but Aziz Ansari knows how to rebound. Aziz was nice enough to join us and discuss his time on Scrubs and his new show, Parks and Recreation in which he plays a "cynical" character working with Amy Poehler.

Mike: So we know Parks and Recreation is not an Office spin-off, but, those early rumors were there. A lot of people involved say it was never intended to be a spin-off. Do you have any idea how those rumors started?

Aziz: When I first met with Greg Daniels and Mike Schur, the executive producers, they told me the show was either going to be a spinoff of The Office or a totally different concept shot in the same style. I guess originally the plan was to do a spinoff, but they liked the idea of Parks and Recreation and went with that.

Mike: Regardless, that was good marketing. It's almost always referred to in the media not as "from the creators of the Office" but as "The non-Office spin-off" which almost connects it, even though it's not connected. That is a good show to be associated with.

Aziz: It is! I don't think it was a cold and calculated marketing move though.

Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation - © NBC Universal, Inc.




Mike: How would you describe your character without using the word cynical?

Aziz: He's a huge prick.

Mike: Ha! How would you compare Leslie Knope to Michael Scott?

Aziz: Leslie has a sense of ambition and determination that you don't really see in Michael Scott. Also, Leslie is played by Amy Poehler and Michael is played by Steve Carrell.

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Mike: Where is "Parks and Recreation" filming at? As a native Midwesterner (Missouri, not Indiana) I've been impressed by the promos. It does look very "Midwestish."

Aziz: We are shooting in LA. One cool thing is we have the award winning set dressing team from Mad Men and they are amazing. If you spot anything in our offices that doesn't belong in Indiana, the head of the department, Dan, will come to your house and personally apologize. However, I must say, I was watching Mad Men today and if you look closely in Roger Sterling's office, you can see a Metallica poster. Huge goof on their part.

Mike: Michael Schur is one of the writers/producers to come over from The Office. Any chance we will see a 'Mose' Haverford?

Aziz: I would love to get Mike on camera on this show. I'll see if I can push it.

Mike: I was really enjoying your character on Scrubs. Actually, I was enjoying him so much I was a bit pissed when he wouldn't stop texting because I didn't want him to get fired. But, he became Dr. Cox's first victim. What was the Scrubs set like vs. Parks and Recreation?

Aziz: I'd say the Scrubs set was way more "hospital-ish" and this set is more "parks and recreation department-ish." Zach Braff is also not around nearly as much on Parks and Recreation. (Both sets are a delight with extremely hard working, nice, and talented cast and crew).

Mike: Did you have any scenes with Rashida in I Love You, Man?

Aziz: No, but I've had a great time working with her on this show. Tom basically hits on her character, Ann, nonstop in the sleaziest ways imaginable. It's super fun.

Mike: Also, You are responsible for Bret and Jermaine learning how to "flip the bird" on Flight of the Conchords. That looks like an interesting show to work on.

Aziz: Bret and Jemaine are as nice and friendly as you think they are. I loved working with them. We'd been friends for a while and I was so happy they got their show and to be able to be a part of it was really fun.

Mike: How do you like living in L.A. vs New York. Living in New York I'm not sure I could adjust. I'm sure the weather helps. Do you miss it here?

Aziz: I do. I still manage to get back to NY every now and then. The things I miss most are Shake Shack, Momofuku Ssam, and seeing my friends.

Mike: How did you get involved in stand-up in New York? What was it like going on stage for your first gig?

Aziz: Some friends told me I should try it and I did. I was pretty scared, but I had a lot of friends there who were very supportive (ie: laughing at mediocre to terrible material because they are my friends). People who are going to try standup always email me and sound so stressed about their first show. The truth is, it doesn't matter at all. You just need to do standup constantly and get better. Nothing is decided by your first show, at all.

Mike: How are you enjoying the Twitter revolution?

Aziz: I hate to say it, but I'm pretty into Twitter. I always text dumb jokes to my friends and now with Twitter I can annoy thousands of people with it.

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Click here to read our interview with Amy Poehler about 'Parks and Recreation'

Mike Ryan
"Mike's Pulse" is a column written by transplanted Midwesterner and current New Yorker Mike Ryan. For any compliments or complaints -- preferably the former -- you may contact Mike directly at miker@starpulse.com
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