Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Aziz Ansari: From 'Human Giant' To MTV Movie Awards Host

Three years after Aziz Ansari got his start on MTV's "Human Giant" — using that sketch show as a launching pad to juicy movie roles, a co-starring gig in NBC's "Parks & Recreation" and his own Comedy Central stand-up special — the 27-year-old funnyman is returning to the channel to host the 2010 MTV Movie Awards. The high-profile gig could very well make the comedian a household name.

Ansari got his start working the New York stand-up circuit, which he first entered on a whim at the suggestion of some NYU college friends. Those performances led to regular appearances at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, an improv mecca in Manhattan that has helped launch the careers of "Saturday Night Live" performers. It wasn't too long before he joined forces with Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer to form the improv troupe Human Giant.

Their self-titled comedy show premiered on MTV in spring 2007. Over its two-season run, the group busted out a slew of classic sketches: "Shutterbugs," about struggling execs in the ruthless world of a child talent agency; a clip in which Ansari declares that, as the old joke goes, the hardest thing about learning how to rollerblade is telling your parents you're gay; and a mock news segment investigating the ridiculous and painful acts some people endure to become viral-video stars.

Ansari's true gift proved to be the contrast between his sweet, slightly nerdish everyman appearance and the raw, macho-man declarations he often spouted. It was simply so unexpected, and it landed him a prime role alongside Amy Poehler in "Parks & Rec," where his scenes were consistently the funniest during the show's six-episode first-season run.

Season two of the NBC series has seen Ansari's character, a low-level functionary in local government, receiving more and more screen time. Various plot points have had him attempting to raise funds to become a nightclub owner and dealing with the revelation that his marriage was a sham to get his wife a green card.

Perhaps after watching Judd Apatow's "Funny People" and the movie's viral videos, the show's writers had witnessed what Ansari could pull off when given the chance. His creation of the unforgettable Randy — or "Raaaaaaaandy!," as he likes to scream — was nothing short of brilliant. He's a foul-mouthed sexual braggart and stand-up comedian who tells stories of hot-tub hookups and over-the-top macho antics. Randy stole a handful of the film's scenes and became a breakout Internet star based on a mockumentary. Apatow has even talked about the possibility of giving Randy a movie of his own.

Ansari's character popped up again this month on Funny or Die in a bit that had him accusing Justin Bieber of stealing the song that has become the teen's hit "Baby." In the clip, an actor impersonating Bieber ends up shooting Randy in the knee, trashing his studio and leaving a warning: "Don't f--- with the Bieb!!!"

Pitch-perfect both in its outrageous laughs and its focus on pop culture's flavor of the moment, the video became a viral sensation. It's the sort of comedy we're hoping to see more of in 2010 on Ansari's biggest platform to date: the MTV Movie Awards.

Don't miss the 2010 MTV Movie Awards, airing live from Los Angeles on Sunday, June 6, at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

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