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Originally published Sunday, June 24, 2012 at 5:31 AM

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Aziz Ansari, smooth talker from 'Parks,' brings stand-up to Seattle

Aziz Ansari, comedian and cast member of "Parks and Recreation" on NBC, will perform in Seattle on June 29, 2012.

Special to The Seattle Times

COMEDY PREVIEW

Aziz Ansari

7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, June 29, the Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., Seattle; $33.75 (877-784-4849 or www.stgpresents.org).
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While appearing at a fundraiser for President Obama in March, comedian Aziz Ansari found himself on the receiving end of a verbal jab.

"Malia is a big 'Parks and Recreation' fan," the president said, referring to his eldest daughter, "so having Aziz here is the only thing she thinks is worth me doing. I just want to remind him: I've got more Twitter followers than you, man."

Ansari, for the record, is no Twitter slouch: He has nearly 2 million followers (@azizansari), but he wears that taunt as a badge of honor.

"That was just so insane that he even knows I exist," Ansari said. "To get to meet the president was just so far beyond ... I can't really process how crazy it is. He was super-cool and I got a good bit out of it."

Gearing up for a Friday appearance at the Paramount Theatre, Ansari recently spoke by phone about his career and the recent success of his latest stand-up special, "Dangerously Delicious," which he self-produced and released on his website (www.azizansari.com) for the bargain price of $5 per download.

Audiences not familiar with his stand-up might know him as Tom Haverford, the smooth-talking ladies' man and bumbling entrepreneur on NBC's Emmy-nominated "Parks and Recreation," which will be back this fall for a fifth season.

In an ensemble cast, Ansari is a bit of a scene-stealer, but he has nothing but glowing praise for his fellow actors.

"Everyone is very nice and we all get along; it's really a plum gig," he said.

His character is a swaggering, cocky player, and Ansari is quick to point out he's not like Tom.

"Tom and I both like suits and hip-hop music, and the similarities kind of end there," Ansari said. "I'm confident, but that's way different than being cocky."

Much of that confidence comes from hours spent honing his craft.

"When I'm doing a theater show, I've worked these jokes out so hard and I know they work really well. You can't tell me that joke's not funny; I've done it a bunch of times, and I know it works."

For his latest tour, "Buried Alive," Ansari has worked up an hour of new material, much of it tested in small New York comedy clubs.

In "Dangerously Delicious," Ansari, born to Indian immigrants in South Carolina, talks about racism in the Deep South. (He also says, though, that you could "drive 40 minutes outside of L.A. or New York" and experience the same thing.)

"Certain parts of South Carolina can be pretty racist, but what these people forget is that the food there is delicious!" Ansari said. "... Growing up in South Carolina is kind of like, 'Did that guy just say the N-word? Oh, fried chicken and biscuits, never mind!'

"I hate racism, but I love a good biscuit."

Much of Ansari's older material was riffs on popular culture, his infatuation with R. Kelly, texting women and goofing on his oddball nephew Harris. But as he nears 30, he's beginning to change his perspective.

"This whole tour is all about a guy turning 30 or hitting adulthood," he said. "It's about being that age and realizing that this is the part of your life when a lot of people just start getting married and having kids. What do you do if you're not ready for that?

"Is it terrifying? Should it be?"

Jeff Albertson: 206-464-2304 or jalbertson@seattletimes.com

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