On TV, he’s Tom Haverford, Parks and Recreation’s resident entrepreneurial dreamer. But Ansari, 30, is coming to that other small screen—the Web—as himself. His latest stand-up special, Buried Alive, will be released on Netflix on Nov. 1.
We recently caught up with the busy performer.
TIME: The tagline for Buried Alive is “30 comes at you fast.” What was your “Oh, man, I’m almost 30” moment?
ANSARI: It was a slow build. You start seeing your friends having kids, you start going to these weddings, you start realizing not that you’re getting old, but older.
You’ve been 30 for about half a year now. Is it really different from 29?
No, it doesn’t change. It’s all about how you conduct it in your own head. If you’re one of those people who likes to set up a clock for when you’re going to do different things in life, then, yeah, of course it’s scary. If you’re just like, ‘I’m going to take things as they come and play it by ear and not force anything,’ then you’re fine.
Did you have a clock set for things you wanted to do before 30?
I don’t think I really put any set goals like that but I’ve been pretty happy with what I’ve done before 30. Personally, I always thought it seemed like a bad idea. It always seemed like it didn’t make sense to be, like, ‘When I’m 32, that’s when I’ll get married.’ So does that mean if I meet someone when I’m 31, that’s the person? Just because they’re close in the timeline? That doesn’t seem like the smartest way to find someone to spend the rest of your life with.
But does being 30 now mean you’re a grownup?
I definitely feel more mature than I did five years ago.
What’s the most mature thing you’ve done recently?
I bought a house, which is pretty mature.
Wow! That’s really mature.
And I’m pretty indecisive, so it’s a big deal that I committed.
What about something immature?
Nothing out of the ordinary. I watch Saved by the Bell reruns on Netflix.
Everyone watches Saved by the Bell reruns? Have you done that?
Why do we do that? We’ve all seen them so many times! I went through to see if there were any episodes I couldn’t remember.
And were there?
Yeah, there was one. It was kind of an offensive episode. This is the summary: a plus-size girl wins a date with Zack, and it’s like, “Oh, no! What’s Zack gonna do?” He pretends he’s sick.
I actually remember that episode.
The moral is that if a plus-sized person wins a date with you, be nice to them for a night, at least, and then you’ll be all right.
Speaking of Netflix, is there anything that released Buried Alive on Netflix allows you to do that you couldn’t do otherwise?
Whenever I film the specials I don’t know where I’m going to release them — I paid for filming and everything and then afterward sold it to Netflix as a completed thing, so it doesn’t really affect the content. What it does allow that I like is that the special gets released everywhere in the world at the same time.
You have a book in the works about relationships. Does your material Buried Alive touch on that topic?
Buried Alive, the show that’s on Netflix, is about approaching 30 and fear of marriage and babies and fear of adulthood and where-do you meet someone you’re going to get married to. I’ve written another show that I’m going to tour next year that doesn’t have a title yet, and that’s really about modern relationships and what it means to try to find someone in this era. That became the jumping off point for the book. The book is a companion piece to that show that’s not a straight-up humor book but more like a Malcolm Gladwell, Freakonomics-style take on the subject that also has my humor. When I was writing the show, the new show, I would discuss things like, if you text a girl and you don’t hear back, why does that drive people crazy? What’s going on in our heads that makes that so agonizing? Has there been any research done about that? I’d look up stuff like that and there’d be nothing, and I’d be like, man, someone should do that research and write a book about it!
Will your fans get to be guinea pigs for that research?
I don’t know. We haven’t figured out if we’re going to use my fan base to get people to participate them or do traditional research.
Your blog is called Aziz Is Bored. I find it hard to believe you’re bored often.
You’ll see I don’t post on that website too much. Or Twitter or anything. I’m kind of letting all that fall to the side.
Was that a conscious decision or did it just happen?
I just didn’t do it anymore. It wasn’t a conscious thing. You have to prioritize things and it’s, like, do I want to spend time trying to think of jokes on Twitte? Or do I want to write a stand-up show?