February 13, 2019 12:45 pm

Aziz Ansari addresses sexual misconduct allegations for first time

Actor Aziz Ansari attends The 23rd Annual Critics' Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on January 11, 2018 in Santa Monica, California.

Christopher Polk/Getty Images for The Critics' Choice Awards
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Aziz Ansari said at a standup show Monday in New York that a sexual misconduct allegation was humiliating, but he hopes he’s become better since.

It was the 35-year-old actor’s first public discussion of the issue since a written statement in the immediate aftermath of a story in January 2018 on the website Babe.net in which an unidentified accuser wrote that Ansari acted improperly on a date.

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Ansari said he has thought a lot about the issue in the past year and hopes “I’ve become a better person.”

READ MORE: Aziz Ansari responds to sexual misconduct allegation: ‘I took her words to heart’

Vulture reports that Ansari told a crowd of about 200 at the Village Underground that it was a “terrifying” topic that made him feel “upset and humiliated and embarrassed,” and that ultimately he “just felt terrible this person felt this way.”

“But you know, after a year, how I feel about it is, I hope it was a step forward,” Ansari told the crowd. “It made me think about a lot, and I hope I’ve become a better person.”

Ansari recalled a conversation in which a friend told him that his allegations made him rethink every date he’s been on: “If that has made not just me but other guys think about this, and just be more thoughtful and aware and willing to go that extra mile, and make sure someone else is comfortable in that moment, that’s a good thing.”

“And I think it also just gave me perspective on my life,” Ansari added.

READ MORE: Aziz Ansari’s sexual misconduct allegation is more than just a ‘bad date’: expert

The comedian said that he was just grateful to be able to perform comedy for a living.

“There was a moment,” he said, “where I was scared that I’d never be able to do this again.”

He went on to share that at the end of his shows he yelled, “Thanks so much!” but he didn’t really mean it before the allegations came about.

“But now, I really mean it. I mean it on a different level,” he said. “You cancelled whatever you were supposed to do tonight, and you came out in the cold, and you waited in line, and you put your phone in a stupid pouch,” referring to pouches that are used at many stand-up shows to keep the audience off their cellphones.

He continued: “You did all this sh*t just to hear me talk for an hour and some change, and it means the world to me, so thank you so much.”

Ansari reportedly made a joke about someone on the street telling him they loved his Netflix show, only to realize the person was talking about Hasan Minhaj’s Netflix show, Patriot Act.

“‘Oh, no, Aziz, right?’ Yeah, yeah, that’s me. ‘Master of None!’ Yeah, yeah, that’s me. ‘Parks and Rec!’ Yeah, yeah, that’s me. ‘Treat yourself!’ Yeah, yeah, that’s me. ‘And you had the whole thing come out last year — sexual misconduct?’ No, no, no, no, no, no, that’s Hasan!”

READ MORE: Ashleigh Banfield, HLN host, has harsh words for Aziz Ansari’s accuser

In January 2018, a woman, identified as a 23-year-old photographer in an interview with Babe.net, said the date she went on with Ansari ended up “being by far the worst experience with a man I’ve ever had.”

She then described, in detail, Ansari’s attempts to have sex with her, despite her using “verbal and non-verbal cues to indicate how uncomfortable and distressed she was,” according to Babe.

The next day, the woman texted Ansari letting him know that she was upset with his behaviour that night.

Ansari released a statement following the accusations.

READ MORE: Ashleigh Banfield fuels feud with Babe.net reporter, reads her email on air

He said he apologized in 2017 when she told him about her discomfort during the sexual encounter in his apartment and said he believed it to be 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. I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said,” Ansari said in the statement.

“I continue to support the movement that is happening in our culture. It is necessary and long overdue,” Ansari added in the statement.

—With files from the Associated Press and Katie Dangerfield

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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