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Aziz Ansari On The Importance Of Not Being “A Crazy Workaholic”

Knowing when to quit for the day is key. “You’ve got to be a person and do other stuff, or you’re not going to be inspired,” he says.

Aziz Ansari On The Importance Of Not Being “A Crazy Workaholic”
Laugh factory: To Aziz Ansari, a comic’s work is never finished. [Photos: Peter Ash Lee, Styling: Dana Covarrubias; Gooming: Asia Geiger at Art Department]

Nobody would accuse Aziz Ansari of slacking off. He is cowriting and starring in the semiautobiographical new Netflix sitcom Master of None, which will be available on November 6, and he’s also the coauthor of the best-selling sociological study Modern Romance. Plus, he’s been touring as a stand-up alongside Amy Schumer in the Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival. But his life isn’t all work. “I paint a picture of myself as this crazy workaholic, but I do think it’s important to have a well-rounded day,” Ansari says. “I like to eat, drink good wine, and smoke amazing weed.”

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Biggest productivity issue

“I waste an hour or two every day looking at mindless stuff on the Internet. I go down a wormhole from Google News or The New York Times. I’ll watch movie trailers and stuff like that. It’s like, ‘A 15-second video on Instagram of a guy with a light saber! Look at that!’ But I wrote a bit about that, so it did help in that way.”

Sleep schedule

“It’s hard when I’m doing stand-up. I may do three or four shows in a night, and the last one could be at 12:30 a.m. If people are laughing, I feed off that energy. I’m wired. I get home and I’m the most awake I could ever be. I try to fall asleep, but usually I just keep my girlfriend up, irritating her.”

Great advice

“A friend told me, ‘Don’t tell yourself you’re going to write for six hours. Tell yourself you’re going to write for an hour.’ If you really focus and write for an hour, that’s a lot.”

Productivity myth

“While we were writing [Master of None], we would work until 6 or 7 p.m., and then we’d be done. There are other writers’ rooms where people spend nights in the office. I can’t imagine you’re doing your best work then. You’ve got to be a person and do other stuff, or you’re not going to be inspired to write.”

Go-to motivator

“Fear that it’s all going to go away. The week before the Oddball Festival, I did a ton of stand-up shows. Why? I don’t want to tank up there. The other comics on the show are really funny. If I don’t come out really strong, I’m going to eat shit. That’s a pretty big motivator.”

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Quitting time

“With stand-up, you’re never quite done. If you’re a classical musician, you can go, ‘Okay, I can play that piece perfectly. I’m done with my work.’ With stand-up, the piece is constantly changing and evolving.”

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