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Aziz Ansari Discusses FUNNY PEOPLE And Raaaaaaaandy With Mr. Beaks!

While Aziz Ansari may not get quite enough screen time in Judd Apatow's FUNNY PEOPLE to steal the film (he only turns up in a few scenes), his Randy character has certainly dominated the picture's ambitious viral marketing push. And for good reason. A hyperactive, sex-obsessed comic whose set is so meticulously choreographed he needs his own DJ, Randy (or "Raaaaaaaandy!") is an uproarious parody of everything that's wrong with stand-up today: he's loud in lieu of clever, rehearsed rather than real, conceited instead of engaging. Most of his material revolves around getting his dick sucked. The rest of it is centered on eating pussy. Go ahead and scoff, but Wodehouse built a career around this shit. Though Randy seems to be an amalgam of hack comedians past and present, Ansari is convincing when he says the character is largely a hypothetical. Regardless of his origins, there's no disputing the fact that Randy kills every time Ansari trots him out in front of a real-life audience. Perhaps the joke is on us for howling at material that'd be loathsome in the hands of a less skilled comic, but there's a precision (and an overkill) to Randy's set that could never be matched by some frat-boy douchebag with a microphone. If Dave Chappelle would've spent a month or two honing his Reggie Warrington act from THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, it might've been as hilarious and detailed as what Ansari's done with Randy. Not that any of this is surprising. If you've ever watched his work on HUMAN GIANT (the sketch comedy troupe he co-founded with Paul Scheer and Rob Huebel), or caught an episode of PARKS & RECREATION, you know that Ansari is a very bad man. He's also got a stand-up special for Comedy Central on the way, which will feature a ten-minute appearance from Randy (replete with dancers and "money cannons"). If this is Ansari's breakout moment (and with Apatow talking up a Randy movie, it very well could be), he's more than earned it.

Mr. Beaks: Is Randy just a composite of a lot of comedians you've seen over the years?

Aziz Ansari: People who've seen the documentary think it's got to be this person or that person. I think the biggest influence was that I was thinking "What if Soulja Boy did stand-up comedy?" And I think he'd be like Randy. He'd have a DJ, he'd have a dance, and it'd be really over the top sex material like that. That was the inspiration for the vibe of Randy. And I guess there are hints of other people. It's like if some kid just saw like a Def Jam Comedy show, and said, "Oh, I can do stand-up comedy! All I have to do is talk about pussy and jump up and down!" But I don't think it's a dig at any one person in particular.

Beaks: The thing I like about Randy is that he doesn't really tell jokes per se.

Ansari: I think they're jokes. Those audiences are really laughing. You can't just say anything and get a roomful of people to laugh like that. There are structured jokes. It's just done to death with jumping up and down, and yelling and stuff. As far as the idea behind the jokes, it does have to resonate in some way to get people to laugh.

Beaks: And that's the thing: Randy kills! Even though we're in on the joke that this guy is loud and obnoxious and seems to be the epitome of everything that's wrong with stand-up comedy, we're still laughing our asses off.

Ansari: Yeah, I think it still has to be funny on some level. You can't just go up there and scream, "I was eating pussy today!!!" (Laughs) Although, wait a minute, that is pretty funny.

Beaks: (Laughing) Did you work on the character in clubs before you did that big show in January?

Ansari: You know, I've been doing stand-up for maybe eight years, and when we were doing the scenes with Randy, it was before we shot the stand-up scenes. So I was like, "Oh, you know, when I do the stand-up, I shouldn't do it as myself. Randy is much different than me, so his stand-up would be much different." So I started doing some shows where I tried to do how I though Randy would do stand-up. I did my material, but then Randy'd it up a little to kind of get a feel for the character. But then I decided I should write some material for Randy, and that's when I started writing the hot tub joke or having to take a shit before sex - all of that stupid stuff. By the time we were filming [the concert], I had a whole ten-minute Randy set.

Beaks: Was stand-up something you were always interested in?

Ansari: Back when I was in college, some friends were like, "You should try to do stand-up." So I did, had a good time, and kept at it while I was in college in New York. And I've been doing it ever since.

Beaks: It's so tough starting in New York or L.A. You have to fight for stage time and do all of those "bringer shows".

Ansari: Yeah, it's pretty bad. But I just kept at it.

Beaks: So is this Comedy Central special going to be all Randy?

Ansari: No, it's like an hour special. I do a seven or ten minute chunk of Randy in the middle. Actually, it's not in the film, but I did a scene where I was talking to Sandler about what a Randy special would be like, and that's what we made that chunk of the special like. During the Randy segment, I come out wearing all sequins, and this huge sign drops down saying "RAAAAAAAANDY!" There's smoke machine and dancers and money starts falling on the audience. It's really pretty crazy. It was really fun to shoot. I think it'll be a cool part of the special.

Beaks: "Money cannons", right?

Ansari: Yeah, yeah. (Laughs) I'm pretty psyched about it.

Beaks: Did you have to clean up your material at all for Comedy Central?

Ansari: No, they put it out on DVD. They have that "Secret Stash" that they air uncensored, and when they air it during the day it gets bleeped or whatever. But the one thing in the Randy set they didn't want me to do was... (Laughs) they were like, "Can we take out all of the jokes about him getting blow jobs and eating pussy?" They re-run those shows during the day, and they can't even run [those jokes] bleeped because they're still dirty. So I did this thing where I say, "Hey, y'all! This next Randy joke is a little too dirty for the daytime version. So when I talk about eating pizza, you know what I really mean!" (Laughs) So I did the joke like, "I'm just swimming around lookingforthepizza, lookingforthepizza, lookingforthepizza..." It sounds like I'm doing a joke about eating some girl's piece of pizza in a hot tub. That'll be on the daytime version, but it'll be [dirty] on the DVD.

Beaks: Who are your major influences in comedy?

Ansari: The people I watch the most now are Patton Oswalt and Louis C.K. They're probably my two biggest influences as far as people who around now. As far as when I was in high school, I really loved the Chris Rock specials. And, obviously, guys like Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, etc.

Beaks: Have you and the other Human Giant guys talked about maybe doing a movie together?

Ansari: Yeah, we've talked about stuff like that. I'm definitely trying to write some stuff for myself. We don't have anything firm in the mix, but we've definitely tossed around ideas and stuff, and I'm sure that'll get going whenever we get some time to put it together. If we did a Human Giant movie, it probably wouldn't be a sketch movie; it would probably be a whole narrative movie.

Beaks: You were saying that you had a few scenes cut from FUNNY PEOPLE?

Ansari: There was that once scene with Sandler at the end that'll be on the DVD.

Beaks: Were you doing a lot of riffing with Sandler in that scene?

Ansari: Sure. We really developed the character [of Randy] on set. As far as the scenes go, we were writing bits for Randy on set. So you do bunch of stuff, and then Judd's like, "Do this again," or "Do that again." He kind of picks his favorites.

Beaks: And oftentimes people generate material for other characters. Did you find that people were wanting to write for Randy?

Ansari: In that documentary thing we shot, we sat down with Evan Goldberg and Jonah [Hill] and a couple of other friends, and... they helped us come up with ideas for that. Seth and Evan and all those guys really took a liking to Randy, and they were psyched when we started doing that documentary.

Beaks: And DJ Old Youngin'. How'd he get worked into the show?

Ansari: That was just one night when I was at the UCB Theater in L.A. I was doing Randy, and I'd brought my laptop because I had the idea to hit that Reggaeton horn at the end of jokes. I had it set up with all of those noises and was just going to hit them myself. But then Brandon [Johnson] was there, and I was like, "Man, would you like to be Randy's DJ and do that bit?" And so he just started doing it with me. He's so funny. I kept doing it with him whenever I could. Unfortunately, we shot him at the Orpheum show, but he wasn't in the scenes we did before I hadn't come up with the idea of having him in the mix yet. But he's in the Comedy Central show.

Beaks: What if Randy becomes this huge phenomenon, and people start demanding new Randy material? Are you ready to do more Randy?

Ansari: Oh, not right now. I've got to do some Aziz stuff for a little bit. (Laughs) I mean, it's a minor character in the movie, but Judd and Seth really got into the character, which is why we have that documentary and the website and all that stuff. It's very flattering. But it's a fun character to do. It's just like being a dick. (Laughs) And super high-energy.

Beaks: It strikes me that you have to be in pretty good shape to do Randy.

Ansari: Oh, man! You watch those Katt Williams specials, and he's jumping around for an hour. I like Katt Williams. I think he's funny. But I watch him, and I'm like, "Man, that must be tiring." I do ten minutes of Randy, and I'm exhausted. (Laughs)

Beaks: That night you did him at the Orpheum, you were sick, right?

Ansari: Yeah, and I was only supposed to do ten minutes. But the crowd was so into it, Judd was like, "Go out there and do some more!" And then I had to my own material because I ran out of Randy stuff. But, yeah, I was really sick that day.

Here are the concluding chapters of the Randy documentary.
FUNNY PEOPLE opens nationwide July 31st. Faithfully submitted, Mr. Beaks

Readers Talkback
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  • July 28, 2009, 11:58 p.m. CST

    ...."Macho Man" Savage?

    by GibsonUSA Returns

    Aw man.

  • July 29, 2009, 12:02 a.m. CST

    Let's talk about BIG LOB for a sec...

    by GibsonUSA Returns

    Big Lob has no love interest. Big Lob never will have no love interest. Big Lob is all business. he shakes his head at the whole Duke/Scarlet thing. If you give Big Lob a love interest, it is no longer Big Lob.

  • July 29, 2009, 12:06 a.m. CST

    We need 4-8 more Seth Rogan movies per year.

    by Margot Tenenbaum

    Maybe 'they' could make him the CBS version of Jay Leno so I can see him every night. Boy oh boy do I love Seth Rogan. And Jonah Hill as well. I like anything that I momentarily found to be amusing to be run into the ground, which is why I'm such a huge fan of Kevin Smith and Austin Powers movies. "YEAH BABY!"

  • July 29, 2009, 12:13 a.m. CST


    by lockesbrokenleg


  • July 29, 2009, 12:31 a.m. CST

    there's no fuckin way this isn't based on Dane Cook

    by SecretDwarfHooker

    stealing jokes, a bad reality series with three comics no one can remember, bragging about all the places he's had sex. i mean it's nice of Aziz to be graceful about it, but fuck Dane Cook forever for ripping Louis CK.

  • July 29, 2009, 12:42 a.m. CST

    They should rename it to JEWISH PEOPLE.....

    by Charger28

    Because the whole fuckin' cast is jewish. I think even the key grip is jewish. the Closed Captioning is in Hebrew. I hate Adam Sandler, Rob Schnieder, Set Rogen, Jonah Hill, Judd Apatow, Jason Segel, Andy Samberg, Seth Green, Mila Kunis, Alex bornstien, Ben Stiller, Michael Ian Black, Lewis Black, John (Iwant to kill him) Stewart, and every other frickin' jew they stuff into this ridiculous movie!

  • July 29, 2009, 12:43 a.m. CST

    and Sarah Silverman

    by Charger28

    Can't stand her

  • July 29, 2009, 12:43 a.m. CST

    Hollywood is racist and biased

    by Charger28

    against all that are not jewish

  • July 29, 2009, 12:47 a.m. CST

    Aziz is very funny

    by Brian

    I'm a fan

  • July 29, 2009, 1:03 a.m. CST

    Oh yeah this reminds me...

    by Mr.LordBronco

    I hate Adam Sandler movies. <p> Oh and now we are adding Seth Rogen into the mix? Wow it's the perfect recipe for Utter Fail.

  • July 29, 2009, 1:14 a.m. CST


    by HaterofCrap


  • July 29, 2009, 1:15 a.m. CST

    Unfunny & Fucking Retarded

    by ThePilgrim

    I want my 5 minutes back! Drunks will laugh at anything. Ohhh he said pussy. Pussy underwater for ball azz playa's. When will this ig'nt speak fucking die the fuck off? Ebonics needs to catch aids.

  • July 29, 2009, 1:37 a.m. CST

    Viral marketing. The new suckitude.

    by V'Shael

    Just because you know the trappings of viral marketing (secret websites, alternate reality video clips, astroturf reviews) doesn't mean you have a good product. <p> This looks like utter shit.

  • July 29, 2009, 1:37 a.m. CST

    The "Funny People" virals are a good example of...

    by DerLanghaarige

    ...what's wrong with satire today. Inventing a stand up comedian who makes bad jokes, just to show that there are other stand up comedians who make bad jokes is neither smart or funny. Same with these strange Adam Sandler teasers, where he plays a mermaid or a baby. <br> You are not satirizing it, you are doing the same! And to know that it's bad, doesn't make it funny.

  • July 29, 2009, 2:01 a.m. CST

    The Funny People preview dates the movie already

    by lockesbrokenleg

  • July 29, 2009, 2:03 a.m. CST

    I'm in on the joke... I get what he's doing...

    by Anti-fanboy

    but it's so contrived that it just doesn't work for me.

  • July 29, 2009, 2:19 a.m. CST

    Pure SHIT !

    by kingoflight

  • July 29, 2009, 2:27 a.m. CST


    by stalfos

    Hilarious. It's so fucking retarded and that's the point and it's hilarious. If you don't like it go fuck some pancakes.

  • July 29, 2009, 3:42 a.m. CST

    I donno, I think there is some nuance to this

    by s0nicdeathmonkey

    and I think Randy is a very funny character. He's not making fun of other comedians so much as he is making fun of the culture that supports the work of people like Kat Williams and Dane Cooke. The people who lower the common denominator. It's sort of cerebral in its stupidity because it forces you to question why you're laughing at it, but you're still laughing.

  • July 29, 2009, 4:27 a.m. CST

    I took it as a Dane Cook parody

    by Laserhead

    and it's awesome-- it IS nuanced in its levels of performance. One of the funniest things I've seen associated with Apatow, ever.<p> Also, Seth Rogen sucks.

  • July 29, 2009, 4:51 a.m. CST

    flight of the conchords

    by jacksparness

    he hates australians. "im gonna count to ten"

  • July 29, 2009, 6:55 a.m. CST

    Beaks? What in blazes is with the Wodehouse reference?

    by DoctorZoidberg

    Don't compare old P.G. to this guy, just because they share the element of parody.

  • July 29, 2009, 7:33 a.m. CST

    the DJ cracks me up...

    by Deep Roots

  • July 29, 2009, 7:34 a.m. CST


    by Deep Roots

    the DJ cracks me up... "I was a dental hygenist...TRYIN' TO GET YA TEETH CLEANED!!!"

  • July 29, 2009, 7:46 a.m. CST

    It's clearly Dane Cook

    by Jor-El23

    That Randy is based on...although I could see Katt Williams too. In at least one of the viral videos I've seen "Randy" mentions Facebook, finding him on Facebook and how many friends he has. Also there's a bit in the fake documentary where he talks about doing stand up for about 2 months and really struggling and paying his dues. Also clearly a dig on Cook. But then there's the dancing and yelling and sex stuff, that's more Katt Williams.

  • July 29, 2009, 7:54 a.m. CST

    Holy shit....that DJ....

    by Fart_Master_Flex

    I want a documentary on Randy's DJ. The part in the studio was the best of all three parts!!

  • July 29, 2009, 8:05 a.m. CST


    by turketron_2

    Setting off Randy's lame jokes with the fucking Reggaeton horns... genius.<p><p>I haven't seen anything in the Funny People trailer that makes me want to see the movie, the fucking stale super lame Harry Potter joke at the end of the commercial hurts every time.<p> Human Giant, however, is fucking GREAT and was one of the only good things to air on MTV in years. I got the first season on dvd for dirt cheap.

  • July 29, 2009, 8:10 a.m. CST

    This character is...

    by WS

    ...the official point where indie comedy hit the fucking wall.

  • July 29, 2009, 8:12 a.m. CST

    I don't think Randy is different enough

    by Series7

    From Aziz for people to really get it. We were watching that crap on Comedy Central and besides everyone sitting around congratulating how great they were. Aziz's Randy was the only actually funny stand up. But the rest of the crew talking about how they don't even see Aziz anymore, like its some Peter Sellers amazing character difference is just ludicrous.

  • July 29, 2009, 8:14 a.m. CST

    Screw y'all, I'm seeing it.

    by Deathpool

    Looks funny. Don't get the Seth Rogan hate either, he's in like 2 movies a year, 3 maybe? So that's 49 other weeks with no new Rogan movies. I'm not a big fan or whatever, but he doesn't bother me.

  • July 29, 2009, 8:25 a.m. CST


    by StonedWriter88

    tryin to get ya teeth cleaned! was funny. i watched the documentaries yesterday, and to hear aziz today describe it as soulja boy doing stand up is perfect. i think its funny, not genius, but funny. i heard they're making a movie of raaaaaandy it could be funny. especially if it was more about his life being a crazy asshole than his standup. randy has the makings of a great comedy character, for me. self centered to the point of absurdity mixed with pointless excitement.

  • July 29, 2009, 8:28 a.m. CST

    viral did not work on me

    by StonedWriter88

    that funny people trailer is so lame, and to think they even titled it funny people. i enjoyed the randy documentaries but they tell me he's only in it for a couple minutes. so why should i go see this movie? oh well, im sure i'll get on netflix next year.

  • July 29, 2009, 8:34 a.m. CST

    Rob Huebel was the shit

    by Series7

    As the annoying phone guy before movies.

  • July 29, 2009, 8:37 a.m. CST


    by Series7

    Nice to see someone have a positive first time story about stand up. I always wondered if there are stand ups who tried it and killed the first time, or at least just didn't bomb.

  • July 29, 2009, 8:39 a.m. CST

    I saw nudity on Comedy Central once

    by Series7

    I couldn't believe it, granted it was during a Rodney Carrington special. So probably no one screened it, I think it was just on after I finished something on the DVR. I was like did comedy central just show something rated R? And it was not 3 in the morning.

  • July 29, 2009, 8:40 a.m. CST

    Randy bad

    by D.Vader

    I don't find it very funny at all. And *that's* the joke? Meh.

  • July 29, 2009, 9:23 a.m. CST

    Just when you thought AICN wasn't sucking

    by Stabby

    Judd Appatow's dick enough.

  • July 29, 2009, 9:36 a.m. CST

    You must be this tall to suck Randy's Dick

    by frongbak


  • July 29, 2009, 10:32 a.m. CST


    by torontoxic

    I don't get it. Raaaaaaaandy is a character that's exactly like the guy but a little more annoying? Powerful shit. Funny people looks like the misleading name of the century. Congrats to that little pecker on being the one non Jewish guy in the whole fucking movie btw. They should have called it Jewish Guys Phoning It In.

  • July 29, 2009, 11:28 a.m. CST

    What was funny

    by Series7

    On Rotten Tomatoes yesterday Seth Rogan was their person of the day and his highest rated movie was Funny People, but as the day went on and the reviews came in by the end of the day Knocked Up was his highest rated movie.

  • July 29, 2009, 12:42 p.m. CST

    40 Year Old Virgin

    by enderandrew

    40 Year Old Virgin was pretty funny, but Harry made it seem like this watershed moment that no comedy in 50 years was like this film. Knocked Up was an improvement in that they added some level of drama. I don't think Seth Rogen is a genius, nor does he annoy me. He is simply there.<p>Funny People seems like a logical progression given Upatow's first two films. I'll see it with reasonable expectations.

  • July 29, 2009, 1:14 p.m. CST

    Dane Cook parody

    by MaliceHighload

    A clear dig at the Dane Cook phenomenon--thought that was the consensus? The high-bullshit delivery. Raving frat audiences. Particularly the bit where Randy steals someone else's material. Az just being political by not crediting this?

  • July 29, 2009, 1:16 p.m. CST


    by supercowbell5THECOWBELLHASSPOKEN

    jesus fucking christ judd is getting in over his fucking head!! a 2 and a half hour comedy? (dramedy?) you got to be shitting me.

  • July 29, 2009, 3:34 p.m. CST

    Aziz usually isn't funny

    by daggor

    This is the first thing I've seen him do I find amusing. I don't see the character being funny for much longer, though. BTW, I took the file cabinet of jokes & studying the audio peaks as a reference to the infamous Dat Phan.

  • July 29, 2009, 8:54 p.m. CST


    by redkamel

    ...there is no safehouse in stockholm!

  • July 30, 2009, 3:26 p.m. CST

    I can't wait!

    by TSTEWIE

    I have loved the first two Apatow films exponentially and I think this one is going to be the best yet. I like this viral marketing campaign (and do LOVE Raaaaaaaandy!) because they're making the world of FUNNY PEOPLE bigger than the movie itself and saving whats actually going to be in the movie. This will be inevitably be one packed DVD. I'm seeing it tomorrow with huge anticipation (something I rarely allow myself these days.) "That's not a cheeseburger, that's my dick!"