Aziz Ansari publicly addresses sexual misconduct allegations for first time

Comedian has remained silent over charges since issuing an official statement last January

FILE - In this Jan. 11, 2018 file photo, Aziz Ansari arrives at the 23rd annual Critics' Choice Awards at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif.  Ansari said at a standup show in New York that a sexual misconduct allegation was humiliating, but he hopes he’s become better since. It was the comedian and 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 in which an unidentified accuser wrote that Ansari acted improperly on a date. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
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Aziz Ansari has stepped out of the shadows to address last year’s sexual misconduct allegations against him during an intimate show to try out material for his upcoming tour in New York.

Ansari had remained largely out of the public spotlight since he issued an official statement last January over the allegations that were made against him by an unidentified woman on the website. The article was entitled I Went on a Date with Aziz Ansari. It Turned into the Worst Night of my Life.

In front of an audience of around 200 competition winners for his NY pop-up show, Ansari started off comically enough by recounting an incident that had happened on the street near his Tribeca home.

According to a Vulture reporter who attended the show, a passer-by had recognised Ansari, and congratulated him on his Netflix show. It soon became apparent, however, that the fan was not talking about Ansari's Master of None, but Hasan Minhaj's 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 Yo'Self!' 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!"

Ansari then took on a more serious tone, however, sat down and addressed the audience further regarding the reasons he hasn’t yet discussed the “whole thing.”

“It’s a terrifying thing to talk about,” Ansari said. “There were times I felt really upset and humiliated and embarrassed, and ultimately I 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. It made me think about a lot, and I hope I’ve become a better person.”

The 35-year-old was apologetic in his statement last year, though he maintained that he understood that the events that took place in the evening in question were consensual at the time. He said the incident had led some of his friends to think harder about consent their treatment of women too: “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.”

Ansari went on to thank his fans for sticking by him, saying that for a time he thought he may never be able to appear onstage again and admitted that he always used to end his shows with “Thanks so much,” but not really mean it – it’s just how you end a show. “But now, I really mean it,” he said. “I mean it on a different level.”

Ansari begins his new stand up tour of North America and Europe in April.