Aziz Ansari recently received The Moth Award (named for the storytelling series The Moth) for his continued excellence as a great storyteller in forms like stand-up comedy and television writing. When accepting the award at the 2017 Moth Ball (get it?), Ansari used the occasion to demonstrate that sometimes real life is too wacky even for a comedy show.
In Season 2 of Ansari’s Netflix series Master of None, his character Dev conducts a secret and lifelong love affair with pork unbeknownst to his devout Muslim parents (played by Ansari’s real-life mother and father). Like many Master of None plots, the story has its roots in something that really happened to Ansari as a child raised in a Muslim household. It all started when, as a boy, he was given bacon for breakfast at a friend’s house, only to be told later by his mother that he could not eat the delicious smoky pork because he was a Muslim.
That part of the story actually happens to young Dev in the Master of None episode “Religion.” When it came to the rest, though, Ansari said the show’s writers – himself included – found the real story just too strange to adapt. The truth also involves secret pork consumption, as well as an awkward dinner with a girlfriend, a breakfast sandwich and a very strange text.
Even before Ansari finishes the story you can see why it didn’t make the cut. Master of None is a comedy and it’s happy to traffic in many classic sitcom and romcom conventions. However, it also approaches said conventions with a very light touch, making a tale this bizarrely convenient in its staging feel out of place amid all the frank talk about relationships and life regrets. Even the wackiest of network shows might not go this far, particularly if you can’t use the format of the show to underline that it really happened and it’s not just some hack writer’s invention. As a little family tale told by a guy who’s skilled in working a crowd up to a punchline, though, it’s a reminder that Ansari is a brilliant and energetic raconteur.
Take a listen to Ansari’s true story of covert pork love: