gotham awards

Aziz Ansari’s Gotham Award Acceptance Speech Revealed His Selfish Reasons for Loving Shows Made in New York

68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals
Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images

Aziz Ansari was honored by the New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment at the IFP Gotham Awards on Monday night, and during his acceptance speech, he clued us in to a couple of important facts. One, if you are going to give him an award, give it more heft than a paperweight and make it bigger than a coaster. Size matters. And two, he is not ashamed to admit that he loves to shoot in New York for selfish reasons. There’s the free food, if you’re not above swiping from craft-service tables meant for other productions (watch out, Tom Selleck). There are the strange passersby who aren’t afraid of a little exposure. And there are the delightful but unexpected moments when revered indie directors might just happen to be in your neighborhood. Here’s how he explained it in his speech:

“I can’t believe this! I found out about this award two months ago, and I tried to forget about it so I would be surprised. Thank you very much. It’s a very small award. This is literally just a logo. If I sit it at my desk, it would be like looking at a large coin. You got something else that goes with this? This is not the real one, right? There’s like a device to hold it that I get later in the back, right? This is embarrassing. This is like a coaster. I’m very flattered, but it’s like you could have spent a little money on the award. You know I’m kidding. I want to thank Julie Menin and Alicia Glen [from the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment], I just met them now, but they seem very nice. I did just meet them now! What are you groaning about? I’d also like to thank IFP Gotham Awards, Mayor de Blasio, everyone at the Mayor’s office that supported me getting this award… And if you didn’t support me, then guess what? Fuck you, I won it. ‘I think Louie should get it.’ Fuck you, bro — Aziz! See? If you start cursing and yelling, they stop chitchatting.

    You know, this is the Made in New York Award, and I really do feel like I was made in New York, because I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I was a young man. I moved to New York in 2000 to go to school at NYU, and I have used nothing of what I learned at NYU, but moving to New York made me who I am, when I started doing stand-up comedy as a young man, and if I did not move here, I would not have this career that I have, that I love, and that excites me every day, and I really do feel like I owe it all to the city of New York. For fuck’s sake. Without New York, I would probably be living in South Carolina, there would be no Gotham Awards, no friendship with Nick Kroll, no sightings of Jim Jarmusch in my neighborhood …

    When I started shooting my show Master of None here in New York, I LOVED shooting in New York. I loved it. You guys know how boring it is to shoot somewhere and have zero chance of ruining a take because someone is urinating? Or someone is yelling, ‘Aziz!’ in the middle of a long one-ner? And so much stuff shoots here! It’s great! It’s great for the city. You know how great it is to be able to walk around the city, and if you get hungry, steal craft services from Mr. Robot? You know how many bags of chips I’ve taken from Mr. Robot and Blue Bloods? Only the Sun Chips. Tom Selleck is looking for French Onion Sun Chips, and he can’t find them.

    When Alan Yang and I first talked about creating the show, years ago, we were in Los Angeles, shooting the show Parks and Recreation, and we were talking about the television show we wanted to do. We only wanted to do ten episodes, no more. And I wanted to shoot the show in New York. And that’s all we knew! You know, I’m very proud of the shows that we made, but really, all of this was a scam to come back to New York. We’re so happy to be here. Thank you.”

Read Aziz Ansari’s Gotham Award Speech