The professional reputation of some actors and performers is inextricable from that of a larger ensemble to which they belong. Comedian/actor/screenwriter Aziz Ansari epitomizes this idea. Ansari shot to fame in the mid- to late 2000s as a member of the three-person comedy troupe responsible for The Human Giant -- a weekly, SNL-style collection of outrageous and irreverent comedy sketches that the group wrote and performed on MTV.
Ansari is -- like Jay Chandrasekhar and a few other comics to emerge during the early 2000s -- of Tamil Indian heritage. Ansari grew up and attended university in rural South Carolina, then studied business at New York University. As a student, Ansari took classes with the famed Upright Citizens Brigade and mounted solo standup comedy gigs at Manhattan-area clubs. After a brief stint working on an Internet advertising business, Ansari discovered that he was earning enough with his standup efforts to focus on this full-time. His association with the Brigade ultimately led to a regular gig as emcee of "Crash Test," a weekly standup comedy showcase at the UCB Theatre, and -- in time -- to the creation of the Human Giant series.
In 2009 Ansari landed a regular part on NBC's well-respected Amy Poehler-led sitcom Parks & Recreation. He parlayed that shows success into small parts in comedies like Judd Apatow's Funny People, Jody Hill's Observe & Report, and Get Him to the Greek. This led to his biggest role to that point as the best friend of a slacker forced to rob a bank in 30 Minutes or Less.
In 2012 he contributed his vocal talents to Ice Age: Continental Drift.