So this is the story of HOW I GOT #AzizAnsari TO BRING ME COOKIES AND MILK.
We were both on a non-stop flight from New York to Los Angeles. He was in business class and, well, I was not.
It was March of 2016 and I was flying home to Los Angeles after touring the east coast telling jokes. I was exhausted and existentially pissed that I was flying from New York to Los Angeles on Delta Airlines. I never fly on Delta because it's expensive and I'm an immigrant who rescues restaurant napkins. The only reason I was on this flight was because I had to use flight credit after paying a two hundred dollar refund penalty. I’m a self-employed stand up comedian. I never waste money like that.
See, just a couple of months before, I bought a Delta ticket to be with my boyfriend at his friend's pricey destination wedding in Mexico. A few weeks later, he broke up with me. (Thanks for the two hundred dollar parting gift, bro!) He told me that I was not the kind of girl that he really desired. When we first met, he told me he liked me for being the political, opinionated, curvy and go-getting woman that I am. Nine months later he realized what he REALLY wanted was a more petite, submissive and femme woman. Audible gasp. So he didn’t want to be with a loud, assertive, raspy-voiced Asian American woman who hustled her way into an unlikely career in comedy? I thought he was better than the average guy. My feminist heart broke, then threw up in its mouth.
So this flight was an annoying reminder of all the reasons I was not loved (by this guy at least) and why the white supremacist hetero-normative capitalist patriarchy should continue to go fuck itself. Great.
As I passed through business class I saw (master of) none other than Aziz Ansari in the corner with his sunglasses on and very into his cell phone. The boyish face. Short-cropped hair. The Shake Shack to-go bag. It had to be him. He was doing a terrible job at pretending not to be Aziz Ansari.
My heart IMMEDIATELY started racing. SHIT. It’s Aziz Ansari. HE’S ON MY FLIGHT. He’s totally my hashtag life goals. WHAT DO I DO? WHAT *CAN* I DO? WHY AM I SO AMPED?
In this situation it’s safe to say that any other normal human being or even stand up comedian would’ve just played it cool and kept to themselves. Maybe text a friend or tweet “LOL I’m on the same flight as Aziz Ansari” before hitting airplane mode.
But, no. I couldn’t leave well enough alone. Because I’m not just a member of #TeamExtra. I’m the Co-Captain.
I had to do SOMETHING. My mind started racing. How do I connect with this person that I admire and want to work with but not annoy them or make them pre-emptively trigger an Amber alert for their own abduction?
I sent over a tasty snack (It was a Mrs. Mays Cran-Blueberry Crunch. Their options were limited, okay?), with a hand-written note inviting him to attend or be a part of The Comedy Comedy Festival: A Comedy Festival (It’s an outgrowth of Disoriented Comedy and basically an Asian American comedy festival. comedycomedyfest.com). What if he headlined our centerpiece standup comedy show?
With sweaty hands, I started the note: “Hi. How are you today? My name is Jenny Yang and I’m a Los Angeles-based standup comedian seated in 25A! I really wanted to send over some super tasty dessert to go with your Shake Shack but the closest thing they had to dessert on this flight was this cran-blueberry crunch (next option was gonna be gummy bears). Oh wells. I hope you can dig it. Like you, I also share love for a good Gold Rush cocktail but sadly this plane is not up to code for that. Otherwise I would’ve classed it up and sent one over.”
The note ended up being three pages long. Fuck it. YOU ONLY COLD-NOTE AZIZ ANSARI ONCE (aka #YOCNAAO).
I explained my situation to a friendly flight attendant. The flight attendant said, “He’s sleeping so I will give it to him when he wakes up to make sure he gets it.” Aww. How sweet.
My hope dimmed the longer time passed. At this point we had less than an hour left on the flight. Sadface. Maybe nothing will happen. Oh well.
The adrenaline was flushing out of my system as I switched between looking out the window and resting my eyes. Suddenly I hear a polite, “Are you Jenny? Jenny Yang?”
I turned and there he was! Only a random white lady seatmate to my right separated me and Aziz Ansari. He was leaning against the aisle chair in front of us holding a glass of milk and a small plate of cookies.
“Thank you for the sweet note. It was so nice of you. I thought I’d return the favor and bring you some of these freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and milk they give us in business class,” he said with a big smile and his Aziz Ansari-ass voice.
They do that?
“Yeah. We totally don’t deserve it. So I thought I’d share.” We chuckle.
OMG. Did we just share a chuckle?
I’m yelling at myself inside my head: “Remember, Jenny. Just be a human. He’s a human. HE'S DONE NEARLY EVERYTHING YOU'D EVER WANT TO DO AS A COMEDIAN AND WRITER FORGET ABOUT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN MODERN LOVE THE EMMY HE'S A HUMAN. Be a human.”
I thanked him so much for coming back here to say hi.
He asked me about my comedy and videos. He said he was working on writing the second season of Master of None so he can’t make it out to events but thank you for the invitation. It was like I was outside of myself watching my body sit there chatting with Aziz Ansari. I was barking commands at my body DO NOT SLOUCH. DO NOT LOCK EYE CONTACT FOR LONGER THAN 3 SECONDS. DO NOT STARE AT ONLY ONE EYE FOR TOO LONG WHAT ARE YOU AN ALIEN IMPOSTER BREATHE!
Five minutes into the conversation and I’ve already nervously inhaled the two warm cookies and downed the milk. lactose-intoleranCE BE DAMNED.
We swap notes about acting and stories about doing standup comedy and what I want to be doing. He said he should connect me with a casting director friend of his. I’m like uh yes, please.
Fifteen minutes into our conversation, it’s the overhead announcement: We are thirty minutes away from landing in Los Angeles.
I figured, well that’s it. Thanks for the chat, Aziz. But before he left he said, “I guess I should go back to my seat. Let’s continue talking. I’ll wait for you right where we get off the plane.”
I do NOT say no to this offer.
I got off the plane and THERE HE WAS as he promised, ending a conversation with a fan just in time to greet me with a hug.
I told him about my tour, my festival and my viral videos. He asked me about the kind of comedy that I’m into. He shared what he was watching to inspire the season two writing. It felt like a normal conversation with a colleague except when we got to baggage claim some dude was like “Aziz! You’re so funny can I get a picture?” No.
DON’T YOU KNOW HIS NO PICTURE POLICY HUSH IM TRYNA MAKE FRIENDSHIP.
He asked me where I was headed. For a second I thought he was gonna offer me a ride. I thought, “Hold up. Is he that chill? We that cool already?” My mind started racing again. HOW DO WE END THIS IMPROMPTU FRIEND-DATE?
“Well, thanks again for the note and gift! It was super nice to get a hand-written note. I’ll definitely check out your videos and be in touch!” Polite hug.
Over a year later, and I have not heard from him. My mistake? I didn’t get his contact info, or at least the contact info of his assistant. Lesson learned.
So here’s the irony: I would’ve never met Aziz and ate his cookies and milk if my boyfriend didn’t break up with me AND if I wasn’t the assertive go-getting comedy hustler that was the “cause” of our breakup.
Too bad, ex-boyfriend. I just need to be me. I love being me. I get to live a fun and inspired life when I get to be me. I’m dope.
But if I’m being totally honest, deep down I still have a kernel of fear that living my life will only repel the desire of a cis-heterosexual man. That being #TeamExtra and #TheMost won't be celebrated but off-putting. I know a number of my badass cis-hetero femme friends share this feeling. We've come to a point in feminism where being a strong, go-getting woman is politically correct to appreciate and value in public. An accomplished and strong woman can certainly be admired from afar. But what happens when you need to be close to her? What will you do when you’re no longer watching the impressive show from a safe distance but loving a whole human who is experiencing the intensity and realities of that go-getting life right up close?
This has been a story I’ve been wanting to share for a year. I talked about Aziz Ansari's Master of None in this cool video below (VIDEO LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdU85XOhiek) that I made with Netflix about the importance of seeing ourselves in stories and media. And he won another Emmy. So it was time.
I still hope to work with and collaborate with Aziz. So if you are reading this, Aziz, thank you for being so kind. Also, please remember that I offered to teach you how to make the best Taiwanese-style potstickers from scratch. It’s like making pasta...but Asianer. HMU. firstname.lastname@example.org
Also: #TeamExtra for life.