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Comedian Aziz Ansari is opening up about the sexual misconduct allegation made against him last year in his new Netflix special that landed Tuesday, telling the audience at the top of the show that he continues to grapple with so many emotions.
"There's times I felt scared. There's times I felt humiliated. There's times I felt embarrassed," the 36-year-old says in his stand-up show, "Aziz Ansari: Right Now." "And ultimately, I just felt terrible. That this person felt this way."
The allegation was published anonymously in early 2018 by the website babe.net and quoted a 23-year-old Brooklyn, New York, woman using a pseudonym who described a date with Ansari a few months earlier. She said he had acted aggressively and pressured her during a sexual encounter.
In a statement to NBC News at the time, Ansari described it as "completely consensual." He added that she did later text him to say she felt uncomfortable, and that while he was surprised, he "took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said."
The allegation against Ansari came as other stories of sexual misconduct and abuse began to entangle celebrities and high-profile and powerful men, leading to a #MeToo reckoning that also unraveled some of their careers. But the fallout from Ansari's case drew debate over the varying degrees and nuances over sexual misconduct, as well as how such stories are reported to the public.
Without going into detail about what happened, Ansari said during his special that he hopes the experience has made him a better person.
"I always think about a conversation I've had with one of my friends where he was like, 'You know what, man? That whole thing made me think about every date I've ever been on,'" Ansari said.
Ansari had won a Golden Globe in the week before the allegation came out for his starring role in the Netflix series, "Master of None." But in the months after, he stayed out of the spotlight before beginning an international comedy tour, "Road to Nowhere," last summer.
He begins his special, which was taped in Brooklyn in May and directed by Spike Jonze, by bringing up how someone had mistaken him for another comedian who has a Netflix show, Hasan Minhaj.
"He immediately realized his mistake, he was trying to buy it back. He's like, 'Oh, no, no, Aziz right?' I was like, 'Yeah, yeah, that's me' ... 'And, uh, you had that whole thing last year, sexual misconduct?' 'No, no, no, no, no, no! That was Hasan,'" Ansari said to laughter.
Ansari also tackles issues about cultural appropriation, his grandmother's Alzheimer's battle, and his relationship with his girlfriend.
"All we really have is the moment we're in," he added, "and the people we're with."