Dave Itzkoff in the New York Times:
Before he had graduated from New York University, majoring in marketing, Mr. Ansari, who grew up in Columbia, S.C., was avidly performing comedy in New York clubs and became a fixture of the city’s alternative scene. In 2007 the video shorts he made with fellow comedians Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer and the director Jason Woliner landed them their own MTV sketch show, “Human Giant.”
That show, on which Mr. Ansari played everything from a hard-charging agent of child actors to a police officer who pursues criminals by hot-air balloon, caught the attention of the “Parks and Recreation” producers, who hired him before they had cast its star, Amy Poehler, or settled on a concept for the series.
“He defies categorization,” said Michael Schur, who created “Parks and Recreation” with Greg Daniels. “He’s really sarcastic but also kind of lovable.” He added, “There’s so much going on with him that we felt it would be funny just to have him and Amy Poehler in the same room.”
In his stand-up act Mr. Ansari can be just as far-flung, joking about his time-wasting Internet searches or his fixation with R&B and rap stars like R. Kelly or Kanye West. (Mr. West was sufficiently flattered that he invited Mr. Ansari to a party at his house, which in turn became the basis of another stand-up bit.)