Steal as much wisdom from other people as you can.

Context helps.

We have these superprivate feelings and conundrums that are actually fairly universal. We just don’t talk about them as much. But if you put yourself out there and be a little vulnerable, you find out that everything that you think is specific to you is not.

I’ve been writing some new stand-up about my sex life with my girlfriend, and I can tell people are like, I can’t believe you’re discussing this right now. I talk about how, when you’ve fucked so many times, you’ve run out of ways to do it, so you’re in your garage like, Oh, maybe we can fuck on this ottoman. I don’t know. . . it might be a little small — and it just keeps going from that. But as soon as I start, you can see that click: They’re laughing because they went through it.

I don’t have an ottoman in my garage. That’s just for that bit.

Really high-quality ingredients, done very well and simple? That’s great.

For Chinese food, you don’t want a nice place.

I try to listen. You can gain insight into someone and their character and their experiences by just talking to them. I wrote an episode about old people for my show, and the woman who’s playing the old lady in it asked, “Who wrote this?” I told her I did. And she said, “How do you know this stuff? This rings very true. How did you do this?” I spent a lot of time talking with older women. I asked them questions.

I had lunch with these three older Italian women, and they were telling me about their lives. They lived in New York. I asked, “Well, what did your parents do?” and one of them was like, “Oh, my dad made horseshoes for the horse and buggies.” What? “Yeah, horse and buggies would go down Bleecker Street.” That’s crazy. She was around in that time. She was a kid then. And then one woman said this story about how she hitchhiked on an ice truck and went and saw Sinatra and paid a quarter to see him. That’s crazy. Old people have crazy stories. People never talk with them or engage with them.

I wish that everyone, when they get to a certain age, was forced to write a very detailed biography. Because when your parents pass away, so many stories and experiences are going to be lost. They probably told you only a very tiny slice of the crazy stuff that they experienced in their lives. It’s a shame that it gets lost.

You get to be the age that your parents were when they came to this country, and you start thinking about how crazy that would be to leave your country and come to America, where maybe they didn’t know anybody, they have no connections to get a job, and maybe there’s racism. And you realize they did that, and because they did that, you have this easy life full of opportunities. It’s rarely recognized, that sacrifice that they made.

Every comedian has a strong sense of social justice.

This is an interesting thing I’ve noticed: When younger people come up to you and recognize you, a lot of times they’re just interested in a photo for their Instagram. I saw Louis [C. K.] do this thing a long time ago where someone came up to him for a photo, and he was just like, “Hey, I can’t take a photo, but it’s nice to meet you. What’s your name?” and just talked to them for a little bit. And I was like, That’s a great idea. I would much rather just speak to a person than sit there and pose for a photo. I feel awkward doing that. I don’t enjoy that. One time there was a kid who came up to me. I was with my girlfriend having lunch. And he came up and was like, “Hey, can I get a photo?” And I was like, “Hey, you know, I’d rather not. I’m here with my girlfriend, hanging out with her, and I don’t want to be rude to her. But I’m Aziz. What’s your name?” and he was like, “Chris.” And I was like, “Oh, how’s your day going? What’d you get to eat here?” or whatever, and he just walked off! But when he came up to me he was like, “You’re my favorite comedian!” If I had run into Chris Rock when I was in high school, and I was like, “Hey, can I get a picture?” and he said no but he asked me stuff and was trying to engage in conversation, I would have stayed there until he pushed me away.

Phone world. It’s a totally different world we keep engaging with at the same time as the rest of our lives. Because when you’re not in your phone world, all this shit’s happening. You’re like, What’s happening? Is the phone world falling apart? Your head is only supposed to be in one world.

Nothing’s ever urgent.

We all deal with the same nonsense.

To buy Aziz Ansari’s new book, Modern Romance, head here.

For more wisdom and life lessons from world leaders, cultural icons, and athletes, head to

Like what you read? Give Esquire Classics a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.