If you watch Netflix’s “Master of None,” you know Aziz Ansari and Eric Wareheim’s onscreen rapport is pretty darn charming. In the comedy series co-created by Ansari and Alan Yang (“Parks and Rec”), Ansari and Wareheim play Dev and Arnold, thirtysomething besties living in Brooklyn. They call each other “Big Bud” and “Lil Bud” and pass the time making up goofy songs and talking about girls — always while getting down on some serious grub (season one showed them noshing at The Commodore, Mission Chinese, Tacos Morelos food truck, among other NYC hotspots).
It’s not so different from how they interact in real life, Wareheim tells us.
“All that silly stuff, dancing around and singing — we really do that,” he says, on a call from LA. “We’re very goofy together. We overanalyze emojis. But at the same time we’re doing it laughing, because we’re not that ridiculous.” Um, but aren't they, though? See this fake promo video they did for a "Big Bud/Lil Bud" spinoff:
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The 41-year-old comedian tells us that a lot of inspiration for “Master of None” Season 2, out Friday, comes from Aziz and Eric’s real-life antics. This season opens with Dev in Italy, where he’s taking time out from a stalled relationship and career to focus on his true passion: learning to make perfect pasta. Naturally, Arnie — whom Aziz has referred to as Dev's “token white friend” next to buds Denise (Lena Waithe), and Brian (Kelvin Yu) — comes to visit.
“Last year, before the show, we traveled to Europe for a couple months together, got in some trouble, talked about life, talked about girls, and a lot of that ended up in the show,” Wareheim remembers. “The show feels in some way a time capsule of that time, and also of our friendship.” Aww. (For another glimpse into their misadventures abroad, see the "unofficial official" video they shot to Kanye West's "Famous"):
Back to "Master of None" (but it's all interconnected, isn't it?). In one scene, the two get their Volvo stuck in a narrow alley in Sicily. That really happened; all you have to do is look at Ansari’s Instagram for proof. In the show it’s mined for laughs — Arnold gets stuck in the sun roof, panicking like a man-sized baby while Dev can’t help but video the amusing debacle on his phone. It played out the same way in real life: Wareheim says it was really scary, but of course, Ansari still recorded it.
Wareheim, who’s also a supervising producer on the show, says it's not uncommon for their scenes together to come out of improvised sessions. “A couple days before the shoot, we’ll just get together in our hotel room and drink some wine and throw away the script, and just talk to each other about what’s happening, and Aziz would record it on his phone and listen back to it and rewrite the script,” he explains.
The two ate very well on their European adventure together, as they do onscreen. Wareheim’s favorite meal in Italy? “If I had to boil it down to one bite, it would be the tortellini from Osteria Francescana in Modena, that crazy no. 1 restaurant in the world. They make this tortellini in a parmesan cream sauce, it’s crazy….It’s very old school, nothing fancy, just symbolizes that region [Modena].”
Apparently their minds all always in their bellies. “Whenever we shoot, we instantly start Yelping what the best food places are in that five block vicinity for lunch. That’s pretty much what we’re fully focused on, equally as making the show good,” he says.
An episode Wareheim directed this season, “First Date,” is one of our favorites. An experimental feat, it shows Dev on a series of first dates that literally merge into each other over the course of one night (played by multiple actresses, the woman he’s having a glass of wine with morphs into someone else over dinner, and then into someone else on the Uber ride home, and so on).
The bizarre interactions spurred by dating in the digital age is a recurring topic on the show — as in Ansari's standup and his book "Modern Romance." Wareheim, a bachelor himself, can relate. “I wanted to make the audience feel like what it is to date on apps, where you’re kind of walking into this blind, like ‘Who are you?’ [situation] and the way to do that was through that rapid fire, quick cutting, multiple people kind of thing,” he explains. “It was very scary to go in shooting that way. It could have sucked, but we really mapped it out and I’m so happy with how it turned out.”
Beyond "Master of None," real life Big Bud has a lot coming up. This summer, he’ll go on tour for the tenth anniversary of “Tim and Eric Awesome Show," the bizarre sketch series on Adult Swim he created and stars in alongside comedian Tim Heidecker. “The [live] show’s fun, but only if you like our stuff. Otherwise, don’t come,” he jokes.
He’s also in the middle of production on the second season of “Tim and Eric's Bedtime Stories,” his and Heidecker’s nightmare horror comedy series, also on Adult Swim.
“We’re going pretty extreme on this one, it’s a very, very dark comedy,” he says. They worked with a “dream cast,” including Ray Wise (Leland Palmer on “Twin Peaks”) and Rhea Pearlman (“Cheers”) who play a creepy duo in one episode. He describes it: “Imagine if you had a wife and something happened that you weren’t married to her anymore, and she was actually your mom. That’s a nightmare.”
Speaking of “Twin Peaks,” Wareheim is psyched for the revival.
“I just rewatched ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me’ to get stoked,” he says. “I’ve watched it a million times, [David Lynch] is such a big inspiration for me.”
One question we wish we asked: If he and Lil Bud tune in together, what will they order for din-din?
Master of None Season 2 airs Friday, May 12 on Netflix.