I have always been a huge Aziz Ansari fan. Tom, his character, was one of my favorite character in Parks and Recreation, and his stand-up is the best I have ever seen (if you don't believe me, see his bit on ghosts). Right now I am in the middle of season two of Master of None, and I absolutely adore it. So, in honor of my love for all things Aziz (treat yo self 2017), I present to you some writing lessons from Master of None.
1. Don't Be Afraid to Own Your Influences
Master of None has an episode that is a homage to Fellini films and another one that is in the format of New York, I Love You. These aren't outright copies, but he is not shy about how he gets inspiration from them (the "New York, I Love You" episode is titled after the movie). Basically, he takes his influences and gives them his own twist to make something new.
Your takeaway: Don't be embarrassed that you have influences (EVERYONE does). Instead of shrinking from them, embrace them. Now don't plagiarize (we all learned that is bad in school), but use your inspiration to do something new. For example, do you love video games? Write a short story that has a video game structure to it.
2. Be Honest
What makes the show so funny (and what makes humor work in general) is that it is honest. In the episode "Ladies and Gentleman," it hilariously portrays the difference between walking alone at night as a man vs. walking alone at night as a woman. While the men walk, the song "Don't Worry, Be Happy" is playing. While a woman walks, scary music plays. What makes it funny is that the difference that it portrays is true.
Your takeaway: Be honest in your writing; don't be afraid to put yourself out there. Not only will you connect with your reader, you might make him or her laugh (in a good way).
3. Be Careful with Your Dialogue
The one major downside of the show is that the dialogue is stiff. Nobody talks that way! It is sometimes painful for me to watch. Also, the bad dialogue has the unfortunate side effect of pulling me out of the story and make me believe in the characters less.
Your takeaway: Make sure your dialogue is realistic. If it isn't, it can diminish other aspects of your story (i.e. characterization). Read it out loud to make sure it is solid.
Have you seen Master of None? Tell me about your favorite episodes in the comments below!