Watch a never-before-seen "SNL" sketch starring Nasim Pedrad as Aziz Ansari

Last time she played the comedian on "SNL," critics took note of her darkened skin

Published September 16, 2014 6:28PM (EDT)

While former "SNL" star Nasim Pedrad was better known for her impersonation of Kim Kardashian on the sketch comedy show, the comedian always wanted to get more stage time as Aziz Ansari. "I was constantly on a mission to play Ansari," she said on "Conan" Monday night, adding, "I got to for like a second."

That "second" she's referring to includes a controversial "50 Shades of Grey" sketch from Season 39 in which she appeared as Ansari for a few seconds -- seemingly donning what looked like brownface. The moment was called out by many Indian-American writers as the second time in recent memory that "SNL" used brownface to portray a person of color (the other recent example being Fred Armisen as President Obama).

Turns out that Pedrad did a longer sketch as Ansari, but this one got cut at the last minute. This wasn't a surprise to Pedrad -- but it is to the audience, because her "boner-eraser" impersonation of Ansari's delusional, energetic "Parks and Rec" character in this never-before-seen clip is spot on. Pedrad didn't address the controversy, or say why "SNL" cut the sketch, but it's a shame that instead of focusing on her obvious talent, we have to deal with the question of brownface and look at "SNL's" past diversity issues.

By Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

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Aziz Ansari Comedy Conan O'brien Diversity Nasim Pedrad Saturday Night Live Snl Video