tv Charlie Rose PBS June 21, 2017 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
>> goldberg: welcome to the program. i'm jeff goldberg of the atlantic sitting in for charlie rose. we begin with politics with shannon pettypiece. >> world war 3 will probably be announced over twitter by this president as a main means of contact at this point. >> goldberg: we continue with mark bowden of "the atlantic." his new cover story for the magazine is called "how to deal with north korea." >> north korea has been a very dangerous player for a long time. they sunk a korean ship a few years ago, killed 70 or more sailors on board. they shelled an island and practically leveled it and killed a lot of people.
they've never acknowledged or don't believe that the korean war has ended and they view the united states and south korea as active combatants in a continuing war. i mean, i think people are lulled by time into thinking these hostilities don't still exist. >> goldberg: we turn next to the conversation about foreign policy with david miliband, gideon rose and richard fontaine. >> we confront a situation where the north koreans can't be rewarded for this behavior, this appalling death of the american citizen. the most troubling thing is thee north koreans. it's the north koreans feel strong enough but they don't even want to talk to the chinese because that speaks to seans of isolation. >> goldberg: we conclude with the comedian actor aziz ansari. he spoke to charlie last week about his popular series "master of none" which premiered on netflix last mon
>> as you get, even in our '30s, we feel like how many more times will i feel that strong connection with someone? even with these dating apps and all this stuff, you feel, like, how many times am i going to feel that maverick? >> rose: politics and aziz ansari when we continue. >> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by the following: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: goo
>> goldberg: good evening, charlie is traveling. i'm jeff goldberg with the drank. we begin with politics. president trump's numbers drift downward even with the base that won him the election. according to a new cbs news pole only 36% support his performance. heightened scrutiny over ties with russia as robert mueller's investigation begin to ramp up. voters went to the polls in georgia's nationally watched election for a vacant house seat, viewed as a bellwether for political sentiment across the country. joining me is sman shan, white house correspondent for bloomberg news. welcome, shannon. can we turn right away to the president's most recent tweets? it refers to the north korea crisis. while i greatly appreciate the efforts of president xi in china
to help with north korea, it has not worked out. at least i know china tried, exclamation point, close quote. is there any reaction to this extraordinary tweet? this, as a foreign policy person, i have to say you very rarely see a president writing off the most important diplomatic intervention we could possibly imagine, china trying to get north korea under control, writing it off in a tweet and saying, oh, well, that's all she wrote, moving on? >> right, taking it to twitter, more evidence of this president publicly communicating with otherountries with twitter as a main means of contact at this point. a few things stood out from this. number one, well, who could have guessed that, in a few months, china would be unable to rein in north korea. it's not like this is an issue that just started. two, this opens up the door,
well, your whole north korea strategy was about convincing china to be able to intervene here and strong arm north korea into doing something. well if you're now essentially writing that off the table in this tweet saying, well, they gave it their best shot, it didn't work out, now what is your north korea strategy? so that is the big question now. i think the thing people will focus on here, okay, if you're saying china isn't working, what comes next? is it military intervention? which is obviously the big concern on a lot of people's minds. >> goldberg: right, well, we hope that, in the white house, there are a lot of discussions about where do we go on north korea policy? what we know about the white house is there is a lot of discussion on poll numbers and the white house and the president dealing with low poll
numbers. >> they like to cherry pick the polls so they're always looking for a poll that makes them look better. those who have been with the president for a long time are not concerned about the poll numbers. they saw this president got elected with very low approval ratings. despite what they see now and what might happen in 2018, they're still confident, if the election was held today, even with the bad numbers, he would still get elected because, hey, he got elected as an unfavorable candidate. >> goldberg: go to spicer and his future. is he going to be moved off the podium permanently? the large question for any white house correspondent is does it even matter any more? we don't have a great deal of communication between this white house and the press corps anymore. >> i think he will be moved off the podium when they can find
someone to replace him. they have been trying to find someone to replace him for quite a while now. that's sort of been out there but you can't replace your spokesperson unless you have someone else to take the job. i do not think he's leaving the white house, though. people close to the president tell me the president has a lot of respect for him and loyalty to spicer because he knows sean hasñr taken bigñiñiçóñ.'ñi i don'tñi think he'llçó leave te white house. içó think if anything he'll take on a behind the scenes strategy role which could be nor influential than the spokesperson roles. depends on who replaces him. in any white house it's never a completely transparent, friendly, jovial relationship between the press and the spokesperson. so i think whoever replaces him, there will continue to be tensions. >> goldberg: thank you very much for the update. i appreciate it.
>> goldberg: mark bowden is here, a national correspondent for "the atlantic," a magazine i know something about. he wrote the cover story for the july-august issue of our magazine called "how to deal with north korea." bowden is also the author of the 199999 book "blackhawk down" whh is a finalist for the national award ." i am pleased to have mark bowden at the table. welcome, mark. >> thank you, jeff. >> goldberg: i'm glad you're here. the cover story this month is about north korea and the seemingly impossible challenge north korea poses to u.s. policy makers. we heard yesterday about otto warmbier, the american student imprisoned on false and ridiculous charges nonetheless, however you want to frame it, and was somehow catastrophically injured, we don't really understand how, in his north korean prison and died
yesterday. i want you to just talk for one minute about what you think might have happened, why this happened and what it could mean. >> that's an outlaw regime, and they're very, very dangerous, as the cover story tries to make clear, but they're also very petty. and the real outrage, i don't know exactly what happened to this kid, but he apparently was taking a poster off a wall -- >> goldberg: even if that's true. >> even if that is true, what, he got 20 years hard labor or something? then, obviously, something awful happened to him, and we don't really know what it was. there is a good reason why the state department advises americans not to travel to north korea. >> goldberg: we might be looking at a ban now outright. >> yeah. i mean, there is not much we can do. we kiss courage people from going there, already, so, you know, i guess a ban would be a symbolic gesture. >> goldberg: does this bring us closer to war with
north korea? >> no. >> goldberg: why? because this is the kind of thing that, you know, happens between nations that prompts diplomatic protests and, you know, i guess at its height withdrawing foreign officers from another country. since we don't have any diplomatic relations with north korea there is really not much we can do except express our outrage. >> goldberg: it strikes me you're not surprised by what has happened in this instance. i'm wondering if that lack of surprise comes from your knowledge of this regime as the knowledge that you showed in this atlantic cover story. >> well, i think it does. north korea has been a very dangerous player for a long time and, you know, they've sunk a ship -- a south korean ship a few years ago, killed 70 or more of the sailors on board. they shelled an island, a south korean island and practically leveled it and killed a lot of people.
you know, they are -- they've never acknowledged or don't believe that the korean war has ended and they view the united states and south korea as active combatants in a continuing war. i think people get lulled by time into thinking these hostilities don't still exist. >> goldberg: barack obama told donald trump, this is your most important crisis, this is the unsolvable one, the one with nuclear weapons in play. do you agree? >> goldberg: yeah, i think it's definitely the most dangerous place in the world. >> goldberg: talk to me a little bit about what makes today in this -- because, as you point out, i mean, we have been in a crisis with the north koreans going back to the early 1950s. why is it more dangerous today? >> well, two reasons. one is, you know, the north koreans are getting ever closer to building an icbm which is what they would need if they wanted to deliver a weapon to the united states mainland, and
they're presumed already to have built nuclear weapons small enough to ride on a missile. we know they have nuclear weapons. so, you know, that exists as a kind of a threshold for the threat that they actually pose to the united states and, frankly, the second factor is donald trump, the fact that, you know, he's basically adopted a contrary position to just about everything president obama did, and i think that obama's policy of strategic patience in dealing with north korea doesn't sit well, it certainly doesn't seem to in his tweets, and i think he's playing with fire. >> goldberg: twitter is not known as a platform for strategic patience. >> right. someone asked me how can you justify saying he seems to be ignorant of the long history of this standoff with north korea, and i think i can definite say there is no evidence of any real understanding of what's going on there, and anyone who sort of
deliberately is inflaming the situation it seems to me is working directly counter to a sane policy. >> goldberg: right. so in reading this piece which i think is the definitive piece -- i'm biased -- but i think it's the definitive piece on the current crisis, you come to the conclusion that there are no good options but you do delineate four options. could you very briefly take us through what we're facing? >> the most obvious which would occur to any american is we obviously have the military capability as does south korea to completely destroy north korea's government and economy. >> goldberg: a south korean attack could wipe it out. >> wipe it out, take it away. another possibility is to ramp up the pressure on them, target things like their nuclear test site, their nuclear reactors, like their missile launchers and really make damaging blows to their infrastructure, which, you know, presumably you could ramp that up and hopefully get them
to back down from the pursuit of these weapons. >> goldberg: that seems like a slippery slope. >> all these are bad options. >> goldberg: right. and, you know, north korea, obviously, is going to interpret any attack that the united states makes probably in the worst possible light, so it's very hard to launch a limited attack that doesn't look to them like a full-on attack. >> goldberg: how do you calibrate that when you're dealing with a paranoid, hermetically sealed regime? >> they have been anticipating an american invasion for 60, 70 years. the third option is decapitation, a thing that appeals in a hollywood way, where you go in and take out the leadership of north korea. virtually impossible to do just because of the nature of that totalitarian state because of the degree of security, you know, around kim and the people around him, it would require someone in his inner circle presumably betraying him. >> goldberg: and built on the assumption that you remove him
or a small core of people around him -- >> and you would get something better. you might not, and you might also trigger exactly the thing that you're trying to avoid because he's obviously the lynch pin of their whole state and if you attack him, you could very well kick off the war you're trying to avoid. the last option which is also really undesirable is to realize i think it's inevitable they will build nuclear-tipped icbms in the next four or five years and hopefully by continuing to apply diplomatic pressure and to make it clear that any attack by north korea not just on the united states but on our allies would prompt a massive and immediate response, it would essentially put kim jong un in the position of committing suicide if he did
this. >> rose: it would bdid. >> goldberg: there are no good options. >> no, they're all terrible. and i've talked to people who have been studying it for years. >> goldberg: it's not tenable to have an unstable, hostile, bellicose regime that threat tons kill americans by delivering a nuclear weapon to honolulu or san francisco or any other city. saying after they kill us we'll kill them doesn't seem politically viable. >> it's not something any american president will say. i think that's where we'll end up but i don't think there is any other alternative. the other alternative is to get russia to apply enough pressure on north korea which up until today they have been reluctant to do to make them change. >> goldberg: let's pivot south
to whey in 1960 and we're pivoting back in time. i'm wondering if researching this book helped you understand the limitations of american power, the limits that we have in trying to dissuade regimes we don't like from behaving in ways we don't want to see them behave. >> vietnam is the example of limitations of military power. we were an overwhelmingly superior military force to the vietnam and vietcong, yet we weren't able to use the force to accomplish the goal we set for ourselves, and that goal was to protect and build essentially a democratic society in south vietnam. so we've seen again and again the united states tries to use military force to accomplish these sweeping goals in afghanistan and iraq. >> goldberg: this is fallujah before there was a fallujah. >> exactly. number one, it came at a time, i
don't know if it would be the same today, when racism and and arrogance led us to deeply underestimate the ability of the vietcong and the north vietnamese and nowhere is this more evident than this battle that took the united states command completely by surprise. >> goldberg: the united states won this battle and it's the moment you think and certainly walter cronkite thought we lost the war. give me one minute, if you can boil down 600 pages to one minute, give me one minute on why this was pivotal beyond the military meaning of what happened. >> right. well, in large part because, in the united states, president johnson and criminal william westmoreland had been selling this war to the american public as something that could be easily won. in fact, westmoreland came back to washington at the end of 1967 and gave a speech at the national press club where he said this war is almost over, we're moving into the final phase, we'll begun bringing
american troops home next year, and then not more than two months after he gave that speech, 10,000 north vietnamese and vietcong take over the third largest city in south vietnam and launch smument attacks on 100 cities in south vietnam. >> goldberg: they weren't listened to. >> in the skys of whey, the city was taken almost with very minor resistance. general westmoreland denied it had been taken even though hehead a c.i.a. report which told him that it had been. >> goldberg: ultimately the united states won the battle but this convinced the american people that there was no winning this war? >> and not just the american people. the south vietnamese people. i mean, the south vietnamese all through the vietnam war or what they call the american war were trying to align themselves with the victor. they don't want to be on the
wrong side when the power game is over, so the attacks all over south vietnam, the taking of whey, i think eroded a great deal of confidence the south vietnamese people had in the government. >> goldberg: mark bowden, pleasure to have you. >> thank you. >> goldberg: we continue now with foreign policy. for the first time in quite a while, our country and its leaders are questioning the underlying assumptions that governed foreign policy making since the end of world war ii especially concerning what america's role in the world should be. here to discuss these challenges from washington richard fontaine, president of the center for a new american century. here in new york is gideon rose, editor of foreign affairs magazine, and david miliband is here, president of the international rescue committee,
just returned from visiting south sudan and uganda. pleased to welcome them all to the program. thank you all for being here. there is the whole world to cover in the next period of time so we'll get to it. david, i want to come to world refugee day which we are celebrating today -- celebrating or -- >> marking. >> goldberg: marking. he's a diplomat and knows all the words. i want to come to the question of north korea. barack obama told donald trump as i mentioned to mark mark that this is the biggest problem that an american president is going to face in this next period of time. do you agree? and where do you see this going? do you see this going to confrontation? >> it's the greatest danger of an immediate, acute crisis, but i don't think we should ignore what's going on elsewhere, there is plenty of other places -- plenty of scope for con fill
filgration. i think donald trump stumbled on something important when he said he was willing to talk to the north koreans. >> goldberg: not only talk, he's going to invite them to the white house. >> he said he would even invite them to the white house. we confront a situation where the north koreans can't be rewarded for the behavior in the appalling death of the american citizen, and the most troubling thing is not that the chinese won't talk to the north koreans. the north koreans feel strong enough but they don't want to talk to the chinese. that speaks to the isolation and even rationality. the people like me don't dismiss the regime as rational. if they won't even talk to the chinese you begin to doubt their rationality. >> goldberg: richard, the death yesterday of this young american stude, does this horrific incident push us closer to a confrontation? >> i think it's one more sign of
the brutality both at home and what it is willing to do to foreigners who visit the country including americans. i don't think that it changes the geopolitical calculus all that much. the north koreans obviously pose a danger with their nuclear missile programs. there remain no good military options as discussed before and, so, i think, this, if anything, will stiffton spines of those in washington who are looking for what else there is to do about the problem of north korea, namely sanctions and deterrents and missile defense and things like that. >> goldberg: in washington, in the circles in which you travel, are there any people saying, yeah weshes need to go for preemptive strike and do something dramatic now, or not even right now but in the window between now and when they might be able to deliver a nuclear weapon to america? >> i think what this does is -- the short answer is no, no one
is talking about really the possibility of a strike unless that was an imminent conflaggation we could detect. but given the chemical weapons and the human scale of the conflict in the south, there simply is no good military option. that said, the president already tweeted today he seems to have given up on the notion china would somehow solve the north korean crisis for us and that's a refreshing and necessary corrective i think that might actually get us to a better policy going forward. >> goldberg: gideon you're a living personification of the foreign policy establishment. is there a broad consensus that the paradigms mark bowden lays out here, that there really is nothing to do except wait, contain, hope for the best?
>> yes. there continue to be two kinds of problems in national affairs. one everyone knows what to do but can't do it because politics is in the way. peace process, you could design a plan for the paddlessians that could work but we can't. the other problem is no one knows how to deal with, pakistan and north korea, nobody has a pakistan and north korea policy. syria another good one. these are problems that nobody really knows what to do, all the options are terrible, and the best you can hope for is to jolly the situation down the road a bit without blowing it up while trying to make it better as much as you can and lay the groundwork for more constructive stuff down the road. so you will never get a north korean solution. maybe with a lot of diplomacy you could get an interim agreement with the way richard haas talks about. any kind of military solution
would be a disaster and incredibly risky, nobody sane seems to want that but nobody has a good answer about making the problem go away either. >> goldberg: place north korea in the context of, i don't want to overstate it, but a trump foreign policy doctrine, then pivot to the question of is there a discernible trump foreign policy doctrine? >> right now, this is a very strange period in history, not only will books be written about this period offa the fact, we all know that, but it's very odd to live through because right now america doesn't really seem to have in one sense an articulated, coherent foreign policy of strategic doctrine. the trump administration which is running the country and running american foreign policy really hasn't articulated anything and their policies include some things that are radically different from the past, the same, and flip-flopped on enough things that nobody knows anything about what's going on. there are a series of actions but no coherent articulation into a strategy.
at the same time, the government is going on. for example, there are very few appointments made in this administration. david knows that as do you. you think, gee, they're not even staffing the government, how can they possibly run things? the jobs are being filled. people are in place doing the various assistant secretary jobs at the state department or deputies jobs, but they're either career bureaucrats, civil servants, temporary holdovers or appointees, which means everything is on auto pilot and everything is rolling forward without anything changes, so you have no foreign policy but the same continuing until further guidance. >> goldberg: richard, why don't they fill these jobs? >> well, they got a late start because so much of the transition work either hadn't been done or was discarded after the victory and the election. unlike the clinton campaign, they hadn't done the extensive planning that they may have done. then, you know, the pentagon is starting to roll out jobs, the
state department is doing a massive reorganization and a relook at its bureaucracy and is postponing things. then you have the talent pool issue, which is that a number -- a large number of those who would be political appointees in a more main stream republican administration from the foreign policy sort of rank and file came out in opposition to the trump campaign last year and so far are ineligible to go in, so they need to find individuals -- >> goldberg: ineligible or unwilling even if somebody wanted them? >> both but ineligible. if you look at those who for example signed letters opposing trump, i don't believe a single one entered the trump administration. >> goldberg: would you go in under any circumstance? >> never say never but being one of the signatories, i'm not standing by the phone waiting -- >> goldberg: so sometimes you would say never? >> well, yes, but, you know, it would all depend on circumstances. i think there is, you know, a compulsion to serve the country
if you think you can do something good but the circumstances would have to be right. you have to be in the service of a policy that you feel comfortable in pushing. >pushing. i think we've known for some time the administration is skeptical of multi-lateral engagement. i think there is -- >> goldberg: you still need people tone gauge in bilateral engagement such as ambassador. >> you do. we know there is a skepticism and i think that's bringing a sense of vacuum. but i think something else has become clear in the last couple of weeks that's significant and that's about the value the president placeons military action in its suite of foreign policy tools. we see that with respect to afghanistan. we see that in a range of areas. richard holbrooke warned on litterrization of diplomacy and said militarization without a political end game, all the trouble spots, we no that unless
you have a vision of a credible, legitimate sharing of political power as the end game to which politics and military action is driving you won't win. i think that's significant, to finish the point, the announcement over the last week that effectively all power in the afghanistan strategy is transferredo the pentagon is something the pentagon never wanted because it's always argued it's situated in a wider context. >> goldberg: does that make you feel better or worse given the specific circumstances of the trump foreign policy i think the good news is the generals let by defense secretary mattis knows the danger of wars. the bad news is they don't have the foreign policy at their disposal. they're going to get a huge increase in their budgets but they're seeing an unstaffed state department and a budget threatened with 30% cut. so they would be the first to say, i think, that they can't do it on their own and that's dangerous. >> i think we're in the slightly
more even scarier situation than the one david is describing because i think that essentially i'm not sure that president trump actually understands, cares about or thinks in terms of foreign policy. i've never heard him really use those terms. he talks about his generals, never his diplomats. he said nothing that the state department isn't staffed and is cutting it back. >> he seems to like tillerson. because he's a corporate c.e.o. he meets with c.e.o.s and generals and staffs up with generals in all sorts of places and cares about trade and talks about trade. if you look at his utterances and what he says, nowhere in there is there a discussion of allies, of the value of international institutions, nowhere is there talk of the international order or cooperation or foreign policy. >> goldberg: he is sending jared kushner to the middle east. >> i think he thinks in terms of a very traditional almost 19t
19th century view of foreign policy that has a mercantilist-economic component and a gun boat diplomacy military aspect and i think that's why there is nothing else going on. >> goldberg: richard, is this the least idealistic administration when it comes to foreign policy and national security that you've seen? >> yeah, i mean, in terms of the impulse to promote democracy and human rights, you would have to go back to the nixon-kissinger to see that lack of content in our foreign policy. to the previous point, i think the president comes in with an intuitive sense that there are elements of the international order which, you know, we foreign policy types think are very important and needs to be bolstered by u.s. power has actually made america a victim rather than great beneficiary of it, so that alliances don't necessarily accrue to our interest but countries get rich on the back of our protection,
that the international economic system creates jobs overseas and not at home, that the promotion of democracy and human rights is full at home and not part of what the united states should do. the difference is not everyone in his administration believes those principles and they're really inconsistently manifested in the policy. >> and i nick nikki haley speakn different ways than donald trump. on idealism, in your interaction so far as a world leader in the cause of solving refugee crises, what do you see that's different? the obama administration was not overly idealistic as far as human rights. >> what strikes me as a foreigner living and economic wt
stands in the stark contradiction -- in uganda and south sudan last year there was a pitiable sense among most of the poorest people in the world that said you need to tell president trump there are a million refugees arriving and they need to help. it was like america is a victim. >> goldberg: everyone's trying to game us. >> everyone has and you no longer tha have the ability to t out "other people's problems." that comes to me strongly and it's almost a sense of projecting national humiliation whereas those of us who are not americans who live and work here or observe the country see that whatever the difficulties that the country has been in, the idea you have been humiliated by the rest of the world which in
fact sees the u.s. as an anchor of the global system feels out of kilter. >> it's almost as if the president doesn't see himself as the head of the government or the united states as the head of the global order. so he talks about the international order, the international system not in the way that previous presidents have like madeleine albright's indispensable nation rhetoric which say europeans and americans areo arrogant they want to run the world. donald trump doesn't want to run the world. he doesn't care so much about running the american government. when he talks about it he talks about it as something other than him. when you say you signed off on the executive order, where does that come in, he seems to talk about the international order in the same way as it's something the united states had imposed on it in'dstead of something we created to get the most cooperation out of our allies which is odd. >> our friend ben rhodes referred to the foreign policy establishment as the blob and
it's been so pleasant to have so many outstanding figures of the blob to be here in one conversation. thank you for being here. >> rose: aziz ansari is here, he is the co-writer of "master of none." he stars as an actor in new york state seeking meaningful experiences. calls the collection vignettes. he's earned an emmy and peabody award and here's a look at it. >> mmm, this is really good. i told you. aren't you glad you're expanding your culinary horizons beyond italian? >> yes, i am. what shall i try when i'm in new york? >> mmm, indian food? i don't really like curry. racist. i said i didn't like curry
food, not kuri curry people. >> curry people, definitely racist. i'm not defined pi the flavors my people enjoy. do you call chinese soy sauce people? >> rose: pleased to have aziz ansari back on the program, welcome. >> thanks for having me back. >> rose: a second season suggests things are going well. >> yeah. >> rose: when you and alan pitched this, what did you tell the people at netflix? >> when we pitched it, we just said we want to do a show about me and kind of based on my observations for my standup, and we didn't really tell them too much, and the show really evolved because we had a long break between the time we pitched the show and time we actually did et because, in that period, we got another season of parksen rec which is the show alan and i worked on before, we
got episodes that were unexpected. we had time to marinate on what the show is and road through versions that were more standard versions of a show like this and pushed ourselves to come up with stuff that was more ambitious. >> rose: is it easier because you've drawn from your own life experiences to write it? >> it is but at a certain point, the period i've hit now is i'm kind of tapped, you know. i'm still a single guy living in new york and there is only so much i can write about that. but this season we did some things that were interesting. we did an ep showed called thanksgiving, one of the other actors lena plays one of my friends denise and it's about her experience dealing with her sexuality and coming out to her mother and it was fun to mime someone else other than myself. we did another episode where i'm
not even in it and it's about three random new yorkers, one a taxi driver, another person is a deaf woman who's a cashier, and the third person is a door man and we spent a lot of time interviewing people in these professions and interviewing deaf people and kind of learning about their experiences and it was a fun chal to kind of try to do what we do with me with these other people. >> rose: does that explain the success of this show, the fact that you really try to learn what it's like through the experiences of other people? >> i think that is the core element of the show that resonates with people, this genuine curiosity thing alan and i have in the first season, you know, the episode about our parents, that one took off and came from a real place of alan and i being curious about the struggles of our parents and their journey here and everything. >> rose: what did you accomplish in season one? what did you want to accomplish in season one other than establish character? >> well, i think in season one
we wanted to make a show that we thought was good and met our own standards and what it ended up doing went far beyond our expectations. you know, the show got a lot of press and stuff for just the idea of someone that looks like ming with a romantic lead in all this stuff, and it was not stuff we thought about at all. people were, like, oh, my god, the show is so diverse, and me and alan are, like, when me and alan have lunch, that's pretty diverse but we don't think about that. we have a guy playing a version of alan and him and me are doing a scene together, that's not diverse, that's our lives, that's what it's like when we have lunch. >> rose: do you stay away from sexually explicit stuff? >> i think we write whatever is interesting. in the first season, the scenes that were more sexually explicit. we did this episode called mornings which was about a long-term relationship and you
saw different mornings, and you kind of saw how the sex became boring for this couple and how something like when they have, you know, on a chair or something at first is exciting and then became routine. it was fun to write it, then we had to film it and i was, like, oh, man, what have i written. this season, there is almost no sexually explicit stuff. the main romantic arc is with a woman my character meets in italy named francesca you showed in the clip and it was more internal and emotional and inspired by these films i was watching a lot and trying to show more of an internal drama. >> rose: that drives a send season is this. >> that's kind of the main -- you know, the second half of the second season, when it gets to my character, it's kind of about him exploring this relationship and, in the beginning, he's kind of dating around and just trying to find that connection and, you know, we do an episode about him being on a dating app and stuff and you see him going through
the my not any of dating. really i think it's just about this guy, you know, trying to do what me and alan and other people are doing and trying to find a connection with someone. he finds it andeth with this woman that's engaged and he doesn't know what to do. >> rose: right, people are fascinated and driven by uh the idea of can i find a connection that somehow broadens my network of people and my sense of belonging, wherever it is. people are looking to belong, to have some way of feeling that they're not alone. >> yeah, and i think, you know, alan and i were talking about this recently. i think as you get, you know, even in our 30s, we feel like, okay, how many more times am i going to feel that really strong connection with someone? even with all these dating apps and stuff, you feel, oh, how many times am i going to feel that magic. >> rose: it doesn't slow dow rey
unavailable. you're so excited about it but it's unavailable. >> rose: you spent a month alone in italy? >> i was there about two months. i kind of did what the character did and went to the small town and i didn't know anybody. >> rose: speak italian? i took three weeks of italian classes with the teacher in new york before i went. i wasn't very good. when you learn in those situations you end up speaking very formal and people make fun of you as soon as you get there. i uh didn't know anybody. i had a couple of friends of friends and i just started -- i worked in the pasta shop that you see in the opening of the show, and also the restaurant that we eat at in the first episode and a little bit in the french restaurant we eat in in the second episode. i learn how to make pasta and
speak italian better. but also -- you know, i really did it in the beginning for research for the show but it ended up being something really valuable for me, aziz, the real person as well, just to kind of live somewhere else besides new york or l.a. for a while and be out of that environment. i realized how much time i spent in new york and l.a. which are two very crazy places. it was nice to live somewhere small where no one knew who i was. >> rose: do they have the same cast of characters you find to play off of? >> i didn't know anybody and when we to the -- do the episodes, we didn't use characters from the first season. the first episode was a bit of a challenge because it's, like, we're not bringing back the characters. it's not in italy, it's in new york, not in black and white mostly italian. the first one was tricky but i feel like we pulled it off. the second one my best friend
arnold comes and visits me and eric is one of my best friends, who place arnold, and he came to visit me, and when he came to visit me, i was, like, just come to visit me for a week and i'm sure something will happen we can put in the show. sure enough we went to sicily together and driving around and saw a very small alley and the g.p.s. was turning into this ally, i don't think we can do it, and we saw a truck barrel through and we're, like, all right, we'll be fine. we pulled the mirrors in and got stuck. >> rose:. >> rose: due to this and standup at the same time? >> i don't. when i hosted the "saturday night live" "saturday night live" i did a month of standup to get ready. >> rose: you did a month of standup just to get ready to be back on stage with that audience? >> i knew that monologue was going to be a heavily watched thing. "saturday night live" was big, going to be the day after the inauguration of trump, so i knew it would be a big show.
i had no material. the other material i had i put in a special. i had to start from scratch and start figuring out what the set was. estarted going to the comedy club as much as i can and trying to write and figure out what my take is on it because it's a very hard thing to write about because everyone's talk about it. you want a unique take and everyone will watch. it's a high pressure standup set. i didn't go to christmas. i stayed in new york. sometimes i would do seven or eight sets a night to keep working and get in shape. >> rose: and you do that in a month. >> a month is a long time in a way. it's actually not that long. i don't know, it was hard but i worked really hard and i got in shape and felt really good about it. >> rose: why not do standup and the series? the two might get in the way of each other? >> the series is all consuming. i'm pretty much in every scene
except in the episode i'm not in. i get there in the morning -- if i get there at 7:00, i leave at 8:00 or 9:00 to work that's day and be, like, i'm going to hit the clubs the rest of the night, i would go nuts. phi do standup -- if i do standup i have to get obsessed. >> rose: all the people i know that are successful are obsessed. >> yeah, and with standup, there is no i do one set. let's say i did "master of none" at 6:00 and did a set at 7:30. i would say -- one would work well, the other wouldn't. i would fix that, i would keep going until late that night and not sleep well and do a horrible job on "master of none" the next day. so i keep those things separate in order to not spread myself thin. >> rose: what role has chris
rock been for you. >> a mentor/uncle/hero. many roles. he's someone who i just -- he's one of the smartest people i've met period. there's a few create i've people i've met in my life. i have been lucky to meet a lot of create i've people i look up to a lot and he's one of the people i trust and listen to and i think is smarter than a lot of people. >> goldberg: but what kind of advice would he give you? he knows the world that you're trying to be the best at. >> well, i mean, he told me a great thing when i was getting ready for "snl." he texted me one time, you know, i would send him, you know, some audio files of sets every now and then but, one thing he told me early on, he said, this is going to be the biggest standup set you ever do and the thing he said that stuck with me is he said, be big, seize the moment. >> rose: be big, seize the moment. >> be big, seize the moment. >> rose: this is what he told vulture about your success.
he's got great taste, and taste is the most overlooked. if you're really funny and pick good jokes and your shows are tacky and bad and you don't know how to cast, you're not funny but aziz has taste. a comedian's number one aspect in life is taste. do you agree? >> i do. i thought that was a smart quote when i read that piece. so much of the show, it's me and alan's taste. we pick the font that "master of none" is. we're very hands on with the music, the wardrobe, everything. we're you're overseeing a show like this, i mean, i guess there are some people that are probably not as particular as everything, but alan and i are pretty hands on and the people we hire to do all these things we really trust and we try to make sure everything is done for a reason and we're pretty specific about stuff. >> rose: do you get back to south carolina. >> not really, my parents live in north carolina. >> rose: where?
outside of charlotte. >> rose: yeah. i go back to see them every now and then but i try to get them to come -- >> rose: are they surprised by this at all? not that you're successful but that it's comedy. >> i'm surprised. >> rose: would they have looked at you when you were growing up and saying he's the funniest kid on the block, he's the funniest did i know. >> i think they wool say i like making people laugh. i was comfortable with public speaking. i remember being five and six and making speeches and not being scared. which is crazy to think about when you hear how in general people are terrified of public speaking. imagine being a kid and not having the fear at all is very weird, i think. yeah, i mean, i think a career in entertainment is so unexpected no matter who you are. i guess there are some people when they're four years old that
are, like, i want to be an actor but when you grow up in south carolina your dreams are much more muted. >> rose: i think this refers to something you said earlier, there's unlikely to be a third series here. >> i don't know, you know, people -- as soon as i started doing interviews for a second season, people are, like, when's the third season? i was, like, hey, man, i just finished this so leave me alone. >> rose: yeah. i don't want to say it's unlikely there is a third season, i just think now i need a break and i would love to have experiences. you know, i think i only want to do the show when i'm really inspired and feel like my notebook is full of ideas. when i started doing the show i had so many ideas. i use a lot of them in the series. you know, i wouldn't want to do a third season unless i felt it was as inspired as what we'd done. many and alan joke, oh, we would love to do a "master of none" season when we're 70 years old,
or maybe a few years from now when we're married and have kids and we'll have observations about that. but it's tough to think of doing ten episodes to have the depth of what we've done of a guy finding a connection when he's eating around town. i'm find of tapped. >> rose: many comedians have come here and i said why did you quit and stop at three or four or five or whatever the number would be and they said i was repeating myself because i didn't have anything new to say. the best will come and say that and take a time off go, make a movie and do something else, then come back, or continue to make movies and do some other aspect of the entertainment world. >> "master of none" is the funnest job i've ever had, maybe ever will have. >> rose: because? make something i'm really proud of with my best friends and entire media family. my brother works on it with me every day. my family comes.
i get to sit and laugh with my dad. it's such a unique experience. >> rose: what does he think of it? >> he loves acting. i never knew till recently he tried to start, like, a drama program in his school in india when he was in high school and stuff and they did some productions and stuff, but, you know, he's a very funny guy and loves making people laugh and, yeah, he lost acting in the show and stuff and, you know, when we have moments, the emmy and things like that, obviously your parents are very proud and for them to be so integral to the whole success of it, it's a very unique thing. >> rose: how much of a need do you feel to speak out on political issues? not need or even obligation. how much of a sense that it's something you feel you have to do? >> i kind of just -- i feel it when i feel it, you know. i wrote an op-ed for the "new
york times" at one point about islamophobia, and i did that because i knew that if i did that, a lot of people would get ahold of it, and it's one of the things i've done in my career that people have come up to me more than anything, an op-ed pho the "new york times," a comedian, really unique that hit so hard. i didn't know how much it would resonate. i thought maybe it would get spread around amongst people that look like me, but i had people from all walks of life, you know, come up to me and say, hey, i read that and it was really cool you wrote that in. that moment, it felt i needed to do that and i'm glad i did. as far as "master of none" and my standup, it needs to come from a general play. i thought the bit i did for "saturday night live" was funny but i would never want to do something if i didn't have a
real inspiration behind et. the "new york times" op-ed was coming from a real place because it's, like, all right, this is my parents, you know, and i'm in this unique position, it felt like the right hinge to do. i never just write because i have to. i write when i'm inspired. >> rose: great to have you back. >> thanks for having me. >> rose: thanks for joining us. see you next time. for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at pbs.org and charlierose.com. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org