On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Hank Azaria, who does the voice of Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon on The Simpsons, addressed the outrage over the Indian character that has only grown worse since the show’s nonresponse earlier this month. Since the release of a documentary called The Problem with Apu by comedian Hari Kondabolu, the notion that Apu perpetuates racial stereotypes has only gained momentum. The Simpsons responded with a scene in which Lisa says, “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” Marge responds, “Some things will be dealt with at a later date.” To which Lisa says, “If at all.”
Azaria made it clear that he wasn’t even aware of the scene, and said of it, “I think that if anybody came away from that segment feeling that they should lighten up or take a joke better or grow a thicker skin…it’s certainly not the way I feel about it, and that’s definitely not the message that I want to send.”
Azaria said he’d like to see Indian or South Asian writers to help inform whatever new direction in which they could take Apu. He also said he’d be willing to let Apu go if that’s what’s necessary. Azaria would still be a huge part of The Simpsons given that he does dozens of voices for the show besides Apu.
“I’m perfectly willing and happy to step aside or help transition it into something new,” Azaria said. “I really hope that's what The Simpsons does. And it not only makes sense, but it just feels like the right thing to do to me.”