UPPER WEST SIDE — He's a cutup on TV who can cut grass, too.
Actor/comedian Aziz Ansari put his "Parks and Recreation" skills to work early Monday morning, pitching in on Central Park's first grass mowing of the season to mark the start of spring with officials from the Parks Department and the Central Park Conservancy.
Ansari, who plays dreamer and tireless ladies' man Tom Haverford on the NBC comedy about a parks department in smalltown Pawnee, Ind., hopped on a riding mower shortly after 8 a.m. and took the roaring machine for a quick spin on the 14-acre Sheep Meadow.
"When I initially agreed to do this, I thought it would be later in the day and that I would be getting a key to the city," a bleary-eyed Ansari told reporters.
"Instead it's really early and I'm getting a key to the city's lawnmower, which I guess is kind of nice. I'll put that along with the other city keys I have — the key to the city's juicer, the key to the city's vacuum cleaner, and of course the key to the city's Showtime rotisserie grill."
Just before he climbed aboard a car-sized Toro riding mower, Ansari quipped, "Me and the other brown people are now going to mow the lawn." A Parks Department maintenance worker named Jose had given the comedian a quick tutorial on how to operate the mower, and Ansari seemed to handle it with ease as Jose and two other maintenance employees observed from a few feet away.
Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said he's seen "Parks and Recreation" and thinks the show is funny.
"It does actually touch on our lives and some of the crazy things that we have happened," Benepe said. "They actually make us proud at Parks to do the work that we do."
Central Park's verdant lawns are closed to the public during the winter for maintenance. They'll officially reopen on Sat., April 7.