The Simpsons star Azaria willing to step aside from Apu

Comedian Hank Azaria hopes the Fox sitcom character doesn't lead to any bullying or discrimination against people of Indian descent

Apu (pictured left) from The Simpsons and the actor that voices the character Hank Azaria (pictured right).

Azaria indicated he was open to change regarding his role as Apu.

Apu, the Indian-American Kwik-E-Mart owner in Springfield, has been a mainstay character on the show for 29 seasons. The Fox show's apparent response to the documentary, embedded within an episode of the animated series this month, stoked the public debate to new levels, with some cultural critics interpreting the show's stance as one of smug indifference. Azaria, an actor known his affability who has voiced more than 20 voices on "The Simpsons" over the years, told Colbert that he has become more aware over the past years that his character offends some viewers.

"I really want to see Indian, South Asian writers in the writers room - including how [Apu] is voiced or not voiced".

Azaria added that the edition of Indian and other South Asian writers on "The Simpsons" staff "not in a token way", is necessary.

"I'm perfectly willing and happy to step aside, or help transition it into something new".

On April 8, The Simpsons aired the episode No Good Read Goes Unpunished, in which the family sets aside electronic devices for books.

"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 ... that's definitely not the message I want to send."

"The idea that anybody, young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased based on the character of Apu - it just really makes me sad", Azaria said on the Late Show.

Writers had the character of Lisa Simpson respond to a question from her mother Marge by saying, "Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect".

Next to Lisa was a framed picture of Apu signed with the inscription in an unsubtle dig: "Don't have a cow".

But criticism of the character resurfaced after comedian Hari Kondabolu looked into the representation of South Asians in his documentary "The Problem With Apu".

But in response to Tuesday's Colbert episode, Kondabolu tweeted: "Thank you, Hank Azaria". He said in 2007 that when he auditioned for the show, the creators asked him, "Can you do an Indian voice, and how offensive can you make it?"



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