As an Indian living in Britain, it’s not every day that I get the chance to see a famous comedian from back home. But Vir Das is well-known and well-loved in India – as evidenced by close to two million followers on Twitter – and seeing him in person was a lovely treat.
The 60-minute set is less structured in terms of a running theme, and rather has a stream-of-consciousness feel. Das talks about his own experiences of traveling across the world, both as a student and as a professional. He intersperses this with universally-recognisable themes of religion, love, relationships, sex, war… and Donald Trump. He keeps the humour quite broad in terms of reach, which is a smart move for an audience which seemed to be well mixed between Indian and British.
Some of his lines are deliciously comic – the jokes he cannot crack back home, the trials of a long-distance relationship followed by the triumph of a chance encounter. There are some cynical comments on the inadequacy of Skype thrown in for good measure as well. From strange Bacardi and Mountain Dew mix recipes, to the innocuous American free-clinic doctor fondling random brown balls, you will be entertained throughout the hour. Though be warned, audience participation is required!
Sometimes he runs into familiar territory – talking about the conservativeness of Indian society and the terrible Bollywood music of the 90s – and some of the material is, to be honest, done to death. There are only so many jokes that can be cracked about Indian engineers and the action (or lack thereof) they get with the ladies. A couple of times, cultural awareness seems to let him down as well: asking “Who is a Christian?” is far less likely to elicit “Yeahs” from the audience than the seemingly equivalent “Who is a Hindu?” Having lived in both cultures, I know the weight of describing yourself as Christian is much greater than the loose comfortable relationship many Hindus enjoy with their faith.
But even so, Das does a fantastic job of engaging with the audience in a faraway town on a Monday night. His comedy, boyish good looks, and disarming style are universally appealing. So listen to those two million followers, and go for an Indian this Fringe!