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Updated: October 2, 2013 12:35 IST

Addicted to laughter

Harshini Vakkalanka
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Politics is funny in India: Vir Das. Photo: Anu Pushkarna
The Hindu
Politics is funny in India: Vir Das. Photo: Anu Pushkarna

Vir Das tells us that there’s no better audience than an Indian audience, provided you capture its attention in the first two minutes

What keeps Vir Das going, he says, is the thought of making a thousand people, who have all come looking for it, laugh.

“It’s a lot of positive energy. These are all people who work hard through the week and when they sit on the show, they help me with my problems and I help them with theirs and after that one hour we leave. Laughter can get you through anything. So comedy is really about your life and problems,” says Vir Das, over telephone.

Vir recently performed in the city in a live show organised by Round Table India and Ladies Circle India.

“I love getting to travel and meeting people. I like the laughter of the crowds. I feel energised in that one hour, where I can tell the truth which I cannot say out loud otherwise. It’s gratifying. I consider myself an observational comic, a truthful comic.”

Vir says it was always his intention to come back to India, after his bachelor’s degree in economics and theatre from Knox College, Illinois followed by the Stanislavsky Program at Harvard University.

“I did four years of serious acting, I wanted to do something more organic. I was watching stand-up for a long time and so at the end of the degree I started writing it down.”

Vir feels that stand-up in India works a little differently and great comedians, he says, may claim India doesn’t have a funny bone for stand-up, “but I think that’s lazy, it’s a cop-out. The trick is to get them in the first two minutes. If you grab their attention in the first two minutes, there is no better crowd than an Indian crowd.”

“And politics is funny in India because they are always in the spotlight and it is one of the things that matters most in India, along with cricket and religion. People like to laugh at things that frustrate them the most.”

That is part of his creative process as a comic. “I look around at people and what’s happening and I make notes. I closely observe what’s going on instead of just going through it. So it takes me three months to get an act together with two months of writing and one month of rehearsing.”

But Bollywood just happened. “Offers simply came in. I had been wanting to act for a while. Both acting and comedy are an integral part of my life. I have been doing comedy for a while then acting is relaxing and if I have been acting for a while then I find comedy refreshing.”

Vir, who is known for his work in films like Go Goa Gone and Delhi Belly apart from many shows on television (News On The Loose or Now Not Showing With Vir Das), says he now has five released lined-up in the next 10 months, kicking off with Sooper Se Oopar. “This means you will see me in a movie every two months.”

What about Hollywood? “I tour internationally, but I am not going to act in films abroad. I don’t want to be cast as a terrorist when I can get a decent role in India.”

But Vir does not really have a vision for himself. “I have no plants. If I had any planning ability, I’d be an investment banker,” he signs off.

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