Namaste to Sydney (18-21 May) and Melbourne (25-27 May) from Vir Das !

By Neeru Saluja

Comedian-actor Vir Das is ready to board Sydney for his ˜Boarding Das World Tour”. And in his suitcase he has packed lots of funny jokes, politics, travel and personal stories along with his Indian accent!

India’s highest selling comedian Vir Das who is part of the Sydney Comedy Festival is now the first Indian comedian to take his show to Netflix. On 25 April, his show Abroad Understanding became an overnight sensation making him the talk of the world.

Born in India, raised in Africa and schooled in America, Vir Das has become a global phenomenon with his universally funny comedy. He is also a popular face in Bollywood appearing in over 15 films including Delhi Belly, Namaste London, Love Aaj Kal, Revolver Rani, Badmaash Company, Shivaay, Mastizaade and Shaadi ke Side Effects.

Looking forward to his debut tour in Australia where he performs for the first time in Sydney (18-21 May) and Melbourne (25-27 May), the Indian Down Under didn’t miss a chance to talk to him before he arrives. Goes without saying that the conversation was witty and hilarious, it also gave us an insight into what we can expect from his show.

“I’m very excited to perform in Australia. I hope all the shows are sold out. Its my next stop after doing 43 shows in 36 days in America where 40 out of 43 shows were sold out. But those shows were a rehearsal for Australia, so now all my shitty jokes are gone,” laughs Vir.

I’m sure you have many more jokes up your sleeve! So would you change your jokes depending on the country?

Be it any country you have to find common points, references and gags to talk about. Before coming to Sydney and Melbourne, I read the local newspapers a week or so ahead to keep myself abreast on what’s happening. Having said that, it boils down to the room where you are performing, not the country. Sometimes the audience can get a bit uncomfortable, they can be conservative while at other times the audience can be raunchy.

Vir Das in Patel ki Punjabi Shaadi

True, it’s not like Bollywood. In stand-up comedy there are no retakes¦

There are no retakes but in stand-up comedy you can get the reaction of the audience instantly. If they like your joke, they will laugh. If not, you have to move on to another act. While in Bollywood you have to wait nine months to find out if the audience has liked the film! Stand-up comedy is much easier platform to work with.

You are known as India’s biggest comedian and “The Funniest Kid in India”. How did you get into stand-up comedy and make a mark in India?

I was in an acting program in US and at the end of the program there was a stand-up comedy program. While most of the students wrote plays, I ended up writing a comedy show which I was always passionate about. The show went well and as they say comedy is like a drug and I got hooked for life!

Stand-up comedy in Hindi has been happening in India since hundreds of years. But when I went back to India in 2004-2005 there were only a few elder people who were doing it in posh country clubs in South Mumbai. And I was this young kid who showed up and talked about really edgy and young things, so I got a fan base very fast. Now there are enough comedians so if you are innovative and creative you stand out. And to me, that’s a very exciting phase to be in.

What inspires you to be creative and innovative with every show?

m constantly evolving and challenging myself when I write and perform my shows. I try to have a new show every eighteen months. Four to five months is spent on writing, then a few months on rehearsal and then there is a year long process of performing the show. The process starts when I start looking around, deciding what I want the show to be about. The Boarding Das show is about a journey across the world. The inspiration comes from my own personal journey of revaluating. Starting to travel around the world was a big decision for me. I normally do 4-5 films and now I can only do one or two shows. This is a very time consuming. But if I don’t do it, I will always regret it. It’s about finding risk and freedom in your work. Every comedy show is a reflection of your own stage in life.

Comedians usually bring their culture and personal experiences in their show. Will we get to see the Indian in Vir Das?

I open the show by saying I’m an Indian and have an Indian accent. The world is ready and responsive to an Indian perspective.

Vir Das with Rishi Kapoor

How do you balance between being a stand-up comedian and a Bollywood actor as both are full time demanding jobs? What do you prefer the most?

It’s all about good time management. You have to be in the company of right people. I’ve got a supportive wife, a good family and an effective management style.

I like the perfect balance of two. I couldn’t spend 52 weeks on the road neither could I spend 52 weeks shooting films. Both are creative mediums and it’s a good balance of two.

Talking about Bollywood, how come you have never been stereotyped as a comedian in films?

Because no one expects me to be in Bollywood! I’m 5 feet 8 inches and have no contacts in Bollywood. Every role I have done has been different. It’s all about trying not to be the typical stereotyped funny man.

So what will Australia expect from Vir Das in his show?

You will expect a lot of sex, a lot of politics, a lot of travel, personal stories from my childhood and failures. As much as I make fun of myself I shall also pick on the audience. It will all be unapologetic behaviour!

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