Vir Das, the actor-comedian who kick-started his acting career with Vipul Amrutlal Shah’s Namaste London, has always been real and relatable during both, his comedy sets and in interviews.
In an exclusive interview with ScoopWhoop, the actor talks about several things – ranging from supporting local artists and comedians doing crowdwork to what keeps him motivated.
The actor-comedian is embarking on Mind Fool, which is the biggest tour ever by a desi comedian and includes gigs in 33 countries across the world. We asked him about the tour and he explained how the set will be relatable to every adult, who just can’t grow up.
“The tour is entirely about adulting and not knowing how to adapt. It’s from the perspective of somebody who’s supposed to be an adult and should allegedly know all of these wonderful things but has absolutely no idea what they are. I think most adults really feel like children trapped in an adult’s body and that they don’t have their shit together, which is, you know, I think what the show is essentially about.”
The renowned comedian has also invited several local artists, including singers, stylists and filmmakers, for his tour to express themselves and put their work out. Of course, it’s a paid opportunity.
“If you are an artist, you should charge for your work and should be paid for your work. I think when you start paying people, you get their best work, their best value and their best idea. To me, a lot of the evolution of art is maintained by knowing what’s young, what’s new, what’s right and what’s vibrant.”
He also mentioned that celebrities often create a bubble around them and never know what’s trending outside their comfort zone.
The actor-turned-comedian attended the Indian Language School in Lagos, Nigeria. We asked him if he found any similarities between Nigeria and India.
“I actually think Nigerian people and Indian people are very similar. We are all very loving, loud and emotional people. I just think that in Nigeria, I was an outsider and then we came to our homeland and we finally felt at home. It has also impacted my comedic perspective.”
When we asked him about how he developed an interest in comedy, he had the most hilarious and iconic response.
“To be honest, I’m still in two minds about this career. It’s like maybe I’ll stop tomorrow or maybe I’ll restart it. So, to answer your question honestly, I’m still on the fence about it. Let’s do 33 countries and then I might have the answer for this.”
There are several on-stage performers who perform a ritual before going on-stage and we asked him if he has any such ritual and damn, he got us!
“I do 1000 push-ups before I got on stage… Haha, I’m joking. I have a cup of chai and I thank god. I think of my family and I warm up my voice because I have to talk for an hour or five. Then, I go on stage and do my job. It’s very, very chilled in that sense.”
There’s no doubt that crowdsource work is becoming very popular among stand-up comedians and we asked for his views on the same.
“The crowdwork gives you a sense of the atmosphere of the show and entices people to want to come and be part of that act. I don’t think it’s necessary, but whatever gets people to the show is what you should do. I’m a big believer in marketing and crowdwork is mainly marketing. So, if you’re doing damn good crowdwork, it means people will show up and see you be damn good on stage.”
We also asked him how important and validating awards are for him, to which, he had a to-the-point answer.
“Not at all, and I say that with all due respect. Also, just because they’re not important to me, doesn’t mean they’re not important to others. Of course, I’m just saying they’re not important to me.”
Since he has been a part of both Hollywood and Bollywood projects, we asked him if there was something that Hollywood can learn from our cinema and well, his response didn’t disappoint.
“Yes, a lot of things – passion, commitment, how to shoot fast, how to employ entirely down the chain without too much paperwork in order and how to get newcomers more of an opportunity. You know, it’s much tougher to break into Hollywood than it is to break into the Indian film industry. In fact, the average age of an employee in the Indian film industry is much younger than the average age of an employee in Hollywood.”
We asked him if he ever looks back at his iconic (and controversial) stand-up monologue, Two Indias, and he asked why should we, in return.
“Why would you look back? I only look forward. In fact, I don’t look at my own backside in the mirror. I only face forward. Why would you want to see your own ass? There’s no chance you should ever look back on any situation. But, if you want to know my thoughts, buy a ticket to my show because my thoughts cost money.”
From kavi sammelans and laughter challenges to stand-up comedy sets, we have come a long way and we wanted to know the comedian’s thoughts on this evolution.
“I think it’s great. I think it’s just gotten bigger and bigger. What I like about comedy is it’s very democratic. And because it’s such a consumable genre, you can consume comedy 3-4 times a day, in different formats and there’s enough audience for everybody. If you look at it right now, every kavi is on tour, Kapil Sharma is on tour, I’m on tour and even younger comics are on tour. We’re all on tour across the world with different types of comedy. In comedy, there’s no famine mindset. Yeah, there’s enough success for everybody and we can all share it.”
To conclude, we asked him about the upcoming project that he was most excited about.
“I’m going to make a protein shake in about half an hour, and that’s the project I’m most excited about because I’m on a diet for a project. I don’t get to have too much sugar so when I make this protein shake, it’s the closest I come to having some chocolate. And, that is the project I’m most excited about.”
Being brutally honest, like always!