Finding the funny in little things

Vir Das (above) is the first Indian comedian to get a Netflix comedy special, which will be aired later this year.
Vir Das (above) is the first Indian comedian to get a Netflix comedy special, which will be aired later this year.PHOTO: SALAMAT HUSAIN

Indian stand-up comedian and actor Vir Das sees the lighter side of things that people do not normally think of as funny

8Q

The past year has been a tremendous one for Indian stand-up comedian and actor Vir Das.

Last January, the charming 37- year-old signed on with Levity Entertainment Group, an American entertainment juggernaut that has worked with the likes of popular comedians such as Amy Schumer and Trevor Noah.

He went on a second solo tour in the United States in addition to one across India.

Das also starred in four Bollywood flicks and had his first taste of taking on a serious lead role in 31st October, a biopic on the aftermath of former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi's assassination.

To top it off, he clinched a Netflix Original Comedy Special late last year, a notable feat considering he is the first Indian to do so. The special will air on Netflix later this year.

  • BOOK IT / HISTORY OF INDIA BY VIR DAS

  • WHERE: Esplanade Theatre, 1 Esplanade Drive

    WHEN: Saturday, 8pm

    ADMISSION: $45 to $185 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)

When The Straits Times asked Das during a telephone interview what his new year's resolutions for 2017 are, he quips: "To try and get eight hours of sleep".

Joking aside, it is hardly surprising that he is barely clocking in sufficient shuteye with a jam- packed schedule that has him travelling all year round.

The hardworking entertainer will be in Singapore on Saturday for a comedy show titled History Of India at the Esplanade. In it, he offers his hilarious take on the lengthy history of his hometown covering every major event from "2,000 BC up until last week".

Based in Bombay, Das is married with no children.

It was in college that he was bitten by the comedy bug. Since then, he has been tirelessly working the stand-up circuit and has since gained a large enough following to become India's biggest comedy export. In 2010, he founded Weirdass Comedy, a company that organises all things funny, including comedy shows and festivals, in India. And he does all this while juggling a career in acting as well. His credits include 16 films and numerous television shows.

"I worked hard to get to this stage, so it's a good stage in life and worth all the hard work."

1 You are a comedian and an actor, but which do you love doing more?

Stand-up comedy is a solo process while acting is collaborative. Stand- up can be an hour long while shooting for a film may take many months. With stand-up, the feedback is instantaneous, but with acting, it can take months or years. So it's good to have a healthy balance of both.

2 You took on more serious film roles last year. Which was your toughest?

I was able to branch out and not just take on comedic roles, so it's been a challenging but rewarding time in acting. My toughest role would be the one in 31st October, where I played the role of a father, a character I had never taken on before. I had to put on 15kg, learn Punjabi and grow a beard too.

3 Are there any particular acting roles you hope to pursue this year?

Good roles that pay a lot of money.

I'm working on a comedy film as well as an action film with guns, explosions and all that stuff. So there will be a good variety this year.

4 How does it feel to be the first Indian comedian to get a Netflix comedy special?

I'm working really hard on it to ensure that I say all the right things. I will be talking about what it means to be an Indian in today's world.

5 How would you define your sense of humour?

It's observational, personal and, at the same time, derived from things that people don't normally think of as funny.

I like to think of my comedy as finding the funny in the little things.

6 How is the comedy scene in India?

People from India are consuming and embracing comedy from across the world more now.

It sets the bar high in India for comedians as now, you have to innovate to attract audiences. You need to be unique and original.

7 You are also in a comedy-rock band called Alien Chutney. How did that quirky name come about?

That's a funny story, actually.

People expect a really elaborate process behind a band name. We just opened a dictionary, placed our fingers on two words and there you have it.

8 How would you like to be remembered?

As being ridiculously handsome.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2017, with the headline 'Finding the funny in little things'. Print Edition | Subscribe