Dubai: Indian comedian Vir Das loves coming back to the city

The Bollywood actor will perform as part of Dubai Comedy Festival on May 13

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Husain Rizvi

Published: Wed 11 May 2022, 5:44 PM

Last updated: Wed 11 May 2022, 8:30 PM

Are you ready for endless laughs? If not, then brace yourselves as Dubai Comedy Festival begins today and several comedians are making their way to the city for 11 days of laughs.

Among the funniest men and women coming to Dubai for the show, is Vir Das, an Indian actor who is now more famous for his stand-ups. If you don’t know Vir, you should simply move to one of the ‘two Indias!’ Jokes apart, Vir is set to perform in Dubai as part of his The Wanted Tour at The Agenda, Dubai Media City on Friday, May 13.

“I promise that I always want to send you home,” he tells City Times in a conversation over Zoom. “Having learned new things, and sharing a bit of my soul with you, I will make you uncomfortable, and I will make you happy. There will be silly moments, and if you are from India, I know you are not home, but I will be the guy who takes you home.”Excerpts from the interview:

What do you feel about the Dubai audience?

I think it’s a great audience. You know, it’s very cosmopolitan and diverse. They’re from everywhere. And I think they are exposed to other cultures and life stories, and are willing to go on a journey with you to new places. So I’m always happy to come back to Dubai. Of course, we have largely Indian people come out, but then, places like Dubai, people from everywhere come to the show.

Do you prepare differently for certain audiences, or is it all just the same?

It’s largely the same because you want to do a little bit of material about where they’re from. So it is about five or six minutes of material about them. But at the end of the day, the audience is coming for you to take them somewhere they’ve never been, and for you to tell them an authentic story they’ve never heard.

Stand-up used to be about, ‘let me talk to you about the five things you know’, and now stand-up is largely becoming about ‘let me talk to you about the five things you don’t know, or haven’t heard’. So it is about taking you to some new place.

And how do you prepare for how stand-ups are now?

I write a script, bit by bit, 10 minutes at a time, and then I go and work it out for 10 minutes in clubs. And when that’s done, it becomes a 90-minute show and I put it up here. It’s really not rocket science, you just write and tell the joke.

How did you get into stand-up comedy?

I’ve just always been comfortable on stage since I was about four or five years old. I spent a lot of time just debating and dramatics since I was also in drama school. But I was always a fan of stand-up. I always loved Eddie Murphy, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Johnny Lever. So, when I was 23 years old, and I was out of college, I started trying stand-up.

And then, how was the transition from comedy to acting?

I trained to be an actor. I went to drama school. I have a bachelor’s in drama. So I kind of always knew I wanted to be some form of actor, filmmaker, or a content creator. That’s something I knew since I was 16 and I definitely wanted to do that.

How should the audience perceive comedians?

I don’t think you get to control how people perceive you, especially once you start performing for a certain size of audience. There’s every kind of audience; some people will think you’re hilarious and some will think you’re edgy, but hilarious. You can’t predict and I don’t think you should worry about those things. How an audience member perceives you will be dependent also on how good you were on the day, how good they felt on the day, and many other things contribute to that.

And how do you perceive your audience?

I am grateful. I know how many options they had that evening, especially in cities like Mumbai, Dubai, or New York, I know people can be anywhere else. And I know that some of them are saving for a while to come and see my show, some are getting babysitters and that many are driving distances. So, I don’t think you go out on stage with anything but full of gratitude for the audience at the show.

Streaming platforms are providing a better platform for comedians than live comedy shows…

I don’t think one exists without the other. Streaming platforms are putting comedy shows on their platform. So you have to shoot a stand-up special as a live show before it becomes a streaming show. And, in order to shoot a stand-up special for a streaming platform, you have to do 80 to 100 shows to make sure it’s a great show. So those two exist very much in conjunction with each other. One leads to the other. If you do really good shows live, then eventually streaming platforms will show interest in you. And then that will enable you to do more good shows live. So they very much just go hand in hand.

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