There are over 7 billion people on this planet. Every single one of those people come from different backgrounds and upbringings and will experience the world in a different way. Laughter, however, is universal, as Vir Das understands well. The Indian Bollywood actor and comedian debuted a new Netflix comedy special that weaves together two routines; one filmed in Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi, India — and the other performed at Subculture Comedy Club in New York City, U.S.A. The audiences differ more ways than geography, cultural norms of Indians vary vastly from those of Americans, something that Das teases and challenges throughout the show.
The comedian’s bold routine begins with him explaining to each audience that he will be discussing things he doesn’t understand, in the hopes that by the end of his sketch, the audiences can not understand together and therefore come together under the similarity of their confusion. Topics ranged from world politics, discussing both the United States President Donald Trump and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to religion, tackling Islamophobia and the interpretation of religious texts.
Das glides through each bit with ease, confronting taboo topics with his unique perspective. He dances, flirts and argues with audiences from two different sides of the world — and manages to relate universally. Generating laughs while taking a somewhat stance for social justice is no easy task and yet Das gets laughs across the board when clarifying the right way to say Muslim (‘Mooss-lim’ is a religious belief, ‘Muz-lim’ is a fabric”). Even suggesting all religious texts gets updated regularly à la Apple style, remarking, “we need an Islam 6S.” He suggests that everyone who has prejudices about Islam take a good long look at their own faith, noting that all faith backgrounds have their own dark pasts and outdated rules, highlighting Christianity’s stance on premarital sex.
Bounding across the stages, Das told stories of racism in India and the U.S. — and broke them down by intent. He talked about how unprepared he was for his first kiss and the surprising amount of tongue involved. He even went so far as to point out that according to India’s legislation, oral and anal sex are against the law, which developed into an open conversation about homosexuality in the world. But not all topics were as topical and complex, Das opened up about his first engagement, joking honestly about the heartbreak of getting broken up with over Skype, playfully remarking about how the “typing” icon is a double edged sword.
Das successfully challenges cultural differences like Bollywood sex scenes and American cereal aisles — and yet compels audiences to accept and embrace such differences. With so many comedy specials offered from the perspective of white Americans, Das argues that, “Indian comedy is more than head bobble jokes and funny accents,” and consequently delivers. If you’re eager for new perspectives and the opportunity to learn from other cultures in an engaging and fun manner, try Vir Das out for a spin.