'I get paid for misbehaving on stage'

Straight face

'I get paid for misbehaving on stage'

Comedy is a serious business.” Doesn’t that sound oxymoronic? Yes, but stand-up comedian Vir Das sees his business thus.

 He says his comedy is driven by anger. It is not for weak-hearted. He is also firm that it is never obscene. “Never make fun of somebody who doesn’t deserve to be made fun of. One must be able to laugh like a child sans any hang ups at my shows,’’ Vir asserts.
 That Vir is an unlikely comedian is in his character. He always dared to venture into things where others feared to tread. Vir sought to study investment banking. But at the university, his professors discovered that he’d make a better theatreperson than a banker. He signed in for theatre and soon found himself doing method acting, before finding his ground in stand-up comedy.

Comedy for Vir is an observation science. He closely observes people and their mannerisms and this is what eventually comes out on stage. “It’s spontaneous. It’s like you’ve got the basic ingredients and you start mixing garam masala, jeera powder and spice it up with whatever add-ons that are at your hand. Comedy is akin to that,” he told Metrolife.

Once on stage, Vir is greedy for instant gratification. “I get paid for misbehaving on stage and that’s exactly what I do. You have to be able to gauge the mood of the audience. Even laughter from the audience says a great deal. They could be genuine laughter, innocent or just plain boredom. A comedian should be able to change at the blink of an eyelid just like that,” he explains.

Vir feels the best comedy emerges from messy situations. But he knows staging comedy is akin to courting death. “You either prosper or you perish as a comedian. You have to be ready to get booed off the stage,” he says. He describes his profession as stand-up comedian as ‘suicidal’. “I go up in front of large audiences without a script, just relying on my instinct and improvising. It works sometimes and sometimes it doesn’t,” he says.

 After much persuasion Vir has signed up for a few Bollywood films. He says that as a comedian you don’t really have to sign up for one film after another. “When I sign up for films it must be purely commercial in content and form, comedy shows are different,” he says.

In Aamir Khan’s Delhi Belly, he plays one of the three heroes and he has also signed up for an untitled Yash Raj film. “I am a comedian off screen, why should I be one on screen as well. I want to explore another side of me,” he observes.

Vir adores Bill Cosby for his cut and dry kind of comedy and in India he thinks Johnny Lever makes for a great comedian off the screen. He feels comedy in Bollywood movies is not up to the mark.

As an actor, Vir says he makes no effort to tone up his body. “I hate the gym but I have an instructor who makes sure I run a few miles to stay fit.  Besides, I think laughter is the best way to a healthy and happy living,” he says.

Vir will soon compile all his shows into a book form. He is all set to tour 16 countries with his show, Walking On Broken Das, where he will portray three totally different characters in three different situations. 

Vir Das loses no chance to perform in the City. He loves the audience here and rates them as “intelligent” and “intoxicating”.

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