In India, comedian and Bollywood actor Vir Das can sell out stadiums with his stand up. That's not quite the case in America...at least, not yet. Das is the first Indian-born comedian to star in a Netflix comedy special, Vir Das: Abroad Understanding. He tells us about growing up watching stand up on TV in Africa, going to college in America, making the leap from Bollywood to Hollywood, and why he refuses to use his accent to get an easy laugh.
FROM THIS EPISODE
Matt Belloni, editorial director of the Hollywood Reporter, joins Kim Masters to discuss top entertainment news stories of the week.
- Sony Pictures Entertainment officially names Tony Vinciquerra its new CEO. While the film side of the company continues to struggle, the TV side has been doing well, except that Sony doesn’t have a broadcaster. As networks continue to want to buy television from their own studios, some people are wondering if Sony is preparing itself for a sale, perhaps to somewhere like CBS.
- Now that Sinclair has purchased Tribune Media and said it is not going to focus on expensive original scripted shows, what happens to the WGN America critical darling Underground?
- Has "Peak TV" officially peaked?
We've talked about it on the show before -- Netflix seems intent on buying up the comedy world. This year alone there have been for specials from comedians including Amy Schumer, Dave Chappelle, Louis CK and Vir Das.
You might not recognize that last name unless you happen to be familiar with the English-language comedy scene in India. In his home country, Das has sold out stadiums and appeared in Bollywood films. He has more than five million Twitter followers.
Now he wants to establish himself in the US. His Netflix special, Vir Das: Abroad Understanding, cuts back and forth between two venues -- a stadium in New Delhi and an underground club in New York -- which vividly illustrates his popularity in India compared with his relative obscurity in America.
Das truly brings a global perspective to his comedy. He was born in India, but his family moved to Nigeria when Das was just a year old. He grew up going back and forth from Africa to boarding school in India. When it came time to look at universities, Das made another geographic leap. He tells us about discovering acting through a class at an American college, deciding to go back to India to pursue comedy, breaking into Bollywood through an unconventional ploy, and why he's determined not to fall back on making easy jokes about his accent.
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