Vir Das needs no introduction where he comes from. The billion-strong Indian audience has watched him perform for over a decade. He is one of the earliest stand-up comics from the subcontinent, and was one of the first to be picked up by Netflix for his own show. Five minutes into the set and the reason for his undying success is clear.
Back at the Fringe after three years, Das uses his charm, wit, and mastery with words to woo the audience. A quick show of hands confirms the obvious – the audience is largely Indian – but there’s a decent smattering of Westerners too. Das assures them that no background will go unexplained as he launches into Loved. The crux of the act is his exploration of the different kinds of love in his life. From the mundane to the quixotic, the audience is brought along on a hilarious journey of what it means to love, even in a situation that involves being totally smitten whilst also covered in dog piss.
Some parts, like the repetitive jokes about ‘what women want’, feel lazy. He is disarmingly good-looking and weaves that into his set. But he doesn’t have the same success with other parts – like the section about the press interviews, which seems oddly disconnected from his theme. He is also unduly distracted by latecomers, and allows himself to go on a tangent at every instance (although, that is as much the nature of the crowd on the day as anything else).
In festivals, where international artists frequently rely on the ‘quirks’ of British society to make the locals laugh, it is refreshing to be indulged in Das’ humour. He brings his brand from India, but serves it up with spice to a very receptive global audience. And with that, an hour has passed, laughing about love – in a show that feels like Das’s most intimate set yet.