He’s still “just a guy on a stool” for whom the audience’s laughter will always be more precious than accolades, says Vir Das, the first Indian comic to win an International Emmy Award.
AdvertisementDas won the award for his Netflix stand-up special “Vir Das: Landing” in the best comedy category at a ceremony in New York on Monday night. He tied with the much acclaimed British series “Derry Girls” for the coveted prize.
“The job is to take the beautiful chosen people of the world and humanise them a little bit by making an idiot out of myself… I hope we all just get sillier and continue to be fools,” the actor-comic, who returned home on Wednesday, told PTI in a virtual interview. The future of the Indian comedy scene is “tremendous”, the 41-year-old said.
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AdvertisementAn award, he said, is a gift and recognition laughter. “In my speech, I made sure to thank the Indian people for their laughter. I said it was the soundtrack to my life,” he said. Injecting a note of reality as he celebrates his first International Emmy trophy, he said it will get him “maybe 30 seconds extra applause” when he walks out on the stage. After that, it will only be about the laughs. “I will have to make them (the audience) laugh. At the end of the day, they will be like ‘We have paid for this, so make us laugh’.” “The job is to take the beautiful chosen people of the world and humanise them a little bit by making an idiot out of myself… I hope we all just get sillier and continue to be fools,” he said, adding that the future of the Indian comedy scene is “tremendous”. Das, who has often courted trouble over his quirky, observational performances and social media posts, is already readying for shows in Chandigarh and Bengaluru. He was one of the three Indians to be nominated at the 51st International Emmy Awards along with Shefali Shah for “Delhi Crime” season two (Netflix) and Jim Sarbh for “Rocket Boys” (SonyLIV). Besides, producer Ektaa R Kapoor of Balaji Productions was honoured with the International Emmy Directorate Award. The comic said there was “a bit of suspense” at the awards gala when the winner for best comedy category was going to be announced because two envelopes made an appearance on the stage all of a sudden. “I tied with ‘Derry Girls’, one of the best shows in the world,” he added. That they were surprised to hear their name called out is generally a cliched response but the comedian said he only went to the International Emmy Awards with the intent to root for Shah, who was vying for a win in the best performance by an actress category. She was bested by Karla Souza of “La Caida”, a Mexican show. “I really considered my job to be there to root for Shefali. She is a once-in-a-generation talent… I was just kind of focusing my energy on her. I was genuinely surprised (when I won). “As much as Netflix India is gigantic and has a worldwide footprint, I’m still just a guy on a stool. So, to be in a category with ‘Derry Girls’, which is a massive Netflix show, itself is an achievement. So, when they said (the winner is) ‘Vir Das: Landing’, I was very, very surprised,” he said. Das kind of fumbled his way up to the stage, but he got his thank yous right which was very important. “I said many things. The second I got off the stage, I panicked (wondering) did I thank everyone? I hope I didn’t mess it up. (I said to myself) No, you thanked your wife, your family, Netflix and everybody who worked on it.” “Vir Das: Landing” is Das’ fourth special with Netflix. This was his second nod at the International Emmys; first one, also with the streamer, was for “Vir Das: For India” in 2021. Through “Vir Das: Landing”, the aim was to tell the world what his “idea of home” is, the comic said. He was born in Dehradun and spent the first 14 years of his life in Lagos, Nigeria. He has also lived in Haryana, Delhi-NCR, and the US. Das, who is now based out of Mumbai, said he is fortunate to be a “global Indian comedy voice”. “I get to travel the world. It’s a tremendous privilege. What that comes with is I spend eight months a year missing home sometimes during a world tour. The germ of the show is from there. I miss home and a lot of times if I’m in New York or London, there are 3,000 people in the room, out of which 1,500 are Indians who haven’t been in a room with so many Indians in a really long time.” “You are their catch-up, their update with home. That’s what the central feeling of the show was. I don’t think there could be a better stage for the show to get some love than an international stage,” he said. His win comes almost a month after the sudden demise of popular American actor and comedian Matthew Perry. The late actor is best known for the popular 1990s sitcom “Friends”, in which he played the iconic role of socially awkward but amiable Chandler Bing who uses sarcasm to get by in life. Das, who had shared a heartfelt tribute for Perry on social media after his passing, said the “Friends” star essayed his part like a lovable fool. “The jester’s job, the joker’s job, the fool’s job is to make fun of people to make them seem beautiful. That’s what Matthew Perry did very well in a scene. He made the other person look good by being how silly he could be. Das, also known for films such as “Go Goa Gone”, “Delhi Belly”, and “Love Aaj Kal”, has several acting projects lined up for 2024. “I just wrapped up a show which should be out soon… I co-directed a feature that goes on floor in February that I’ll star in. It will be my co-directorial debut of sorts. I should have an American piece of content out soon too. It’s (2024) an acting year, a heavy acting year,” he said. While the Primetime Emmy Awards recognise shows produced in America, the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences conducts the International Emmys with the aim to honour “the world’s best television”.