Review | Vir Das: Loved, O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire

During the London leg of his international tour, Indian comedian, Vir Das, sold out the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire with his stand-up performance of ‘Loved’. It turns out there are a mix of Indians and non-Indians in the audience for which he gives thanks to his Netflix specials ‘Abroad Understanding‘ and ‘Losing It‘.

During the 90-minute set, it’s mostly open fire on a range of targets. Das seeks to balance this with his divergent musings on being Indian for example or how he is guided by the motto of not thinking and just doing.

Overall its success is mixed as measured by the varied vocal responses from the audience. Some things would be met with resounding cheers, claps and hysterical verging on delirious laughter. But when his jokes fell flat, you’d only hear a solitary holler from somewhere in the balcony.

The show starts with topical jokes about Trump’s visit to the UK which shouldn’t raise any eyebrows, and then Das continues to poke fun at a cross section of individuals and groups. Indian Prime Minister Modi is described as a nipple piercing, mothers are told that giving birth should be easy; Vegans, Pakistan’s cricket team and those outraged by Apu’s voice in the Simpsons are also among his victims.

The set had an aimless feel at times as Das hops between each joke or story with fairly loose connections between each. There would be the occasional yet well timed joke about British imperialism and western oppression which the audience lapped up. But then there were uncomfortable comments about Nazis which felt fairly misplaced.  

For a tour titled, ‘Loved’ Das only briefly touches on this subject. He describes his therapy sessions with his wife and the way he’s mastered the art of apologising. Enduring love is also described as being like a MacBook Pro and the connection you feel when you date someone and it doesn’t last is more like an iPod. Not the most poetic analogy, but it makes enough sense.

The more interesting part of the night is when Das becomes introspective and questions the sacrifices he’s made to pursue his career in a field that he never thought he’d be that successful in. For someone who presents himself as confident and self-assured on stage, this is a surprising note to end on.

The experience felt like a pic n mix selection; embrace and savour most of what you can, then patiently wade through until the next enjoyable thing arrives.


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