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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Comic Vir Das has a global approach

If Vir Das isn’t home, he’s at 36,000 feet on a flight or in line at an airport.

“I spent over 500 hours this year in the air and more than 10,000 hours in immigration lines at the airport,” Das cracked while calling from Toronto. “At my size, five-eight, any seat is a good seat. My home away from home is the aisle or window seat.”

Das, 43, is breaking through in America. The Indian comic’s Netflix special “Wanted,” will debut in December. Das also had a recurring role in the ABC sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat.”

However, unlike many foreign comics who strike paydirt in the U.S., Das elects to remain in his country. Das probably leads the comedy league in frequent flyer miles because he travels back and forth from Mumbai often.

“India is where my home is,” Das said. “But I do love America, but the world is bigger to me than America. There is room for an Indian voice on the global market. What I do is tell an authentic story like Dave Chappelle does. I love that Dave Chappelle takes me to Ohio with his material. I take people to Mumbai.”

Das, who will perform Saturday at the Bing Crosby Theater, isn’t part of the club. “I always have a foot on the outside,” Das said. “I relish that role. That’s my comedic perspective. My show is about what happens when you send a moron, that’s me, around the world. It leads to a conversation about the world and what is relatable. What I talk about isn’t foreign. America doesn’t know this but the world catches up with the U.S. every year. I knew it for many years since I went to college in Illinois. Many countries around the world have similar lifestyles. I come from a very diverse country that has a huge population.”

After Das delivered his “Two Indias” show at the Kennedy Center in New York last year, he made headlines. Das earned critical praise but the Indian government tried to silence him and send him to prison.

“That was very much true,” Das confirmed. “For a hot minute, it was concerning. It becomes a conversation, a jumping off point for this show.”

As much as Das is loyal to his homeland, the inspired stand-up will be spending more time in America since he signed a development deal with Andy Samberg’s production company, Party Over Here.

“The show is about an Indian family that moves to Memphis,” Das said. “It’s a modern immigration tale. We’ve seen it a number of times. You have an immigrant move here and they look for the American dream and they have a suitcase. This is a story about people with 15 suitcases.”

What’s the difference between Das’ forthcoming show and “Fresh Off the Boat?” “This is about an Indian family.” Das said. “You’ll see the difference. With the show or the show you’ll see when I come to town, you’ll notice that all people expect of you is to tell a story authentically. The pressure to fit in doesn’t exist anymore. It’s all about an audience asking to be taken to some new place. If you do that, they’re all yours.”

Das is connecting with fans just like his comedy heroes that he listened to while coming of age in Mumbai.

“I was impacted by a number of comics while I was growing up,” Das said. “I loved George Carlin for his political views and insightful mind, Richard Pryor for his vulnerability and Eddie Izzard because it felt like he made it all up on the spot. Those are three people that are the reason I’m doing this.”