Vir Das Delivers a Bumpy But Still Insightful Landing

Comedy Reviews Vir Das
Vir Das Delivers a Bumpy But Still Insightful Landing

All countries are hypocritical; no one is without sin. Where I live, in Ireland, the government has been praised abroad for welcoming Ukrainian refugees, while asylum seekers from other countries—particularly people of color—face dangerous and degrading conditions in direct provision centers. In the United States, people harp on about freedom, but infringe on others’ bodily autonomy. Comedian Vir Das criticized his home country in his fiery “Two Indias” speech, noting the horrific treatment of women and how in India “we claim to support our troops until it comes to their pension plans.” Some people were so incensed by his words that he faced multiple legal cases and feared for his own and his family’s safety.

So, like any good comic, Das made a special about the fallout from “Two Indias,” entitled Landing. Unlike his last Netflix offering For India, this is not as much an ode to his country as it is about finding home in a world that feels unsafe, especially for someone like him who dares to call out oppressive forces.

And Das continues to speak truth to power in his new hour, earning numerous laughs along the way. Just a few minutes in, he gets in a particularly good dig at Queen Elizabeth II, going after the police soon, too. Das has quite the way with words, so that even if he’s sending barbs someone’s way, his criticisms are packaged up so beautifully that you’re simply in awe until they hit their mark. The opening line of the set comes across like spoken word poetry (and I mean that in a good way, I swear).

Das keeps Landing both self-referential and self-deprecating. He sometimes even does that in the same breath; “It is a very privileged story but I will endear myself to you through the course of this story,” he prefaces his final joke. His winking knowingness is overly self-congratulatory at times. Das loves a callback, and they start to really pile up toward the latter half of the show, not always living up to the special’s title by falling flat. In general, though, this isn’t enough to substantially detract from Landing.

What is annoying about the special is when Das treats gender fluidity and trans people as new concepts tied to younger generations, when in reality they’ve been around for millennia. If cis dudes insist on still talking about trans people in their specials (which, why??), they should at least get their facts straight. At another point, Das seems convinced that he’s blowing concepts apart when discussing adding layers to the privilege discussion. However, he entirely misses the point that even if Putin had alopecia (Das’ hypothetical) we could still make fun of him—just not for a medical condition that has nothing to do with him being a vile person. It’s strange to see Das so oblivious when he’s normally so astute.

The special works, though, when Das sticks to the power of a microphone and what drew him to comedy in the first place. He can be a little self-aggrandizing, but it’s also artfully done and, ultimately, earned. He stands on sands from Mumbai’s Juhu Beach, having landed on his own two feet after a shaky year.

Clare Martin is a cemetery enthusiast and Paste’s assistant comedy editor. Go harass her on Twitter @theclaremartin.

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