Monday, 6 April 2009

Late Night Laughs - Walking on Broken Das starring Vir Das

Went to see Vir Das's Walking on Broken Das by Ashwin Gidwani Productions last night at the St. Andrew's auditorium. A true laugh riot. The guy's routine consisted mostly of observational humour, focussing on gender differences, urban lifestyles and relationships, though he did take occasional digs at famous personalities.

As I walked through the main gates of St Andrew's college yesterday evening, the first thing I saw was the huge line at the audi ticket counter just inside to the left. It seems a lot of people indulge in last minute tension-filled ticket buying, though I can't imagine why. Why don't they just call and have the tickets home delivered, or do what I did and have a local douchebag acquaintance pick them up? Suckers! And the only tickets they got that late would probably be the Rs.500 ones, if they got any at all. I'm 300 bucks up on you, losers!

TP hadn't arrived yet, so I walked to the main stairs leading up to the first floor audi lobby. I noticed for the first time the number of dressed down women around. One of the few beneficial side effects of the Mumbai summer. But still, I haven't seen so many scantily clad women at a show before, and I've been to many shows, including ones in summer, and wasn't used to it. I began wondering why this might be. Not that I was complaining.

It took me a second or two to figure out that the reason for this occurrence and the reason for my surprise at this occurrence could be traced back to the same reason i.e almost all the shows I'd been to till date at the Andrew's audi or the NCPA had all been classical music performances, which aren't typically privy to large collections of slutty looking women. In fact, audiences at these events usually comprise old people, either gray haired or bald, constantly and excessively coughing and wheezing, and
wrapped in multiple shawls in 25 degree temperatures. This would also explain my being conditioned to seeing only fossils at theatres instead of hot women. Not that I'm complaining.

Mystery solved just in time as TP showed up just then, and we got into our usual mode of riddling and getting one up on each other. The show's beginning was announced with the toll of a bell soon after we took our seats, and I suddenly got a craving for dinner, though I know not why.

Vir Das didn't come in first though. Sorabh Pant (good enough to get his own show), followed by Vir's alter egos Ravi Darshan (one liners by a piano playing mystic) and Sara Samadhan (riddles by a granny), all did ten minute sets, with a not very funny but not too bad Power Point presentation guiding the audience in between and keeping them reasonably amused.

Vir then began his hour long observational comedy routine, starting with a few jokes about the irritating side effects of his growing fame, following this up with digs at Slumdog Millionaire, Himesh Reshammiya, pelvic thrusts, people from Bandra, man's best friend, differences between Indian men and women vis a vis dance, why we won't see an Indian James Bond, Salman Khan's boobs, then turning to relationships and life, all the while taking digs at celebrities and members of the audience, and finally ending with a song with his piano playing partner from his band Alien Chutney.

The ads promoted Walking on Broken Das as being edgy, using the phrase 'Tempers will be lost, lines will be crossed', yet it seemed the opposite - inoffensive - in my opinion. Vir kept the cursing to a minimum and didn't even go near religion or politics. A lot of his humour seemed derived from current popular media phenomena, and observations on life and love.

I kept trying to think what it must be like to be in his shoes, to face hundreds of people you can barely see, tuning your mind to pick up any audio cues that will decide your routine's direction, the fear you might feel about forgetting your next joke or where you want to take your set based on your audience's response, the constant level of alertness you have to maintain. It's not just performing, telling a bunch of jokes, it's maintaining a relationship with your audience while trying to second guess them.

I don't think I stopped laughing throughout the one and a half hour I was there. Great workout if you ask me. I was sweating with the effort, which could also be attributed to the organisers being nice enough to keep the audi hot during the act - we wouldn't want the women to cover up now, would we?


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