With Losing It Vir Das wants to put to rest misconceptions Americans have about India and the global Indian population. However, he is also canny in his ability to underline a stereotype to fit his own ends. “What could be more Indian than a fake American accent?” he says, affecting a strained drawl at the top of the special. He has developed a third-party perspective on many different cultures, and in Losing It he’s determined to use it.
Returning to the U.S. after previously living here in the early 2000s, Das has come equipped with plenty of compelling ideas on how to save it. And he’s generally right. A healthy section of the special revolves around Das losing his religion after beginning to believe in God, but only being able to observe God outside of an organized religious structure. He’s frustrated by America’s inability to synthesize world religions into a weird hybrid that’s palatable for everyone, the way it has with seemingly all international cuisine. This, he argues, is how America would have the ability to cure us all of our citizenship, if it would only try.
This is the high point for Das’s quest to blend his philosophizing and his stand up. Unfortunately, the ideas at play in Losing It are often more interesting and better articulated than the comedic examples he uses to support them. When Das breaks down language and sloganeering to reveal how it manipulates us, you can’t help but feel like it’s an easy, agreed-upon punch to land.
However, he can rally the audience like no one else. In examining the Bollywood dreams he had as a child, as well as how they’ve evolved into an aspiration to be the first Indian superhero in a mainstream Marvel movie, Das is able to whip up genuine enthusiasm for the idea of a superhero called “Brown Cow,” while still noting that this would only ever be done in order to “make money for nine white people.”
When he dives into how this pep-talk tendency of his can backfire—as in his closing bit, which sees an encouraging note he wrote to a put-upon waitress read with serial killer overtones—Das is truly cooking. You wish you had seen more of that along the way, but you’re still glad he got there.
Graham Techler is a New York-based writer and comedian. You’d be doing him a real solid by following him on Twitter @grahamtechler or on Instagram @obvious_new_yorker. A real solid.