For the first time ever, an Indian comedian has been conferred with a doctorate, in recognition of his rib-tickling contribution to the world of performing arts.
The person who has been felicitated is none other than Vir Das, who has cemented himself as the most prominent English-speaking comedian in India, besides being one amongst the country’s top actors, writers, musicians, and festival producers.
Currently, the only Indian artist to have a comedy special, Abroad Understanding, on Netflix, Vir’s alma mater, Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, has come forward to honour him, making it a rare achievement for an actor-comedian.
The ceremony is scheduled to take place in June 2018, and Vir will be the first alumnus since 1971 to serve as the commencement speaker for the annual commencement ceremony of the college.
In the past, a long list of celebrated personalities like actress and philanthropist Eva Longoria, US Senator Richard Durbin, journalist William Whitaker, poet Natasha Trethewey, and Presidents William Clinton, and Barack Obama have given the commencement address.
“Knox was this wonderful place that catered to kids like me who couldn’t otherwise afford to study in the US. They had an amazing faculty that made me love performing. They took an economics student and turned him into an actor and comedian. I’m not sure I’m even remotely deserving of this honour. They’ve had speakers like Obama and Clinton and I’m not sure what comparative wisdom I’m going to have to offer. But I’m going to work hard to let the students know that there is a world of choices available to them if they just step out of their box. That’s what Knox did for me. It’s a cool full circle moment in life and an honorary doctorate is fun. The wife is already calling me ‘Honorary Dr Das’,” an amused Vir told The Indian Express.
Vir is slowly breaking into the American entertainment sphere with his exceptional brand of humour, and also has a comedy series which is currently under development, with the international streaming service Hulu.