Review: Vir Das, “Outside In — The Lockdown Special” on Netflix

A mash-up of Zoom shows? That’s the special? As I wrote in Decider:

Das’s premise doesn’t seem on the face like it’ll offer much. He asked Zoom viewers each night what’s the first thing they’d do when the world re-opens, and then riffed off of their answers.

And then you realize that fans are seeking Das out from not just across India, but around the world, and their wishes for normalcy are oh-so-normal. One guy wanted a haircut. A young woman yearned to dine out at her favorite Asian restaurant. A woman in London just looked forward to visiting her pub. But then there’s the college student in India who was hoping to study in the United States this year. Or the couple from Canada, stuck in India after holding an engagement party with relatives in March. There was a flamenco dancer in Madrid, her job sidelined. A couple from England with a newborn, describing how the nurse didn’t want to touch them during childbirth out of fear. An American travel agent living and working in Delhi, who arranged for 4,000 other Americans to fly back home before travel bans took hold.

It’s a bit weird watching this all now in December, knowing that many parts of the world did reopen over the summer, only to shut back down again this winter. But the closing credits do update us on some of his fans.

And it’s the audience who reminds us that pandemics are global phenomena, showing how we all experienced the same extreme emotions, faced the same hardships, and even coped with the loss of friends or loved ones. Whether you lived in Houston or Dubai, Paris or Melbourne, Lagos or London.

In one of Das’s confessional asides, he mentioned needing to take a break from performing because he was going through stuff, and he felt his performances should provide a release for audiences to escape any and all such stuff. And yet, we do learn a little bit (perhaps not enough?) about one incident, in which an elderly neighbor of Das sneezed/coughed in his face during an argument about COVID. “He pulled down his mask and he was like, achoo!” Das joked later.

This year has made too many people go bonkers.

Maybe we can’t quite joke about it freely until we’re out of the woods of the pandemic. Until then, as Das closes his hour, we’re better left focusing on the doctors and paramedics, from Mumbai to Charlottesville and everywhere in between, who are focused on getting us there.

Read my full review on Decider

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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