Comedian Vir Das released Tribalism & Cancel Culture vs Comedy, the fifth episode of his 10-part topical standup series #TenOnTen on 10 August. Das pitched the episode as a conversation about the need for more compassion and empathy in our online discourse. But some Twitter and Instagram users believe that Das himself failed to show enough empathy for trans people with his comments about gender identity and sexuality during the 20-minute standup set.
Over the past three days a number of Twitter users—many from the LGBTQ+ community—have accused Das of “normalising transphobia” and “punching down” with his jokes about pronouns as well as a throwaway punchline that reduces the complex process of gender transition to “discard[ing] an organ”.
Das touches upon a gamut of sensitive topics in the video including pronouns, trans people, religion and cancel culture. However it is the aforementioned gender transition punchline, as well as a joke about pronouns, that has gotten many people worked up.
Earlier this morning, Das responded to the criticism he has been facing with an Instagram post. “Lots of people seem to be discussing a single screen shot of half a sentence removed and posted out of context from my new video. Hope it’s alright if I too share some screenshots from it. These are all points actually said, and errors acknowledged in the SAME video, where I make fun of myself and ALL sides. It ends with an appeal for what we have in common: we are all imperfect, fallible, nuanced, kind, want to laugh, and have a better conversation with compassion. It’s what I tried to make this video about. Seems like a simpler solution than arguing with the internet. There’s actually a bit about selective editing comedy and posting it…in the same video. This series is comedy about hard things,” he said in the caption.