Knox College announced today that Vir Das will be the speaker at the 2018 Commencement exercises to be held in June. Since graduating from Knox in 2002, Das has cemented himself as the biggest English-speaking comedian in India, as well as one of the country's top actors, writers, musicians, and festival producers. Thanks to his Netflix comedy special, Vir Das: Abroad Understanding, and a recently announced Hulu comedy series, Das is poised to break into the American entertainment world with his unique brand of humor.
"While I didn't have the pleasure of knowing Vir while he was a student at Knox, I have enjoyed watching the trajectory of his career both in his home country of India and here in the United States," says Knox College President Teresa L. Amott. "You can see in Vir's approach to his comedic work, from stand-up and acting to writing and producing, that he is adept at navigating across cultures and overcoming stereotypes to provide his audiences with new perspectives on complicated issues and events. It is an honor to welcome him back to campus as this year's Commencement speaker."
"We are particularly excited to make this announcement today, during Knox's annual international week," added President Amott. "Knox welcomed the first international student to campus in 1863, and, more than 150 years later, international students make up nearly 20 percent of our student body and come from 51 countries. Announcing an international alumnus as our Commencement speaker is a wonderful addition to the celebration of our vibrant international community."
Das shared a message with the Knox community during Knox's International Fair on February 3.
Featured in The New York Times in 2011 as a one of a new set of emerging comedians in India, Das is known for bringing an American style to topics rooted in contemporary Indian culture. Over the course of his career, he has sold more than a million tickets as a stand-up comedian, touring internationally with Unbelievablish, the largest domestic comedy tour ever by an Indian comedian; The History of India; and Battle of the Sexes. In the last year, Das has traversed the globe, performing stand-up in 35 cities on five continents.
Das has also climbed the ranks of the Bollywood elite in various films, including BadMaash Company; Delhi Belly; Go, Goa, Gone; and Revolver Rani, gaining a reputation as a leading man with impeccable comedic chops. In addition to stand-up and acting, Das leads his own multimedia consulting and production company, Weirdass Comedy.
After completing schooling in both India and Africa, Das attended college in the United States, graduating from Knox College in 2002 with a degree in theatre and economics. He also studied acting at the Stanislavsky School at Harvard University before returning to his home country to pursue his career in comedy.
Das will be the first alumnus to serve as Commencement speaker since John Podesta '71, political columnist and chair of the Center for American Progress, in 1998, and the second international alumnus, following Ismat Kittani '51, Iraqi diplomat and president of the United Nations General Assembly, in 1982. Other notable Commencement speakers at Knox have recently included actress and philanthropist Eva Longoria, U.S. Senator Richard Durbin, journalist William Whitaker, poet Natasha Trethewey, actor Ed Helms, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, President William Clinton, comedian Stephen Colbert, and then-Senator Barack Obama.
Knox College Commencement will be held on Sunday, June 3, at 10:00 a.m. on the South Lawn of Old Main on the Knox College campus. It is free and open to the public. Can't make it back for the ceremony? Das is currently on tour. View his tour schedule.