BENGALURU: From interning for Bill Maher to being a contributor to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Mumbai born Warren Viegas has definitely had a dream start to his career in comedy.
“My family lives in Goa. I moved to the US six years ago to complete my undergraduate education. I used to do a stand up acts on the campus, that’s how I started,” says the 24-year-old.
Warren did a generic business degree at the Hillsdale College and took up several courses in political science. “My stand up act was pretty political,” he recalls. So what was his first job? “Well that involved getting a lot of people coffee at Real Time With Bill Maher show. I joined there as an intern. Bill is pretty straight up off camera as well. He does not really hide how he feels,” says Warren.
He also tells us about how he “sort of got to contribute” as an editor at the Last Week Tonight With John Oliver show for close to an year.
“John is just as genuine as he’s on camera, most gracious, witty and he will pretend to know my name if we were in the same room,” laughs Warren.
Warren would edit piece and pitch in ideas for the show that covers global topics, from the chicken farming to the porn ban.
“For something like a Valentine’s day piece, the research would start around two months early. However there’s no specificity with which topic to pick. John’s willing to touch anything that is interesting and where he could do a funny spin,” inform Warren.
So, did Oliver or the show face any lawsuits, especially after ruffling few feathers with an episode on paid gospel churches in US.
“That’s one of the big differences between our motherland, which I love and the US. There was definitely a huge backlash but not legal to the levels of how it is in India. In the Bill Maher show, he compared Trump to an orangutan. Imagine doing that here. You’ll be facing an FIR,” he says.
He adds that there was some “legal stuff” that the show faced with the fake evangelist episode, but the outrage is far less than how it is India.
The show was conceptualised to concentrative on alternative topics, but as the election drew closer Oliver seemed to join the mainstream bandwagon in bashing Donald Trump and rightly so, especially with the racist rants of the now President-elect. However, very less attention was paid by John to exploring the Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s mail leak. Was that a concious decision? “Most news sources were biased to Hillary, so there have been times when there’s joke on Clinton that did not make it to the script. I don’t know if that’s because people see her as lesser of two evils,” he says.
So, was it a conscious decision to drop jokes on Clinton? “The voice of the show is the host and the executive producer, so you try to write stuff that you think he’ll find funny and will pick up, because that’s how you got paid. If you write for him, it is most certainly true that you agree with him,” explains Warren.
So, does he agree with content that goes on the show? “Most of the times, but I agree with you that there was plenty of fodder to make jokes on Clinton. Comedians who do stage time go- I don’t understand how he won, while those on the road are like - I don’t know how she was even close,” he laughs.Warren however says, that while the Daily Show did a lot of pieces on Trump, Oliver restricted it to a few. “In the beginning, John didn’t even want to cover it, back in 2015,” he concludes.
So, what challenges did the team faced with the Edward Snowden interview? “I wish I could tell you, but I don’t know about it. Snowden loves our show, which is why he chose us over a BBC,” he says.
Warren was in the city for The Black Dog Bengaluru Comedy Festival 2016 conceptualised and organised by Sumendra Singh from Comedy Wagon.