The comic heavyweight is back on tour and he’s headed to a city near you...quick, run for cover!
by Meher bajwa
Recognisable for his freakishly accurate parody accents and epic punch line: ‘Somebody gonna get a hurt, real bad,’ Russell Peters has arrived—with an arsenal of laugh-out-loud jokes to boot. After countless sold-out shows and TV gigs, the Indian-origin, Canadian comic is all set to break more records on the funnies scale with his Almost Famous World Tour. Most of his routines focus on cultural and racial stereotypes, and just a few subjects are taboo for this Forbes list topper. Basically, Russell isn’t the guy to rip off a Band-Aid gently. If you want to experience it first-hand, he’s making a stop in India (Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai) as part of Only Much Louder’s new festival, Stage42.
So, what’s this new tour about?
…Jokes? Humour? Laughter?
Clever packaging! You’ve set records around the world for the largest sales
and attendance. How did you do it?
I have no idea really. I never expect it and don’t take the fans for granted. I’ve been
You were close to your father. How important has that relationship been for your career?
Very important. He was very funny and appreciated good comedy long before I ever started doing it.
Your memoir Call Me Russell did well. Do you think you’ll write another book soon?
I have some ideas that I’m kicking around,
Does the constant touring and being in a different city every day get to you?
I love being on tour. The hardest part is being away from my daughter. I miss her like crazy when I’m on tour.
What was it like being on the other side of the table, judging Last Comic Standing?
It was a great experience, but it’s really hard to be a working comic, judging other working comics. I know how hard it is for them to be up there.
Forbes ranked you at number 3 in the
list of 10 highest grossing comics in the world in 2013. What are you doing with
all that money?
Drugs, hookers, and orgies!
And how do you draw the line between what’s really funny and what’s ‘too far’?
‘Too far’ are jokes about tragedies or really sad events. That being said, comedians do make jokes about that stuff when we all get together, we just won’t do it on-stage. It’s
You’ve done films, TV, live shows, and books—what’s next?
Who knows? The thing about this business is that you never know what’s next. You just have to be ready for it.
Did you have a slew of weird day jobs before you made it ‘big’?
I did everything from selling socks door-to-door in office buildings, to working in a printing press, to selling shoes. You do what you have to do to survive as long as it still lets you do comedy whenever you can.
Any plans of slowing down to just relax, and maybe enjoy a Mai Tai in Hawaii?
I’ve been to Hawaii a few times and really enjoyed it, but taking vacations doesn’t really appeal to me. I get bored. Plus, I’m on tour all the time so I really just like to hang out at home when I’m not on the road.
How have you evolved from the first
time you did a stand-up show all those years ago?
I’d like to think I’ve gotten better at it.
I was terrible when I first got on-stage 26
years ago. Comics are always evolving and changing. You have to. There’s no finish line
in this business and it’s not a race. You just keep on going.
What’s on the agenda for the next
Touring, touring and more touring. I’ll be
on tour until 2016.
You have 7,16,000+ followers on social media—do you feel a sense of responsibility to them?
I kind of suck at social media. I don’t really feel an obligation, to tell you the truth. It’s not like they’re paying for jokes or for me to perform. I feel a responsibility to the ticket-buying fans.
What’s the most common thing you’ve noticed about your audience in India?
They’re smart and get all the references. I don’t have to dumb anything down or change the act from what I do in North America.
You’re performing on February 14 in Delhi. Being Valentine’s Day and all, will you be going easy on the couples in the audience or taking it up a notch?
Nope, everyone’s part of the show. You never know who’s going to be there or what they’re going to say.