‘We spot the humour in everything, even in the darkest of things,’ says stand-up comedian Russell Peters
His impersonations are what gave him global success. From mimicking a Nigerian as well as a Chinese with equal finesse to his spot-on Indian accent, he is loved by many across the globe. For many of us, Russell Peters was among the first few comedians who opened the gates to international comedy. Thanks to digital streaming platforms, Russell soon became the most sought after comedian not just in India, but also in the international fraternity. After doing stand-up and talking about stereotypes, race and other sensitive issues, the 48-year-old Canadian artiste is coming to India with his latest act, Deported.
Russell began his stand-up career in 1989 and is into his 30th year as a comedian. Ask him about his journey, and he says, “I still love it as much as I did the first time when I got a laugh back in 1989. However, I’d like to think that I’m maybe a bit better today than I was back then.” Little did the then 18-year-old “smart a**” Russell know that his life would change forever when he first got on stage. But things never came easy for Russell. It was only after 15 years since his debut that Russell got his big break with Canadian comedy series titled Comedy Now! Speaking about the turning point in his career, Russell says, “Comedy Now! in 2004 changed everything for me. But I was lucky as YouTube started within a year in 2005. My acts were cut-up and uploaded on the web after that.”
Speak of impersonations in comedy and Russell is the first name that comes to our mind. The comedian, who has managed to crack the code of imitation and weave it into his act, says that he was never sceptical about doing any accent. He adds, “I won’t do an accent without really knowing the culture and nuance of the accent that I’m doing. Interestingly, I get more people complaining when I don’t do their particular accent or talk about their cultural group. They say, ‘how come you didn’t do any Macedonian jokes?’”
Russell, over the years, has done a number of shows around the world and inarguably his observational comedy is just as hilarious as his accents. Justifying how comedians look at things differently, he says, “Comedians don’t see the world the same way a normal person does (or as we call you guys, ‘civilians’). We spot the humour in everything, even in the darkest of things — we’ll text and email each other those jokes, but we could never say some of those things in public.”
His latest act, Deported, marks his 30 years in the stand-up industry. Ask him what can be expected this time, and he says, “This is a more personal, self-deprecating set. I talk more about who I am and where I’m at in my life right now. But there’s still some of my usual silliness to weave it together. Besides, I’m recording this in Mumbai on June 2 and 3, and I’m really excited to be filming it in India.”
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