Laugh out loud
Canadian comedian Russell Peters in a chat with Masala.com
He came to Dubai for his 'NOTORIOUS' World Tour; he saw the sights and his comic delight won over Dubaaites. When he took centrestage, with eyes full of mischief, his fans braced themselves for a full-fledged comic assualt, the way only Russell Peters can. This incredibly funny man who stands at 5 feet 10” tall and was apparently called Shaquille O’Neal in China, tickled our funny bone in this interview.
What inspired you to become a comedian?
My cousin suggested it. I was 19 at that time and very smart. My cousin said I should do a comic piece at the the Yuk Yuk’s in Toronto. I did it. I was really bad. Still, I got a few giggles and that was enough to keep me coming back… for the past 23 years.
What are the challenges you faced in the early days of your career?
Well first of all, I was bad at the job. So it was harder. Anyway I think takes at least 10 years before a comic really figures out who he is and finds his voice. I entered right after the big comedy boom of the 80s so I didn’t have any shortcuts. I had to match up to expectations. I remember having worked in clubs across Canada and even at times for just five people in a bar in Northern Ontario who didn’t really care if I was there or not. Sometimes I would have gigs at nightclubs when they’d stop the music and I would do a 15 minutes piece.
Why do you think The NOTORIOUS World Tour has been such a hit?
It was new material. I didn’t repeat any of my jokes from my last DVD special, The Green Card Tour LIVE from the O2 Arena. Anyway, in general I never like repeating old stuff from DVDs. I never do a tour until I have a new act for my fans.
We have seen you trying your hands in acting. How has the experience been? Do you enjoy acting or doing stand-ups?
Acting is the natural progression for a comic, but it’s not an easy transition. They’ll cast you in something because they like your stand-up act, but that doesn’t mean they know what to do with you or how to give you something funny to do. It’s been pretty cool and I’d like to do more acting. But I’m pretty fussy about the projects I choose.
I got cornered into doing the “Indian accent” for the movie ‘New Year's Eve.’ Originally my character wasn't supposed to have any accent. I was just supposed to be a regular guy. But when I was shooting the first question I was asked why I didn’t have an accent. I told them straight up I didn’t do any accents while I was acting. That became a sore point. Anyway later on, the producers and writers rewrote the scene where it was revealed that my character didn’t have an accent and pretended to have one just to get chummy with Sofia Vergara’s character. Still in the end when I watched the movie I realised that the explanation had been omitted and I looked idiotic with a really thick, over-the-top Indian accent.
How has your life changed after becoming a father?
There has been no drastic change. I love being a father. My daughter is great and I really miss her when I am travelling.
What makes Russell Peters laugh?
I am in splits when I see really stupid and silly things like somebody tripping or falling down or when somebody mispronounces a common word.
How do you unwind when you aren’t touring?
I just get some good sleep, go out for a movie or dinner. I even like playing with my turntables and just handing out for a while.
Could you shed some light on your future projects?
I’m developing a couple of movies in the States, plus I’m going to continue the Notorious tour across Asia, Canada, Europe and Australia until 2013.
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