Comedy rock star Russell Peters delivers good, old-fashioned standup comedy

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      At GM Place on Tuesday, June 16. Remaining performance on Wednesday, June 17

      Russell Peters is a freakin’ rock star. To see GM Place filled to the rafters, cheering on the Canadian comedy icon, is a sight to behold. But there are no bells and whistles to his act. No light show. No gimmicks. Just two hours of good, old-fashioned standup comedy.

      It’s easy—and fun—to dump on the í¼bersuccessful, but Peters is a solid performer who appeals to every ethnicity, and just about every culture seemed represented at Tuesday night’s show. Unlike Dane Cook—the last comic to play the Garage, and one who wants so badly to be liked by his fans—Peters appears not to care, which works to his benefit. He doesn’t come across as a needy friend. He can take us or leave us, and we love him for it. He’s as quick to shoot down an overly eager crowd member (“How about I just do what I’m doing and you just fucking listen?”) as he is to insult his fans (“Arab women are fucking hot. Maybe not these ones [in attendance] but the ones over there [in the Middle East].”).

      The crowd is always with him, too, even when he steps way over the line. When he noticed a shaky spotlight, Peters looked up and wondered if it was Michael J. Fox at the controls, eliciting jeers from almost everyone. He took it in stride: “I will accept the boos on that one. I’m a comic; I have no editing system.”

      He is self-assured, calm, cool, and very quick. His act is equal parts stories, opinions, and unparalleled crowd work, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. If an anecdote lulls, he’ll change pace by zeroing in on a person and drilling him or her with questions and comments. Stage-side cameras pick up the subjects of his teasing so we can all enjoy a hearty laugh at someone else’s expense. And when he’s had enough of his surroundings, it’s back to another prepared bit.

      The Brampton, Ontario, native now tours the world to play sold-out houses, and he told stories of his exotic travels, from partying in a Beirut bomb shelter to chatting with the king of Jordan to a discussion he had with a homeless boy in India. That last yarn, while absurd and funny, had a warm undercurrent: when he notices that the child has no shoes, the kid replies, “That’s okay—that guy’s got no feet.” Peters keeps on going until they reach a person with just a head. Part Monty Python, part Baruch Spinoza, Peters uses such bizarre stories to tell us we shouldn’t be so concerned with our petty personal problems, because someone else always has it worse.

      As for the venue, Peters is in his element on such a grand stage. He was always a fine club comic and a first-rate theatre act, but he’s reached the status that suits him best: comedy rock star. The Peter Principle says everyone will rise to his level of incompetence. Peters has risen as high as he can get in standup comedy and is only getting better. Call it the Peters Principle.




      Jun 17, 2009 at 9:04pm

      Plus, of course, he's fucking hot. Damn. I wish I were an Arab.


      Jun 18, 2009 at 12:20pm

      I was sitting to the right of the stage with three buddies and we made sure he smelt what Vancouver has to offer. If you know what I mean. Puff Puff Pass!


      Jun 19, 2009 at 12:21am

      This is a reply to the comment below:
      Hi beth,
      Considering a majority of his jokes are about him and his Indian heritage, it baffles me that you think he's an arab. Let me clarify, Arabs are middle easterns (except for Iran and Isreal). So that makes him simply East Indian.
      Just thought I should clear that up.


      Jun 19, 2009 at 9:04am

      Not to speak for Beth, but the way I read her comment was that she was referring to his joke that "Arab women are fucking hot." So she would then stand a better chance with Peters, whom she describes as "fucking hot", too. It's getting Paris Hilton in here.

      I don't see how her wishing to be Indian would determine his ethnicity at all. He clearly dates women of all races.


      Jun 19, 2009 at 4:16pm

      Guy, that's right. Thanks for your post. And hi, Parsoua: I appreciate your feeling the need to explain because there are too many horrifyingly ignorant people in this world. In my own case, I am far more shallow than stupid. I want to be an Arab to increase the odds that Russell Peters will tear himself away from world leaders, Billy Crystal, and screaming, pot-smoking audiences long enough to throw a come hither look and armfuls of red roses my pathetic white way.


      Feb 12, 2010 at 12:40am

      I dont think he is an arab, he looked all indian to me.


      Feb 12, 2010 at 12:30pm

      Sith, go back and read the responses to the comment. And the context is in the story, where he says, “Arab women are fucking hot." Beth was saying she wished she were Arab so he'd think she was hot, too. That's all.


      Dec 20, 2010 at 2:59am

      Im an Arab, and i usually find his jokes hilarious. I don't get offended, and i liked how he showed that not all of us are retarded terrorists who have no lives in a previous performance. x] I also like the way he portrays other cultures and ethnicities, some can be really racist, but their hilarious. :L