Russell Peters will look at the funny side of the pursuit of fame at Dubai shows

But even for such a popular and successful comedian, there are always new territories to explore. As well as two sold-out shows at Dubai World Trade Centre on Tuesday and Wednesday, Peters’s latest Middle East tour will include first-time visits to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait. But performing in more conservative societies doesn’t mean his […]

But even for such a popular and successful comedian, there are always new territories to explore.

As well as two sold-out shows at Dubai World Trade Centre on Tuesday and Wednesday, Peters’s latest Middle East tour will include first-time visits to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait.

But performing in more conservative societies doesn’t mean his routine will be edited too much, says Peters.

“My show is basically the same as it is in North America,” he says. “I may curse a little less, but I won’t change my act for anyone.”

Peters is no stranger to the UAE, having first performed here in 2007 and then in 2008. When his Notorious World Tour arrived in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in 2012, the tickets sold out in record time, and he returned to the capital the following year.

“My last gig [in the UAE] was in Abu Dhabi. It was a little different for me because we did it outdoors [at du Arena], and that’s always challenging,” he says. “But I remember that I had a great time, like I always do in the UAE.”

This week’s shows are part of his Almost Famous World Tour. Peters explains the title comes from thinking about the parts of the world in which he is not so well known.

“Almost Famous definitely comes from being something of an outsider in the business,” he says. “I’m famous to my fans for my stand-up, but there are still a lot of people who don’t know who I am. I’m cool with that.”

Peters’s first taste of international fame came when his “Somebody Gonna Get a Hurt Real Bad” punchline, in a routine about his upbringing as an Indian in Canada, went viral in 2000.

Since then, the comedian, who is on his fourth arena world tour, has expanded his comedy routines to include impressions and social satire that covers a wide range of cultures and ethnicities.

In 2015, the comedian earned a reported US$19 million, making him tied for fourth on the Forbes list of top-earning comedians, behind US stars Jerry Seinfeld, Kevin Hart and America’s Got Talent-winning ventriloquist Terry Fator.

Yet Hollywood fame remains elusive, a regret that Peters alludes to in the title of the tour.

“There’s a lot of very so-called famous people out there these days with no talent who aren’t known for anything other than being famous,” he says.

This reflective nature of the title of the tour is where the seriousness ends, however. The 45-year-old’s new set is all about where he is in life.

“My new set talks about my daughter, parenting, my girlfriend, being a middle-aged guy – plus, of course, there is some stuff on race and culture.”

The comedian, who has been in the business for nearly 30 years, started to make a name for himself on the comedy circuit in Canada in 1989. His goofy imitations of his immigrant parents didn’t always garner laughs but he persevered, on the advice of the late comedy legend George Carlin. Though Carlin influenced him, Peters says he knew he had to find his niche to achieve success.

“Everyone has to find their own voice and their own way to communicate their point of view to the audience,” he says. “It can only come from within, not from someone else telling you what you should be doing.”

In 2013, the comedian cast an even wider net to attract audiences around the world by teaming up with video streaming service Netflix, which became available in the UAE this month, to offer his 70-minute Notorious show – plus a four-part documentary-series, Russell Peters vs. the World.

Peters says he has a few TV projects in the pipeline this year, along with a new movie, Ripped, with his friend and fellow comedian Faizon Love.

He is also set to appear in Disney’s The Jungle Book film, which is due out in April, the same month in which he will record a new comedy special for broadcast.

While always game to try new things, Peters rules out following in the footsteps of fellow comics who have become chat-show hosts, such as Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert.

“I have no desire to host a daily talk show,” he says. “It’s a lot, and I mean a lot, of work.

“I basically am a lazy guy and love what I do. One of the things I love about [stand-up], is that it never feels like work. The moment doing something feels like work, I’m out of there. It’s a labour of love — but labour nevertheless. It never gets easier to create new material, but it’s what I do.”

Peters says he doesn’t write his jokes. He prefers to workshop them in front of an audience.

“Ideas just come to me and then I work it out onstage,” he says. “I actually don’t write anything down, ever.”

• Russell Peters performs at the Dubai World Trade Centre on Tuesday and Wednesday. Both shows are sold out

aahmed@thenational.ae

Source: art & life

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