He's back! Comic Russell Peters in Abu Dhabi for gig tomorrow night
Failed relationships are a touchy subject and are normally no laughing matter. But to candid comedian Russell Peters, it's all fair game.
The stand-up is well known for his hilarious routines and no-limits impromptu rants on a wide range of topics. Drawing on racial and cultural stereotypes, he can leave audiences reeling - and also feeling genuinely uncomfortable - thanks to some close-to-the-bone material on ethnicity, as he pulls no punches. So perhaps it’s no surprise that the comedian is open about personal issues.
But it wasn’t a direct question about his break-up that led to the funnyman talking about the failed relationship. It was a simple question about mood, and how comedians can get primed for the stage, regardless of their day is going. Russell responded: “I’m a pretty easy-going guy, but like everyone I can have a bad day. I’d say that I wasn’t at my best when I was married. I don’t feel like my material was that strong at that time and creatively I was blank. I was distracted and not really happy. “Once I was separated, my mind cleared up and stuff just started to flow again. I’m really happy, because I feel like I’m back on my game and back to being myself again.
“The audience doesn’t care if you’re having a bad day. You’ve just got to do your best. It’s just a man and a mic. There’s nowhere to hide.”
Of course a break-up can be a complicated thing. The 43-year-old and his now ex-wife, Monica Diaz, are the proud parents of daughter Crystianna. And Russell is taking it all in his stride. He says: “It hasn’t changed my outlook - it just changes the way I feel when I’m on the road or getting ready to go out on tour. I’m aware of how much I miss my daughter or how much I’m going to miss her. She also lets me know that she’d rather just have me at home with her. That’s tough. Before, I didn’t have any responsibilities or anyone to miss.”
The UAE is already well aware of Russell’s comedy pedigree. He has regularly sold out shows here in recent years, his routines evidently appealing to the cross section of cultures making their way in this cosmopolitan country. His punchlines and routines translate the world over, with huge sell-out shows in London, Sydney and Mumbai. He’s big news Stateside too. This year’s Forbes rich list of comedians placed him a lofty third - he had illustrious company too, with American funnyman Jerry Seinfeld topping the pile.
A Canadian of Indian descent, Russell started his stand-up career way back in 1989, with shows in Toronto. He’s been making people laugh now for nearly a quarter of a century. And just like his one true comic hero, George Carlin, who helped him out with advice early on in his career, Russell is finding age and experience a genuine advantage. He says: “The travel can get exhausting, but I still love it. As far as being a young man’s game, I don’t know. What do you really know when you’re young? What have you done or seen? It takes years for a comic to find their voice and know who they are.
“My favourite comic is [the late] George Carlin. The first time I met him was in 1992 in Toronto. He was just walking down the street. I actually thought he was some guy who looked like George Carlin and being a smart-ass said, “Hey George!” Turns out it was really him.
“He gave me the best advice that night, which was to get on stage as much as possible. I took that advice.”
Russell Peters performs at du Arena on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi tomorrow. Tickets start at Dhs250 - see thinkflash.ae
By Chris Fraser