Comedian Russell Peters returns with more immigration jokes in Deported

Russell Peters
Russell PetersPHOTO: AEG PRESENTS

Comedian Russell Peters is using personal material in his latest show

Canadian comedian Russell Peters may have the bragging rights of being the first comedian to get a Netflix stand-up special with 2013's Notorious.

But while Netflix comedy specials are a dime a dozen these days, being the first global superstar of stand-up has its shortcomings.

"I have the distinction of being the first one, but then everybody else has the distinction of being paid more than I do," he tells The Straits Times in a telephone interview from his home in Los Angeles.

"I'd rather be the highest paid than the first because these days they pay them a lot of money - just not to me," he quips.

The 47-year-old, who is engaged and has a seven-year-old daughter from his first marriage, is returning to Singapore on Feb 24 for the Deported World Tour at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

The tour's name fits right in with the running theme of immigration that his previous shows and specials have had, including The Green Card Tour and Russell Peters: Red, White And Brown.

  • BOOK IT / RUSSELL PETERS - DEPORTED WORLD TOUR 2018 SINGAPORE

  • WHERE: Singapore Indoor Stadium, 2 Stadium Walk

    WHEN: Feb 24, 8pm

    ADMISSION: Only for those aged 16 and above. Tickets at $108 to $228; go to www.sportshubtix.sg and SingPost outlets or call booking hotline 3158-7888

"Now that Trump is the President, there's a solid chance I could get deported," he jokes without missing a beat.

This will be his fifth time back here for a full-fledged stand-up show since the Notorious World Tour in 2012, where he played two sold-out nights at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

But he reveals that he is also fond of Singapore because he started coming here to perform way before hitting the big time.

"I've been going to Singapore since the late 1990s, where I performed in the basement of the Marriott (Tang Plaza), at the bar where they used to do the comedy nights in the basement," he recalls.

Now that Trump is the President, there's a solid chance I could get deported.

RUSSELL PETERS, joking. He has used the theme of immigration in his shows

"There are some people who remember me from back then and I still see them at shows. It's nice to go back and see the people who knew me when I had nothing."

His brand of observational comedy typically revolves around his Anglo-Indian upbringing and poking fun at racial and cultural stereotypes, all through storytelling and ribbing the audience, especially the ones sitting in the first few rows at his shows. Three decades of a comedy career later, he says that is still his "forte".

While he is a firm believer in the mantra of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", he says his latest show, however, will feature new material and is "more personal and introspective".

"It's all about my real life, it's all true stories and it's been getting an amazing response in America, but I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing," he says.

He is also aware of his role in setting the precedent for other comedians of Indian descent to talk about their experiences as a minority and rise up the ranks quickly.

The likes of American comedian-actor Aziz Ansari and The Daily Show senior correspondent Hasan Minhaj have since gotten their own Netflix comedy specials.

"You created the path because there was no path before that, but once you create it, people can get on it and find shortcuts that you didn't know existed because you were too busy making the road straight ahead," he says.

That said, he is already priming for his next stand-up special.

"Hopefully, there are going to be competitors (to Netflix) out there by the time my next special is ready," he says.

You might even catch Peters around Singapore. The comedian has an almost week-long break here before continuing on the Asian leg of his tour, which includes stops in Malaysia, Japan and Hong Kong, among other places.

What will he get up to? Even he does not know yet.

He says: "I'm more of a day-by-day guy; I don't plan very well."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 12, 2018, with the headline 'Getting laughs from life'. Print Edition | Subscribe