Russell Peters is back to smiling with his audience.
Peters is among the most accomplished comedians of all-time. Credited as the first person to ever have a Netflix stand-up special, the Canadian-born comedian of Indian parents has done just about everything in entertainment.
Despite his immense success, Peters has been performing with an underlying unhappiness. As he prepares to bring the Act Your Age tour to Canada, his first home country tour in four years, Peters has reconnected with his old self.
“Coming home is always exciting for me, but coming home with an act that I’m really, really proud of this time,” Russell told ET Canada. “Like this is one of those ones where I’m like, I mean, I say, I’m proud of it. I’m proud of every act I write, but this one is different in that I didn’t struggle to write it. I didn’t struggle to write it. I didn’t struggle to find the funny in it. It just literally happened.
“And it’s so organic this act and it’s a slight departure from the things I was talking about before. But at the same time, the most common response to this act for people is, ‘He’s back. It’s like old school Russell out there,’ and I’m like, ‘Okay, that’s good to know.’ I guess I’m happy with it. I guess there was a phase where I went through where I was a little unhappy. You could tell when I’m on stage, there was an underlying unhappiness about me, and that’s gone.”
The creative process hasn’t changed, but something just clicked for the comedy veteran of 30-plus-years.
“My process is always the same process. I get on stage and I talk. I just started ranting about getting older and young people,” Peters said. “Then I started investigating it on stage like, ‘Alright, well, I say this about young people, but why do I say this about young people?’ And then I realize, ‘Oh, wait, that’s what people said about my generation,’ and I realize, you know, every generation goes through the exact same thing.
“Every generation thinks the generation below them are a bunch of idiots, but no generation takes the blame for it. And I’m here to let the millennials, the Gen Zs now that as much as we don’t like you, it’s my generation’s fault that we don’t like you. I talk about this in my act: everything we don’t like about this generation is my generation’s fault. Every single thing.”
Looking at the comedy landscape and the next wave of stand-up comedians has motivated Peters to step on the gas.
“There are so many comics out there now, and there are so many guys at the top of their game right now with so many guys coming up better,” Peters said. “There are a lot of young comics that I see that make me go, ‘OK, I got it. I got to put my foot on the gas a little bit.’ Sometimes when you’re an older comic, I’m an older comic now, I’m 33 years in the game, so I’m yeah, I’m one of the older comics.
“Sometimes you take your foot off the gas and you coast, then you realize, ‘Oh-oh, these guys are gaining on me. I going to put my foot back on the gas.’ So there are a lot of cats out there that write really good jokes, really thought provoking material, well-written, well-routed, that makes you go, ‘I see what I’m not doing. Let me get back to focus.'”
Comedians have come under fire online over the last few years for their subject matter. When asked what some people have forgotten about comedy, Peters offered this response:
“Here’s what I always say about comedians: comedians are up there to tell the truth,” he said. “The truth is like poetry and nobody likes poetry.”
Ahead of Asian Heritage Month, Peters reflected on the passion for boxing that he shared with his late father, Eric Peters.
“The Castillo-Corrales fight was an incredible fight,” Peters said. “It happened, I think, a month or two after my father had passed away in 2004. I remember watching it and crying because I was like, ‘This is something my dad would have loved.’ It was such an amazing fight.
“My dad would have called it a ding-dong battle because every time you thought one guy was getting dinged, the other guy was getting done. It sounds terrible.”
Much like how comedy is welcoming newcomers to the scene, combat sports has also seen eyeballs shifting to Internet sensations Jake Paul and Logan Paul. While many purists denounce the Paul brothers, Peters concedes that they are illuminating a serious issue in mixed martial arts.
“I think the benefit that the Paul brothers have brought to the combat sports space is that they illuminated something I’ve been saying for years,” Peters said. “People are saying, ‘UFC taking over MMA. UFC is taking over boxing. Boxing is going to crumble.’ Boxing is never going to crumble because the fighters make way more money.
“The UFC, I love it, but it’s not about the fighters, it’s about the UFC. They’re not promoting the fighters. They’re promoting the UFC. How can the UFC make as much money as the UFC can? Not to bad mouth any other companies, but in the comedy world it’s like that to. Some comedy clubs are promoting their name more than they’re promoting the comedy.”
Review the Act Your Age Canadian tour dates below:
June 22, 2022 – Victoria, BC Save On Foods Memorial Centre
June 23, 2022 – Vancouver, BC Rogers Arena
June 24, 2022 – Prince George, BC CN Centre
June 25, 2022 – Kelowna, BC Prospera Place
June 27, 2022 – Edmonton, AB Rogers Place
June 28, 2022 – Calgary, AB Scotiabank Saddledome
June 29, 2022 – Lethbridge, AB ENMAX Centre
June 30, 2022 – Regina, SK Brandt Centre
July 4, 2022 – Winnipeg, MB Canada Life Centre
July 5, 2022 – Thunder Bay, ON Fort William Gardens
July 6, 2022 – Sault Ste. Marie, ON GFL Memorial Gardens
July 8, 2022 – Sudbury, ON Sudbury Community Arena
July 9, 2022 – London, ON Budweiser Gardens
July 13, 2022 – Moncton, NB Avenir Centre
July 14, 2022 – Halifax, NS Scotiabank Centre
July 15, 2022 – St. John’s, NL Mary Brown’s Centre
July 26, 2022 – Ottawa, ON Canadian Tire Centre
July 27, 2022 – Kingston, ON Leon’s Centre
July 28, 2022 – Toronto, ON Scotiabank Arena