Russell Peters is already a comedy superstar in much of the world. A recent one-off appearance at London s Shaw Theatre sold out in 48 hours and when his first shows in Sydney and Melbourne were announced in May 2006, 10,000 tickets were gone in less than two days with zero advertising. In April 2005, Russell was the first South Asian to headline and sell-out the Apollo Theatre in New York City. Common knowledge decrees that a comedian must have a TV sitcom, a hit movie or a high profile comedy album to succeed, but Russell has built a massive underground following by word of mouth, completely bypassing mainstream media outlets. In June 2007, Russell became the first comedian to sell-out Toronto s Air Canada Centre performing for over 30,000 fans over two nights. In addition to this first-time feat, in February 2008, Russell became one of only a handful of comedians to ever headline and sell-out the world famous Madison Square Garden. For the past few years he s been selling out theatres and arenas across the US and Canada, all without ever appearing on network television in the United States. His US agents, Creative Artists Agency, calls this phenomenon The Legend Of Russell Peters.
Russell has made his reputation by speaking to people that no one else is talking to. Much of his comedy speaks to immigrant communities around the world - Indian, Arab, Caribbean, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese, and other South and Southeast Asian communities that remain invisible to the mainstream media and sometimes to the broader white population. Russell s recent DVD and CD, Outsourced, was taped before a sold out audience at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco, and gives viewers and listeners an excellent overview of Russell s comedic genius. He paces the stage interacting with the audience, tossing off one-liners and engaging in impromptu dialogue with his fans. As much a humorist as a comedian, Russell doesn t really tell jokes. Rather, he uses his wry observations on the subjects of race, class and culture to illuminate our human shortcomings with the sizzling accuracy of a well-aimed laser. I don t put people down, Russell points out. I want to elevate them, but in a funny way. His quick wit and ability to mimic language and accents allows Russell to create characters of all races and cultures and forge an immediate bond with his audiences, regardless of their racial and cultural background. Outsourced has gone eleven times Platinum in his home country of Canada.
Russell has been doing stand up for 18 years and already has an impressive resume. He had a recurring role in the Canadian sitcom Lord Have Mercy and hosted his own BBC chat show Network East Late, where he interviewed Ismail Merchant, of Merchant Ivory productions, UK hit makers Faithless, Gurinder Chadha, director of Bend It Like Beckham and many other South Asian and mainstream artists and personalities. His movie credits include the comedy Quarter Life Crises, My Baby s Daddy and the martial arts flick Tiger Claws III.
Russell has been nominated for four Gemini Awards [the Canadian equivalent of the Emmys]. He has been featured at Montreal s Just For Laughs Comedy Festival, HBO s Aspen Comedy Festival, the Edinburgh (Scotland) Comedy Festival and many others across the globe. His TV appearances include CBC s Comics! and two one-hour Comedy Now! specials on The Comedy Network in Canada. His Comedy Now! performance of February 2004 is one of the network s most popular shows of all time. When fans placed segments of the special on the internet it created a global demand for Russell comedy and his popularity exploded. His Youtube videos have been viewed by over 6 million individual viewers. His website, www.russellpeters.com, gets over 10,000 hits a day and alerts his many fans to his upcoming shows via targeted email blasts. He s performed sold-out tours of China, South Africa, Australia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Jamaica, St. Maartens, Trinidad, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates and in 2007, was be the first North American comic to tour India. During his recent tour of Dubai, his tickets sold at a rate of one ticket every two seconds, eventually crashing the computer systems and causing near riots at the ticketing outlets.
In 2007, Russell completed two USO tours for the troops. During these tours he performed on the USS Eisenhower and in Iraq, Afghanistan, Djibouti and Greenland and was part of a special Thanksgiving Tour for the troops with the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Cartwright.
Russell s comedy is rooted in the reality of growing up brown in white Canadian society. My family and I are Anglo-Indian, Russell explains. Anglo-Indians are a community of Indians from India who mixed with the British when they occupied India. Both of my parents are Anglo-Indian and their parents were Anglo-Indians and so on.
Despite his success in Canada, Russell recently relocated to Hollywood, where he s working on developing a new sitcom project with FOX. Developing a TV pilot is great, but I m never accepting typecast roles. If they offer me a million dollars to do a shuffling, bumbling Indian guy they can keep the million bucks. I like the money, but I d do it without the money and I have done it without the money. The real reward is seeing the look of happiness on people s faces when they hear me talking to their experiences in a way that nobody s ever done before. The FOX project is based on Russell s own life, growing up in a working-class South Asian household where an adult Russell, his older brother, mother and father all live in one house together.
Rob Light, a partner at Creative Artists Agency, the agency that also handles Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, put it this way: Russell has a great future in comedy on TV and in movies. He s getting attention from Hollywood because he s already done it all on his own. He s a naturally funny person with a multicultural outlook that allows him to be entertaining to people of all races and backgrounds. Nobody s ever had an outlook like him before.
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Added by thedcimprov on June 3, 2008