By Siddharth Jha
Comedy is about telling the truth in a funny way, says world-famous stand-up comedian Russell Peters, ahead of his multi-city tour in India, where a group of humorists are currently facing criticism for showcasing an insult comedy show.
Peters, whose Almost Famous World Tour, will be staged in Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai, as part of the Stage42 Festival organised by Only Much Louder, says he’s aware of the “growing comedy scene” in India.
“It’s great that that’s happening. Unfortunately, I’m not really familiar with all the guys that are doing it,” Peters said in an email interaction.
Born in Toronto to Eric and Maureen Peters, the funnyman is of Anglo-Indian descent. His late father lived in Mumbai and later migrated to Canada.
Peters often features personal incidents and stories in his comic acts, and says: “I don’t think there’s anything that I do that would ‘hurt’ someone’s feelings”.
“Comedy is about telling the truth and people can tell if you’re just trying to be mean. They can sense your intent. My intent is just to be funny.
“Everything I talk about is real and based on things that have happened to me or my friends. The audience always knows when you’re lying, so never lie to them,” added the 44-year-old entertainer, who has regaled comedy lovers across the globe.
When he started performing stage shows back in 1989, Peters was just 18 years old and says he started doing stand-up comedy because he had always wanted to it. And he does it well — considering the record-setting attendance he draws with his shows.
But he says he didn’t choose to be a comedian “to set records”.
“I started doing stand-up because I had to. It was a calling. If you’re doing stand-up for fame or to get rich, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. I’ve been doing this for 26 years now,” he said.
For now, he’s upbeat about enthralling the “energetic” Indian audience.
“I love India. I’m not just saying that. It makes me happy just to be there. There’s no other place in the world that has the energy that India has. I live in Malibu but would be very happy living in Bombay (Mumbai),” Peters said.
He feels his Indian fans “are very smart and aware of the world”.
“They have a good understanding of not just India but the rest of the world as well.”
Peters is due to perform in the Delhi-NCR on Valentine’s Day Feb 14 at Expocentre Noida, and then proceed to Hyderabad Feb 17, followed by Chennai Feb 19, Bengaluru Feb 21, and in Mumbai Feb 22 and 23.
When he’s not travelling and performing, the humorist loves to spend time with his Crystianna, his four-year-old daughter with his former wife Monica Diaz, thanks to whom he has seen Oscar-winning Hollywood animation film “Frozen” about “two thousand times”.
Otherwise, he has no time for films — whether Hollywood or Bollywood.
“I don’t have time to watch Hollywood films, let alone Bollywood films…I never grew up watching Bollywood movies; it just wasn’t a thing in our house,” he said.