Russell Peters Talks To Us About His Deported Tour, Aziz Ansari, AIB Roast And More
After a long day of work, I headed out to St. Regis hotel at around 9 pm to interview Peters. I was taken up to his suite where I was seated in a crowded room full of journalists patiently waiting for their interaction with the comedian. After waiting for almost four hours, I was tired. But Peters had been doing this for the past 12 hours, and still greeted everyone with the same amount of enthusiasm. If he really liked you, he’d give you a hug before leaving and make a fart noise while telling you to “grow up.”
I was his last interview of the day. I made my way over to him and shook his hand. He tried to be as warm as he could, but the relief that a long day of interviews was finally coming to an end was pretty evident in his sleep-deprived red eyes. I complimented him on the Air Jordan 1’s he was rocking and he politely complimented the dirty pair of Vans I was wearing. And before wasting any more time, I started putting forth my questions.
With the rise of trolling and social media in general, do you think it was easier to do a comedy show 5-6 years back than it is today?
I think it was probably harder with trolls at shows five years ago because we didn’t understand that they were trolls. It was a new concept and now we know exactly who they are. They’re just someone useless who sit behind screens being dicks to people and they’re getting the weak ones.
I know you love roast battles. AIB (All India Bakchod) tried to do the same thing back in 2015 and it failed miserably. Why do you think it failed so badly here in India?
I think what the problem was that people were influenced. The people that got offended were influenced by those people who told them they have to be offended. It’s funny because the people who were involved in the roast, on whom the jokes were being made didn’t get offended in any way.
Nowadays, a lot of people see having your own Netflix or Amazon special as the epitome of comedic success. Do you think that’s true?
No, I don’t think so. When I’m at comedy clubs now and they say the intros for the people, they always say this guy has a Netflix special and the next guy has a Netflix special. Well, it’s not that special if we all had one, is it?
Today shows like BoJack Horseman and even something like Rick and Morty have gained tremendous success. Of course, there have always been The Simpsons and Family Guy but now there’s a burst of successful animated adult comedy. Where is the line for adult-themed comedy and jokes these days?
The thing is, with animation, you can put across a lot of political messages that you probably couldn’t do normally. That’s just what they’re doing.
You perform all over the world and you poke a lot of fun at Indians, their mannerisms, their habits, etc. Do you in any way feel nervous performing the same set in front of an all Indian audience like you’re about to?
Not at all. I think they understand better than anyone else and they know where my heart is at. If I was doing it in an insulting way, I would never keep coming back here to perform it.
What’s something new people can expect with the Deported tour?
It’s a slightly different Russell. It’s still the silly guy, but it’s much more about me and things that are going on with me. It is one of my most personal sets yet. What I’m saying about myself in my act and about things I’m going through will hopefully help the audience relate to it. I’m making it about me but actually, it’s about all of us.
The #MeToo movement and comedy have unfortunately had a connection in the past. Do you think those who have been named and shamed a few months back, someone like Aziz Ansari, should be given another chance?
I think so. He and I may not be best friends, but I was riding with him on that when it happened because I really didn’t think he did anything wrong. They just tried to throw him under the bus for the sake of it because it was at the fever pitch of it all.
Because stand up is such a personal thing, we don’t differentiate the person and the comedian. Again, let’s consider Aziz Ansari. Should the comedian be punished for the mistakes he makes once he’s off stage? Is it possible to have a different comedic attitude or ideology and believe in different things as a person?
I know Aziz on a couple of different levels and who he is on stage is definitely not who he is off stage. He is quiet, introverted and doesn’t talk to too many people. Now, I can’t speak about how someone else should be, but I belong to the comedic group who go by the ‘I am who I am’ philosophy. What you see off stage, is just a toned down version of me on stage.
(Header Credit – Instagram, @russellpeters)