Canadian comedian Russell Peters
Credits: JOEL BOYCE/QMI AGENCY
Megastar comedian Russell Peters is making an Ottawa stop on his Notorious World Tour on Friday when he performs at Scotiabank Place. Via his cellphone from Vegas, the Indo-Canadian comedian talks about breaking attendance records, parenthood, race and loving the game in this edited interview.
Q. How does it feel to be breaking attendance records and selling out arenas like a rock star?
A. It's emotionally disturbing. I don't like it at all. I just wish everything would slow down and go back to normal (laughs). I love it.
Q. Do you feel pressure to maintain or exceed your level of success?
A. There is the pressure to maintain it, but you can't maintain that kind of altitude for that long because it's just not possible, so you've got to enjoy it while it's there and then understand that eventually you're going to go back to where you started from.
Q. This tour is all new material. What topics do you explore?
A. My travels - I was in the Middle East and Thailand - and having a daughter and getting a divorce and all that kind of stuff.
Q. How do you decide what to share on stage and what you'll keep private?
A. I'm pretty open book so I don't really care. (gets distracted) Sorry, I'm driving down Las Vegas Blvd. and there's a billboard with these horrible DJs and they're all jumping up with their hands in the air and I'm like, how are you DJ'ing if your hands are in the air?
Q. Have your strong views on how kids should behave changed since you became a father?
A. It's easy to say that you're going to be a hardass with your kids, but I have a little girl and when she's misbehaving I'll be like "Hey, we don't do that." She'll look at me and say "Dada" and then I'm like "OK, you can do whatever you want." It's funny how easily cute can change your mind.
Q. As she gets older will funny be able to change your mind too?
A. If it's clever I'll admire it. If it's cheeky I won't. I'll be the cheeky one in this family.
Q. You're known for being able to do so many accents and talk about funny aspects of many cultures, but has anyone ever told you your act offended them?
A. I think if somebody's offended by something I've said then they're obviously missing the point of what I'm saying because when I do impressions of anybody it's not to mock them, it's more to celebrate them. People who miss the point are just sensitive people who you can't help.
Q. Are white people more sensitive about race than people of colour?
A. Uh, yeah. I guess there's some sort of guilt thing attached to it with white people but I can always tell the white people who are genuinely not racist-ly inclined. When I tell them an off-colour joke about somebody they don't get uncomfortable with it. People who have those hidden issues get very uncomfortable.
Q. Is part of it that self-identified liberals think being a good person means being in a constant state of outrage on someone else's behalf?
A. Yeah, I think that's somehow their justification. It's the same way with people who go to church every Sunday and they're the first ones to judge you. I'm like, wait a minute, didn't you just go to church and learn about not judging people? There's a certain irony there.
Q. Anything you'd like to add?
A. I'm just excited to be back on tour. Whether I'm successful or it all turns to sh-- tomorrow and I end up having to play bars in Peterborough on a Thursday night, I'd still be doing it regardless. Ego's not the issue with me - it's the love of the game.