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Leaving an Impression

by Webmaster Masala

International comic sensation Russell Peters gets ‘Deported’ on his new world tour.

By Ashima Sethi

As one of the world’s most popular comedians, Russell Peters has built a career on rustling more than just a few feathers. With his profession in stand-up comedy spanning over 30 years, Russell has developed a distinct ability to poke fun at culturally-sensitive issues, which include racial stereotypes and stigmas, remaining side-splitting and socially relevant through the years. His unique and observational approach to humour famously involves making fun of individuals at his shows, leaving audience members laughing and cringing at the same time. However, behind the humour is a pressing social commentary, where every jovial jab is also a point of reflection on why racial issues still exist today. With new and exciting material, the funny man returns for his third show in Bangkok, aptly called The Deported World Tour on March 4th at Muang Thong Thani. Masala provides an insider’s scoop.

When did you realise that stand-up comedy was your calling?

I always liked making people laugh, whether it was in class, on the playground or at the mall. When I started doing it on stage and I heard people, who didn’t know me at all, laughing, I was like “ooh,” this is quite a wonderful feeling. It gave me a sense of power.

What is it about Bangkok that keeps you coming back?

I love Bangkok. It really is one of my favourite stops on any tour. I don’t know what it is, but Bangkok just such a lively city.

Your fans in Thailand are quite diverse, what are your comments about that?

I see diversity all over Asia. The rest of the world thinks that Thailand is just full of Thai people, but when you visit, you realise that there is so many other nationalities living here too.

It must be difficult to perform stand-up comedy in a country where English is not the first language. Do you have any strategies in adjusting your content for each audience?

I have been doing stand-up for such a long time, so it comes with the territory. Once you’ve done something long enough, it becomes second nature and you learn how to adapt and adjust naturally. The goal is for the audience to laugh, and never to upset or make them feel uncomfortable. If they are uncomfortable, it is done in a fun way you know?

Across the globe, more and more comedians are touching upon current issues and playing a significant part in social movements, what are your thoughts on this?

I believe comedians are the last truth-tellers around. You can’t rely on the news or politics, so the only people left are comedians, because we’re the only ones who firmly believe in freedom of speech. Sometimes we get away with it, and sometimes, we don’t. You can try to stop a comic, but usually that just gives us more motivation to keep talking.

So when the world is dark or bleak, what is the role of humour?

Humour is what keeps people sane; being able to laugh at the world is all we have left sometimes. Otherwise we are all just sitting here in a blind panic, worrying about the end of the world.

Why is your current show called The Deported World Tour?

Well I live in America now, and if you look at who the president is, it becomes pretty evident that if anybody is going to get deported, they’re going to look like me.

You’re also starring in a new Netflix show, called The Indian Detective. Is it harder to be a stand-up comedian or a comedy actor?

Acting isn’t rocket science by any means, and you’re not changing the world by it. The acting is easy but the rest is out of my control. So I’ll always choose stand-up comedy over everything.

Have people responded well to the series?

The series has had a great response. It was received really well. Now we’re just hoping we get a second season out of it.

Do you hope to find more material when you visit Thailand this time?

Oh yeah definitely! I always keep my eyes open for new material. I hang out with DJ Ono and DjayBuddah who always take me around. They show me the real Bangkok and not just the touristy part. That’s what I really love about visiting, because then I get to feel like a local with some locals. Well to be fair, with some locals who aren’t even that local.

What would you like to say to your Thai fans?

I can’t wait to see you and khob khun krap.

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