Two spotlights dance across the stage as music fills the hall signaling the start of the show. The crowd erupts into applause as the announcer calls out the featured comic of the night. As the music fades, out from stage right comes a Desi guy in faded jeans, a simple button down shirt, and classic white kicks. With a mischievous school boy smile he greets the audience and starts his routine:
“It’s a big deal in the Indian community if you’re not married. I’m not married and I’m not into the marriage thing. I love women too much to get married. Because if you love women and you get married, then you just love woman. I don’t know if I’m ready to do that yet and I’m scared of getting that disease too, you know that disease that you get when you get married? Onegina? I don’t want to get stuck with Onegina for the rest of my life!â€œ
By this time the crowd is in tears, they just received their first dose of Russell Peters. Now who is Russell Peters? He is only the hottest new name in international comedy. He has been everywhere from the United States to Africa and has been captivating audience with his smart, witty, and fresh material.Â Recently, Sapna magazine had the opportunity to sit down with Russ and see what this rising phenomenon is really about.
SAPNA: It seems your talent is finally being recognized, but I know you have been the biz for quiet some time, when did you initially get started in the industry and when were you discovered?
RUSS: Well I got started in 1989, I started doing amateur nights and building up my experience. But the first time I really got recognition was in September of 1994, I had a newspaper article written about me. From there things started taking off. I performed at the comedy festival and event got a part in a short independent film.
SAPNA: An obstacle facing many South Asians in entertainment is that they are asked to fill Indian stereotypes when auditioning and trying to get into the biz. Have you ever experienced this and what do you think about the Issue?
RUSS: I was the first Indian guy to do stand up, and to me it was alright because what I was doing was new. But as far as acting, when I comes to parts where I had to have an accent and play an Indian stereotype I will always refuse. For example, that Mary Kate and Ashley movie, â€œNew York Minuteâ€ asked me to play this Indian character and wear a turban and have an accent, and I told them it’s not gonna happen. I don’t need to sell myself out. Especially because my ultimate goal is to become an actor.
SAPNA: What do you think is the hardest obstacle(s) you had to overcome to get to where you are right now?
RUSS: There are always obstacles in anything you do. I focus on what can get me forward, not what is holding me back. If I think about how I could fail, it’s like manifest destiny.
SAPNA: In your act, you talk all about your father. What does he and the rest of your family think of your success in the comedy industry?
RUSS: When I first got into comedy, my family didn’t get it. We didn’t have much money so my family was glad I wasn’t smart enough to send me to an university. I told them that I wanted to be a comic, and they said (in classic Indian accent)â€Ok, now get a jobâ€. Until they saw me on T.V. they didn’t understand that being a comic was a job, that I got paid for.
SAPNA: You have a huge fan base internationally, especially in Canada, South Africa, and the U.K., and with your buzz growing so fast in America, what are you plans for promoting and touring in the United States ?
RUSS: I sat down and made a plan for touring. I am going to tour the whole world and then leave the United States for last. I want to live in the U.S. I figure, I will see the world, then close my mind off to it to settle down and be a true American. I guess I’m just saving the best for last.
SAPNA: Growing up and even today, who are your comic gurus?
RUSS: George Carlton, Steve Martin, Cheech and Chong, and Don Rickles are really the people I listened and looked up to.
SAPNA: What advice do you have to give to young South Asians trying to make it in the mainstream entertainment industry?
RUSS: Don’t take no for an answer and make sure you have no options. A lot of people have to many options. I was in a position I had to do well in comedy or I couldn’t eat. These days, everyone has a degree or something else on the side that is a cushion for them. To really succeed you have to go toward your dream 150%.
SAPNA: What part of India are you from and how close are you to your culture?
RUSS: My mom is from Calcutta and my dad is from Bombay . I claim to be Indian until I meet someone more Indian.
SAPNA: Being a young, handsome, and successful South Asian guy, Sapna readers want to know, are you single?
RUSS: YES, I am Single. Very Single. Could you put in brackets [and is a male whore] ?
SAPNA: What qualities about a female attracts you the most ?
RUSS: I love women. I don’t have a specific type. Obviously I like attractive women. I like a nice booty. If a chick has ugly feet then I am outta there. You know like they look like she has been playing soccer with a medicine ball?
SAPNA: Where can our readers purchase your DVD or see you next?
Check out www.russellpeters.com there are tons of links and directions on how to purchase or watch my stand up.
Related link: http://www.hahaha.com/comedy_tour/artists.aspx?l=en-ca&id=2
â€” NATASHA KHAN