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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Peters review

My review of the Russell Peters 20th Anniversary Tour at GM Place last night is up at the Straight site already. It'll be out in tomorrow paper, too.

As you can tell from the review, I was really impressed with Peters. I'd seen him both at Yuk Yuk's and at the Orpheum over the years. This was my favourite. Usually I much prefer watching a comic (or a band, for that matter) in a more intimate setting. Clubs are my favourite. But for some reason, the arena show is the one that really won me over. Go figure.

I especially liked that he didn't try to make it an event. Sure, the former deejay starts the evening with two deejays, but they're there basically to get the masses into their seats. And a local dance troupe came out for about a minute or two as an intro to the man. But other than that, it was the same set you could see in a club. Great sound and good camera work gave it an intimate feel.

Peters isn't breaking any new ground, but so what? He's really good at what he does, especially the crowd work. He's relaxed, confident, conversational and in-the-moment. When talking with a Chinese-Canadian man in the front row with his whole family, Peters said, "You have four kids? Jesus Christ! You really took advantage of not being in China... You're like the US in Iraq. You'll never pull out."

He's got some nice imagery and wordplay, too. He did a big chunk on the word 'cunt', repeating it so often it lost all shockability. He said it sounds so mean when we say it because it sounds like "a really big rock thrown in the middle of a lake." But when the Irish say it, it sings – "coont" – and went on to demonstrate how lovely it can sound.

He spoke of his tiny member and huge ballsack, saying it looked like his "prick was resting on a beanbag chair." He talked about the cruel irony of the attack in Bombay (he still calls Mumbai by its old name) on July 11. "We got hit on 7-11."

Any comic who reaches his heights has a catch phrase his fans love to hear but the rest of us think is retarded. To his credit, Peters snuck his in cleverly. Envisioning he'd be kidnapped in Jordan, he thought of the video when his captors would say, "We have Russell Peters" before demanding he "Say it! Say it!" He meekly stumbles out: "Somebody... gonna... get a... hurt..." And doesn't even have to finish it. The crowd was sated. Yes, he brought it back for his closer in the encore in a story about an impressive dump his dad took, but even then it didn't seem forced. More like an ironic take, which also served to give the crowd what they wanted.


Anonymous said...

who opened for him?

Guy MacPherson said...

Nobody. Two deejays play for about half an hour while the throngs get to their seats. Then some local dancers he found while here hosting the Junos came out and did a little dance to introduce him. That was it. He went from 8 pm to 9:45, then a 15-minute encore.

Anonymous said...

that's awesome, I can't imagine many comedians being able to do that - in fact I don't think I've ever seen a headliner not use any other comics as an opener. have you?

Guy MacPherson said...

Bob Newhart only uses musical opening acts. Rickles doesn't have an opener usually (once I saw jazz singer Kenny Colman opening for him). Paula Poundstone had no opener of any kind. Cosby didn't have one. I don't think Bill Maher did, either. Neither did Derek Edwards. Ditto Ron James. And Jay Leno. I don't think Ron White had one. None for Steven Wright. Nor Robin Williams.

So, yeah, it happens.