With his unique mixture of lightning-quick wit and first-rate observational skills, Russell Peters has become one of the most successful comedians in the world — he’s sold out venues such as London’s 16,000-seat O2 arena and set records in Australia and Singapore for the largest audience attendance at a stand-up comedy show. Now he will be performing at the Granada Theatre on September 4 as a part of the Laugh Out Loud Comedy Festival. The Santa Barbara Independent was given the opportunity to interview Peters. Here’s what he had to say.
What first got you interested in doing comedy as a career? Did it come to you as a gradual realization? It wasn’t really [gradual]. From the moment I got onstage, I immediately loved doing comedy. There really wasn’t any sort of ulterior motive. I just loved it.
Do you remember your first time onstage? Oh god, I was horrible. [Laughs.] I was given a five-minute set for an open-mike night, and I ended up doing about two minutes before I ran out of material. Luckily, I got a few giggles, and that was enough to give me the bug. That’s one thing you have to remember about comedy: No matter how famous you are, you are never above bombing.
Who are some of the top comedians working today? To say one comedian or another is the best just doesn’t feel fair. It’s an exciting time to be in comedy because so many people are able to be funny in so many different ways.
What is it that draws you to comedy? Other than that I have to pay the bills? [Laughs.] I never feel like I’m working. Every day is fun, and every day I want to get better.
So your comedy can be pretty controversial … Who me? I think you got the wrong guy. [Laughs.]
Is that something you do intentionally, or does it just come effortlessly for you? I’m the youngest child, which always made me very mischievous. I liked seeing what I could get away with, and that naturally finds its way into my comedy.
Going from city to city, are you constantly tweaking your act and trying new jokes out? Always. Your act is never finished. From beginning to end, you’re going to be seeing a different show from one city to another. The comedy muscle is like any other muscle. If you’re not exercising it, then it’s going to get lazy. You have to keep working.
Russell Peters, Thursday, September 4, at 8 p.m., Granada Theatre, 1317 State St. $48-$75. Call the box office at 899-2222 or see lolcomedyfestival.com.