Before seeing Russell Peters live, I didn’t know it was possible to gasp and snort with laughter simultaneously.
This is what Peters is known for. His humour, characterized by its ridiculous racial stereotypes and imitations, was on full display Saturday night at the K-Rock Centre.
Up until that point, my experience with stand-up comedy had been limited to mostly YouTube clips of Dave Chappelle and Louis C.K.
Initially, I was less than impressed with the set-up of the whole show. It all seemed slightly out of place. Though I’d never been to a comedy show before, I’d expected a more intimate connection between the audience and the performer — which wasn’t achieved until 30 minutes into the act. Two DJs, DJ Starting from Scratch and DJ Spinbad (which he did) headed up the stage as audience members took their seats in the fully-lit stadium.
As they spun cliché club beats, layered with excessive amounts of scratching, I couldn’t help but feel that a show designed for a nightclub made a rather poor transition to the larger stage.
It was only once Peters himself stepped on stage that I realized why he had surpassed the dingy nightclub scene, moving to arena-sized stages and earning himself a star on the Canadian Walk of Fame.
Within minutes, he singled out members in the front row of the audience, creating a conversation with the viewers in the stadium, making them feel like they were buddies of the comedian.
As he continued cracking jokes, I couldn’t help but notice my contradictory reaction — never had I felt so insulted, while simultaneously collapsing in stitches of laughter.
His humour varied in its degree of raunchiness. While complimenting a man in the front audience on the hotness of his wife seemed slightly inappropriate, going into great depth about the skin colour of a visibly uncomfortable black man in the audience seemed outright tactless.
He carried on making jokes about border security and calling the seven Arab guys sitting in one row terrorists, while obnoxiously imitating the French-Canadian accent of another father sitting a few seats farther down.
One thing’s for sure — he was well-versed in the quirks and negative stereotypes of almost every cultural group.
Ultimately, Peters didn’t disappoint. My jaw dropped repeatedly at how closely he toed the line between hilarious and just plain offensive — but ultimately it’s that very shock factor that has him filling stadiums.
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