Russell Peters: Mind Blasting

July 15, 2008
By

“Russell your show was mind blasting. Mmmind Blaasting. Not mind blowing…anything can blow the mind. You just blasted the mind”

Russell Peters, talking about Indians complimenting him after shows.

The venue was the Borgata at Atlantic City, where the Amreekandesi family spent their weekend. We were going to to the Vegas of the East coast as it is, and were pleasantly surprised to find Russell Peters performing this weekend. Me and the missus managed to get prime seats very near the stage.

Close enough, but not too close, if you know what i mean!

Russell Peters and Friends, they called it. Mr Peters and some other stand up comics performed over a couple of hours, and at one point my stomach actually hurt from all the laughing.

First though, for those who don’t know what i am talking about, Russell Peters is probably the most famous south-east Asian stand up comic. You can watch some videos of his earlier performances here and here.

Back to this show. The thing about Russell Peters is that most of his jokes are on race. The others are about sex. Sensitive people will likely not like him.

But then he redeems himself by making fun of all races. He hits at the stereotypes.

Arabs are terrorists waiting to blow up america.
Latinos are all uneducated people good enough only for mowing lawns
Indians in the US run grocery stores.
Koreans run dry cleaning stores.
Blacks will kill you and take your money.
Filipinos love karaoke (that’s one of his favorites)

Then there are the sexual ones. He has this obsession with black men and their big ding dongs. And boy, can he pick on people? Sit in the front row if you want to be part of his jokes. A black couple and an Italian family in the front had a real good time.

Amazingly, he didnt repeat any of his regular stuff. Stuff about Asians shouting out their last names as a cheer (woo! hoo!). Or his famous somebody is gonna get a hurt real bad.

He does give India a bad name though. I wonder how many people form their impression of India from his shows. Some of what he says may be true, but there’s a lot of exaggerations and many non Indians sitting there would think that India is a country of weird practices and customs.

When he wants to portray Indian Indians, he puts on this super fake very thick accent and talks funny sentences. Where did apu come from? Stereotypes such as these ones that earn comics their bread and butter?

Surprise of the evening was Jo Koy. He was introduced by Russell as someone who has so much energy that he is a tough act to follow. So very true. He was Hilarious! He was the one who gave me cramps in my stomach. He was also the one who got the loudest applause.

He didn’t even have to make racial jokes. He made fun of the biggest comedian of them all – George Bush! And told cute stories about his five year old kid and his obsession with his tin tin and how he is constantly trying to rip it off. Oh so very endearing!

“God is busy creating the most beautiful thing he ever created. Little Jesus is running around being a pain and trying his best to get dada’s attention.

God goes – Jeesus Christ! Give me a Break!

Fun evening overall, though i would say that stand up comedy is such a tight rope walk that it could be easy to offend people with the kind of fare people like Russell Peters dish out. It is commendable that he goes at everybody so uniformly that no one group would feel offended.

That’s one special talent.

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22 Responses to “ Russell Peters: Mind Blasting ”

  1. Poonam on July 16, 2008 at 12:32 am

    I have never attended such a standup comedy show. I have watched them only on television. I realise that you had fund, I can understand why.

    But I had a question for you out of curiosity, you say he made lot of Indian jokes. What did ya feel when Indians were target of his jokes. Did you feel embarrassed or sometimes found yourself agreeing with something? Did a faint anger cross your mind? And lastly, do you guys ever feel as unofficial ambassadors of the country when you are in foreign land? I am just curios to know what goes in the mind. I mean no offense or judgment, I hope you understand that.

  2. Reema on July 16, 2008 at 9:07 am

    Like Poonam I have also never attended such a show. But I like watching Seinfeld. DO u watch it?

  3. amreekandesi on July 16, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    @reema: Try watching the youtube videos i linked to. That will give an idea of the kind of jokes these guys make.
    I have watched a lot of Seinfeld. But i loved ‘Everybody loves Raymond’ and Friends more! ‘The Office’ is my current favorite comedy show.

    @poonam: Those are pretty big questions. Here’s what i think:

    I do feel offended when someone says something nasty about my country. i am fiercely patriotic and cannot tolerate anyone insulting India.

    About Russell Peters, his job is to make fun of people and cultures. Most of it is funny. Some parts are not. Like i said, that is the thing with comedy – it is easy to cross the line. But still the good thing about him is he isnt just making jokes about india or indians. He makes fun of everybody, so before you get offended check the chinese guy sitting on your left or the black guy sitting two rows upfront.

    I mean, these guys were making jokes about Jesus in a Christian country. Thats a big deal!

    Also, not all jokes are offensive. There are some that are very close to reality, and you identify with them. Thats the reason for his popularity.

    He has this bit about how indian parents beat their children, but white people dont. This would make the white kids feel left out, he says. Sorta true – indian parents arent scared of their kids unlike in the western world.

    Yes, some bits give India a bad name. He said that when he reached Mumbai the air smelled of shit. I did not think it was correct, but maybe from the point of view of a person from a developed country it is true. We may try to project India as an upcoming economy full of all good, but somewhere the fact remains that we are a poor country. I dislike it when people bring it up, but it still is a fact.

    About being ‘ambassadors’ of India, i know people will sneer when i say this, but yes i do feel like i represent my country. Somewhere this blog is an extension of that idea…talking about India and Indians, and things good and bad about my country. There’s too many cliches and stereotypes going around, and it will take some work to get rid of them.

  4. Dinesh on July 16, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    He is a hilarious one indeed. I also like Carlos Mencia, but some say Mencia has copied some jokes from Russell, but who knows!

  5. Shefaly on July 17, 2008 at 3:43 am

    AD:

    I am curious – why is it ok to laugh at others but not at oneself?

    I think the reason why his jokes upset you – or any jokes upset us – is because much of what he says is true. Bombay air does smell of shit, I am afraid. And even those westerners who are investing in India know this to be the case – they are too polite to say it. But in all this politeness, Bombay air continues to stink of shit. And I haven’t changed my mind because I live away from India now. I thought so when I had to visit Bombay on work in the 1990s too. I hated going to Bombay because of how the city smelled.

    One man’s comedy is another man’s offence. That is the nature of the beast, no? :-)

    You may want to look for ‘Little Britain’ on YouTube and tell me if you still find Russell Peters offensive :-) They take off on every little stereotype that exists in Britain. They have plans for ‘Little America’ but I think it will be very sanitised because Americans are offended easily. Also see Billy Connolly while you are on YouTube – he is a globally popular Scottish comedian whose material is spot-on and painfully funny. Another, a woman, Shappi Khorsandi makes fun of Muslims and particularly Iranians (her own kind).

    PS: I learnt of Russell Peters mostly from bloggers. His material is funny but not subtle. Subtle is when the audience twigs after a while ;-)

  6. amreekandesi on July 17, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Shefaly:

    Maybe i didnt make myself clear, or you didnt read my comments closely enough.

    “He makes fun of everybody, so before you get offended check the chinese guy sitting on your left or the black guy sitting two rows upfront”

    “…I dislike it when people bring it up, but it still is a fact.”

    If i couldnt laugh at myself, i wouldnt go to a Russell Peters show ;)

  7. amreekandesi on July 17, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    And like you said, subtle he is not. Sometimes goes a little overboard.

    Will check out your British comics on youtube. sound interesting ;)

  8. Shefaly on July 18, 2008 at 4:54 am

    @ AD:

    My comment was a response to this bit in your post (not anything in the comments):

    “He does give India a bad name though. I wonder how many people form their impression of India from his shows. Some of what he says may be true, but there’s a lot of exaggerations and many non Indians sitting there would think that India is a country of weird practices and customs.

    When he wants to portray Indian Indians, he puts on this super fake very thick accent and talks funny sentences. Where did apu come from? Stereotypes such as these ones that earn comics their bread and butter?”

  9. prerna on July 18, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    He is funny! He goes a little overboard at times so do most stand up comedians. Somebody or the other is at the receiving end. We laugh at the cost of others so why be touchy when we are the target.

  10. […] Continue Reading […]

  11. Shefaly on July 20, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    So did you see any of those comedians in action yet?

  12. amreekandesi on July 20, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    i saw a few clips of little britain. Its funny, but i didnt notice many culturally offensive jokes. I guess its all contextual – if you know nothing of the culture the jokes mean nothing to you! :)
    Will also checkout the other comics you mentioned…

  13. The Quirky Indian on July 21, 2008 at 4:16 am

    I think Russell Peters is brilliant. I had watched videos of him, and then had the opportunity to watch his show when he was here in Mumbai. Luckily I was forewarned, and so didn’t take tickets for the first few rows! Enjoyed every minute of it. And I would love to watch his new routine.

    I think he’s great. As for making fun of India – everything he says or does is based on more than a little kernel of truth. So what he really does is make us laugh at ourselves (no mean achievement to get us Indians to do that)…..believe me when I say that Indians are more than capable of ruining India’s image without any help from Russell. We’ve been doing it for years.

    Nice blog….

    Cheers,
    Quirky Indian
    http://quirkyindian.wordpress.com

  14. amreekandesi on July 23, 2008 at 12:13 am

    Welcome to my blog Quirky Indian, and thanks for the appreciation.

  15. Hindi Movies on August 15, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    I think Russell Peters is a great comedian. He has many jokes, and is very funny as well. But now that I am watching his newer shows (mostly online), he seems to be repeating many of his jokes. I think that he needs to be more creativity in order to live up to his name, as he has created great expectations of himself. Sugar Sammy is another Indian comedian you guys might want to check out. I actually heard Russell copying one of Sugar Sammy’s jokes. (Sugar Sammy or Sugar Sam)

  16. Hindi Movies on August 15, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    test… this won’t let me comment.. it says i already commented :S

  17. Hindi Movies on August 15, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    here is my real commment:

    I think Russell Peters is a great comedian. He has many jokes, and is very funny as well. But now that I am watching his newer shows (mostly online), he seems to be repeating many of his jokes. I think that he needs to be more creativity in order to live up to his name, as he has created great expectations of himself. Sugar Sammy is another Indian comedian you guys might want to check out. I actually heard Russell copying one of Sugar Sammy’s jokes. (Sugar Sammy or Sugar Sam)

  18. Dancan on September 21, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    I just attended his show yesterday. He is funny. But he did hurt India’s image little bit. First of all he says he has Indian parents and he is Indian by race but cultuarlly he is not an India. So wtf he cares about India? I am live in North America and like all other ethnic groups who maintain their identity I am also Indian and does not like all of Russel’s jokes. Although we Indians have been responsible for some of our problems , are all of our problems of our making? Why not not talk about India’s achievement? We are an uprising democratic country living in a shitty neighbourhood. Are we given due credit for just being what we are and proepering inspite of all odds. Agreed the development could have been faster but has not something been achieved here? Why paint only bad side? Russel – talk about some good side too! Is the western world free of problems? The nature of problems may be different but problems do exist. On a bigger picture India has been a tolerant and Non interfering country at best. Leave it alone you bastard peter!

  19. M-Eve on February 22, 2009 at 12:04 am

    Wow Dancan, I think you completely missed the whole point of stand-up comedy and what Russell Peters’ style is… Stand-up comedy isn’t meant to be a full presentation or discussion about a topic – it’s to make fun of stereotypes, people, race, socio-economic status, etc. Of course there’s more to the story behind the joke, but that’s not the point of stand-up comedy. Otherwise, it would turn into some kind of political debate or history lesson and there wouldn’t be much laughing going on. Russell Peters jokes about western/caucasians too, he’s just not focussed on us – there’s a wide variety of races, nationalities, ethnicities, accents, that he jokes about. Stand-up comedy is supposed to get people thinking and laughing and more importantly – get people to laugh at themselves. It shouldn’t be taken personally :P.

  20. testking 70-290 on June 17, 2009 at 2:00 am

    Russell Peters is a great comedian he has lots of new stuff to present and with hilarious style. I like that man a lots.

  21. Tariq on January 10, 2010 at 7:47 am

    Until yesterday I thought his “Indians are cheap” jokes were retarded till I met and spoke with many Indians settled in America. And now I am a “believer”.

  22. Josh on June 16, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    have to say it, russell does service on cheap indian jokes; havent seem much of him lately though, the last i saw him was a couple of years back

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