My very first writing assignment for my university newspaper – all the way back in 2005 – was a review of a Russell Peters show. The comedian was performing on campus, and through the whole friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend scenario, I managed to score the comped tickets to take in the show with a lovely young lady so long as I wrote about it. As such, it’s fitting that my PGA Film section debut is a write-up on Peters’ latest live CD/DVD, Red, White and Brown. What’s perhaps most shocking about looking back into the archives and reading that review, other than the fact I’ve made a career out of writing after starting out with some really bad puns and lame attempts at topical humour, is how true my attributes remain to Peters’ act.
As I stated back in 2005, Peters’ charm is his ability to bring people together by ripping them apart. Essentially, his audience gives him carte blanche to exploit stereotypes – racial, ethnic, sexual, and pretty much everything we have stereotypes for – because he’s just so good at it. He makes you laugh at things you shouldn’t be laughing at, and by doing this, I strongly feel he works wonders at eliminating the negative connotations that come with those social constructions. By skewering everyone based on such basic, and often crude, superficial aspects like accents, skin colour and the lot, we’re essentially led to see how shallow and lighthearted such things really are.
Peters works best when he dips into the racial cookie jar – that’s his “thing.” With this hour-and-change special, he often lingers on his jokes a little longer than he needs to. The now-infamous Comedy Now! special that launched his career was so good because we saw a young comedian with something to prove, delivering bits and pieces of a terrific act so well that the few jokes that didn’t pack much punch can be forgotten because he moves so effectively from joke to joke. In Red, White and Brown, Peters will often dwell on some of his material to a point that he begins to bury himself. Rest assured, he’ll always dig himself out, but the fact is there are a few too many wasted minutes of the 70-some he’s been allotted.
Peters’ delivery is flawless. Even if the content isn’t there, he’s always confident and having a good time onstage. His crowd banter is sharp and almost always worth a laugh, except when he falls prey to the cheap immature-but-easy humour (fart noises are a big no-no). Peters is at the point now where he could keep the same act, substituting new content into a cut-and-paste outline, and that would be fine and dandy for his fans and newcomers alike. He’s comfortable with his craft, and usually executes well – solid but not surprising. This isn’t as good as his Comedy Now! special, but does showcase a comedian who’s now a household name and knows his audience like he knows how the Chinese pronounce “asshole.”
Run Time: 78:00
Release Date: September 30, 2008
Check out the song: “Louis Vuitton And Indians”