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Blog // Thoughts
May 6, 2012

Russell Peters Live In Singapore

Last night I had the chance to catch the first of Russell Peters two sell-out shows in Singapore. Along with 10,000 other fans, I made my way to the Singapore Indoor stadium with high hopes of a fun night’s entertainment. The Rockstar Comedian Peters has become something of a rockstar in the comedy world. He […]

Last night I had the chance to catch the first of Russell Peters two sell-out shows in Singapore. Along with 10,000 other fans, I made my way to the Singapore Indoor stadium with high hopes of a fun night’s entertainment.

The Rockstar Comedian

Peters has become something of a rockstar in the comedy world. He recently played a 13,800 seat gig in Sydney, the largest ever in Australia for a comedian and has broken comedy event record sales in a number of countries, including the UK. His concert DVDs are best sellers and there are millions of views for clips of his routines on YouTube.

Peters’ brand of humour is a mix of observational humour, satire and mimicry. It’s an understatement to say he has a gift for accents. Anyone can do a simple Chinese accent. But, it takes skill to really understand the differences between Chinese languages and regional accents, then translate that back into the different ways Chinese people speak English, then turn that into a memorable comedy routine!

And, he does it with all sorts of other Asian, Middle Eastern, European and Latin American accents. No wonder Peters has such a global audience.

Peters In Singapore

When we arrived, DJ Ono was spinning a cool set. The music was interrupted at regular intervals by a loud announcement suggesting anyone caught trying record the concert (or use a mobile device) would be ejected from the show.

It was a mood killer, but I didn’t mind. It must be career-shorting for a comedian to have their routines prematurely posted all over the internet. And, anything that stops people holding mobile phones over the heads, or in front of the them, during a live performance is OK with me!

Before the main show, we enjoyed a short, sharp set from comedian Joey Medina. Medina was funny, blue and topical. He made some of the obvious jokes about Singapore (no chewing gum, no pornography), but also picked up on some recent news stories as well. He was a great “wake up and shake up” opening act.

Then Peters took to the stage for an hour and three-quarters, with no break and no encore. His set was hilarious, daring, well paced and simply masterful. Most of his material was new and the few jokes we had heard before were substantially reworked.

The Comic Edge

It’s fair to say that Peters often flies close to the wind; making observations that would be considered offensive in other circumstances. He gets away with it because, of course, he’s funny. But, he also gets away with it because of his Indian background, he’s a “minority” he’s one of the types he mocks. In fact, a lot of his humour is based on the kinds of jokes we make about our own kind.

Peters liberally picked on audience members in the front rows, identifying different ethnicities then using the interactions with audience members to launch into routines. However, there was one joke that didn’t fly. Peters was asking a Chinese Singaporean which languages he spoke. When the young man said he didn’t speak Malay, Peters asked if maybe that was beneath him, which was met with jeers from the audience. Interestingly, after that Peters made hardly any jokes about Chinese people and Chinese accents.

However, he more than made up for it with some great routines about India and Indians. It was kind of fitting, because there were a lot of Indians in the audience. Having lived in India myself, I was in tears of laughter at some of the routines. His story about meeting a Bollywood actress still has me in fits of laughter, 24 hours later.

The Power Of Laughing At Ourselves

Sometimes, when confronted with great satire, or observational comedy, we find ourselves saying “that’s so true.” I think that’s part of Peters’ appeal as a comedian. It’s what stops his humour from being cruel, or offensive.

Although, I did wonder how his jokes about Australians would have been received Down Under. While I don’t agree that Australian is the worst accent in the world, it certainly isn’t one of the most attractive either. And, I totally* agree that the common greeting, “how are you going,” deserves to be mocked.

There was a wonderful moment when Peters was talking to an audience member called Usman (a fairly common name in Pakistan and Northern India). Peters couldn’t quite catch the name, because of the way it was being pronounced; us-man. Then Peters asked if it was ooz-mun, and when that was confirmed, Peters said, “don’t say it like a white guy.”

A lot of us who have grown up as Third-Culture kids have had that struggle, being able to say our name in our own language. Laughing at ourselves and the absurdity of our situation is incredibly liberating. There’s something wonderful about being able to see the humour in everything and ultimately, the humour in ourselves.

When we can laugh at ourselves then we are on the road to true freedom.

*if you were at the gig, then you know to read that as toe-tah-lee!

Perki 12 years ago

I was there tonight for the second show and had a great time laughing all the way. It did seem as if he was censored with no Chinese or Singapore-related jokes. A real shame as he did pick on the Aussies, English, Americans, Middle East and of course India and Pakistan.

A real shame he didn’t do his great Chinese/English accent and it would be awful to hear that he was advised to steer clear. If one can’t laugh at oneself…..

Bugis 12 years ago

Was there..this guy is great !!!

Sad though there were no Singapore jokes…..non whatsover…..very very telling isnt it….

Katherine 12 years ago

Was there yesterday for the second show! Absolutely enjoyed the whole show laughing all the way from the start when Joey was doing his part and then Russell came in with all his fantastic jokes.

I was a bit disappointed that there was no Chinese or Singaporean jokes too! People should really not be so uptight with his jokes. What a waste indeed. Would have been better but still a great show!

william 11 years ago

I would love see him some local or japanese or thailand jokes ya

ILoveSingapore 9 years ago

Good article dude. No doubt I take pride in Peters being Indian, as I’m an Indian too. Maybe he took Singapore as the proverbial “fine” country too seriously and thought he might end locking himself up in prison for any satirical jokes on the Singaporeans here ha ha…

Somebody gonna get a hurt real bad !!!

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