by ASJAD NAZIR FUNNYMAN RUSSELL PETERS BRINGS HIS DEPORTED WORLD TOUR TO THE UK HE MAY have started out in tiny clubs as the lone Asian telling jokes on stage in 1989, but today Russell Pe­ters is one of the greatest stand-up comedians on the planet.   The amazing success has crossed cultural boundaries and enabled him to connect with perhaps the widest cross-section of audiences of any stand-up comedian working today.   That is why there is great excitement about the Cana­dian funnyman returning to the UK for the Deported World Tour this month, with shows in London, Birming­ham and Leeds.   Eastern Eye caught up with Russell to talk about his remarkable journey in comedy, forthcoming shows, getting older, motivation and more… When you started out, did you ever imagine packing out huge arenas around the world?   I never imagined that in my wildest dreams. I start­ed in 1989 and at that time was the first and only Asian guy doing it. My only goal was to make a liv­ing. By making a living, I mean earning a modest amount of money working weekends and just liv­ing my life.   Today you are a superstar of comedy but you seem to cope with the pressure really well. Or is that just great acting?   I don’t look at it as pressure because they are al­ready there to see you, so all you have to do is make them laugh. The hardest part of comedy is winning the audiences over.   You always bring something new. Where do you get your material from or do you have a joke genie?   (Laughs) No, I just live life. My act over the years has become more autobiographical, and that is what it is! People are coming to hear my take on certain things. My take on marriage, being a father or struggling with getting older, and not really un­derstanding that I have to act like an adult now.   When you are putting personal stuff out there through comedy, do you find it liberating or that you are exposing too much?   You have got to be honest in this business and the more, so to speak ‘naked’ you are up there, the fun­nier it is because the more truthful it is. The audi­ence can sense if you are being truthful, when you are fabricating or if you are straight up being dis­honest with them. And they have no problem call­ing you on it.   Some of your most epic jokes have been about your late father, but are you turning into him as you are getting older?   Day by day, yes, I would say I am. It’s not in the broad stroke, but in the little minute details. I get mad when someone leaves a light or TV on when they are not in the room. (Laughs) I get mad over silly things. People go: ‘What is wrong with you?’ and I am like: ‘Shut up, it shouldn’t be like this’.   Your observations of women are amazing; do they have their guards up around you now?   I am sure that they do have their guards up, but as you get older you mellow a little bit. I will be 48 this year and it will be my 29th year of comedy. Your observations of women become more sightful and less insightful.   Who is the funniest person that you know in real life?   Jheez, I know a few people who are really funny. I have a friend named Jamie who is a little person but hilarious. He has one of the sharpest senses of humour I have ever heard in my life. He is not a performer by any means but is quick, sharp and funny. We call him the wolf.   Are you under pressure to be funny in real life or are you one of those tortured geniuses who is re­ally serious?   (Laughs) No, I am always just me! If I make a joke, I make a joke; if I don’t, I don’t. But nine times out of ten I am gonna find the funny in something.   What don’t you find funny?   Comedy is so subjective. What I may not find fun­ny, someone else may find funny. I am not a big fan of slapstick, but the French love it. (Laughs) But what do the French know?   You are not like other Canadian comedians, in­cluding those who came before, and have a more universal relatable brand of comedy. How come you didn’t follow the Canadian crowd?   I think that if I had followed the rest of the Canadi­an crowd, I wouldn’t be where I am at today. You don’t become a leader by following. I never wanted to fit in.   What can we expect from the London shows?   I know you are supposed to say this when you are promoting your shows, but if you look online, in­cluding social media like Insta­gram and the comments on my current tour, this is the first time I have had all positive feedback. People on this one are saying that I seem at my best right now, and I’ll take it.   How do UK audiences compare to others?   I have spent so much time in the UK. I lived and worked there from 1995 to 2002. So for me it feels like a homecoming every time I come back. I feel like I understand the people and don’t need to be that: ‘What do you guys do over here?’ I’m not the whacky American who comes over and doesn’t know you.   Your series Indian Detective is on Netflix; what was the experience of doing that?   I loved it! I had a really great time shooting it and it has been really well received. I need people to hit up Netflix and ask them when will it be coming back, and if it’s not coming back, why not?   You act really well, but why don’t you do more of it?   I would love to do more acting, but again it is about being connected in that world. Hollywood is very cliquey and they don’t like people who make it on their own as they can’t control you then. You are not their product and not their Frankenstein. They like to create their own Frankenstein and I am not that guy because the fans created me and then the fans maintained me. So with everything I do, I think of the fans more than anybody else.   You are self-made and have had an amazing ca­reer, but what is the best advice anyone ever gave you?   The best advice I ever got was from George Carlin in 1992. He said get on stage as much as you possi­bly can. Even if you are at a bar and there is a band playing and they take a break, ask if you can go do five minutes. And don’t get into this business be­cause you want to become rich or famous, get into it because this is all you think you can do. That is why whether I made it or didn’t, I would still be doing this.   Today, what inspires you?   To just stay motivated. There are so many things I still feel need and want to do. I stay focused and want to prove a point. There are some people who say you have nothing prove, but in my head I still have tonnes to prove.   Why do you love comedy?   (Laughs) Because it affords me the lifestyle that I am now living, number one, and I genuinely like to see people laughing and having a good time. I like to be responsible for that.   Finally, can you give a message for your army of fans?   I would like to say thank you for always consistent­ly supporting me over the years and not treating me like a flash in the pan. That means a lot to me, and that is why whenever I come back I always re­turn with a new act and try to be better every time I show up.    The Deported World Tour will be at the Arena Birmingham on Tuesday April 24, The SSE Arena, London (Wembley) on Thursday April 26 and Leeds’ First Direct Arena on Saturday April 28. Tickets are on sale from www.russellpeters.com and www.aegpresents.co.uk