Russell Peters

Russell Peters
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Russell Dominic Peters (born September 29, 1970) is a Canadian comedian and actor. He began performing in Toronto in 1989 and won a Gemini Award in 2008.

Russell Peters was born in Toronto, Ontario to Eric and Maureen Peters, and from the age of four, he was raised in the suburb of Brampton, Ontario. His family is of Anglo-Indian ancestry and is Catholic. His late father was born in Bombay, India, and worked as a federal meat inspector; he is regularly mentioned and featured in his comedy work. Peters attended Chinguacousy Secondary School for grades 9–10, and North Peel Secondary School in Bramalea, for grades 11–12.In school, he was regularly bullied because of his race, and eventually began boxing, which enabled him to counteract the bullying. Peters also became a hip hop “junkie” in his youth, and by the 1990s, he was a well-connected DJ in the Toronto scene.


Peters began performing in Toronto in 1989. His popularity extends to several countries, as he has since also performed in the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Afghanistan, Sweden, South Africa, India, the Caribbean, Philippines, Vietnam, mainland China, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan, Norway, Lebanon, Oman, and Malaysia, among other places.

Peters attributes a performance he did on the Canadian TV comedy series Comedy Now!, in 2004, which was uploaded onto YouTube and became viral, as the turning point in his career. While the initial video upload featured his performance in its 45 minute entirety, subsequent videos uploaded by other YouTube users were snippets of that performance, chopped into each of the cultural groups he targeted. According to Peters, those snippets made their way to those specified cultural groups, and were well received by them.

Notable performances

In Canada, Peters became the first comedian to sell out Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, with more than 16,000 tickets in two days for the single show. He ended up selling over 30,000 tickets nationally over the two-day sales period. His show in Sydney, Australia on 15 May 2010 had an audience of 13,880, making it the largest stand-up comedy show in Australian history. He broke a UK comedy sales record at London’s O2 Arena when he sold over 16,000 tickets to his show on 2009.

He hosted the Canada Day Comedy Festival 2006. Peters participated in a USO tour of Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, Africa and Greenland in November 2007 with Wilmer Valderrama and Mayra Veronica. Peters also currently produces and stars on the radio situation comedy series, Monsoon House, on CBC Radio One.

Peters was the host of the 2008 Juno Awards televised ceremonies in Calgary on April 6, 2008, for which he won a Gemini Award for “Best Performance or Host in a Variety Program or Series”. The 2008 awards broadcast received the second-highest ratings ever for the program. He was asked to host the Juno Awards for a second year in a row. The 2009 Juno Awards took place in Vancouver on March 29, 2009.


His debut comedy album, Outsourced, aired on Comedy Central on August 26, 2006. The DVD version features his uncensored performance. The DVD has been popular, especially in Canada, selling over 100,000 copies. Outsourced remained on the National DVD Chart over one and a half years after release. Peters released a second DVD/CD combo, Red, White and Brown, in Canada on September 30, 2008, and in the U.S. on January 27, 2009. The album was recorded on February 2, 2008, at The WAMU Theatre in Madison Square Garden. Peters and his brother, Clayton Peters, who is also his manager, self-produced and financed Red, White and Brown. In May 2011, Peters released The Green Card Tour: Live from the O2 Arena, a live performance recorded in front of a total audience of 30,000, over a two-night performance at O2 Arena in London, England.

On October 26, 2010, Peters released his autobiography, Call Me Russell, co-written with his brother Clayton and Dannis Koromilas.


According to Forbes, Peters earned an estimated $15 million between June 2009 and June 2010, continuing his run as one of the highest-paid comedians after earning an estimated $5 million in the prior year’s report. He was ranked as the seventh highest paid comedian by Forbes.

Comedic style

Russell Peters’ stand-up performances are mostly made up of observational comedy where he uses humour to highlight racial, ethnic, class and cultural stereotypes. He often refers to his own life experiences growing up in an Indian family and impersonates various English accents of different groups in his act to poke fun at each group. As Peters told an audience in San Francisco, “I don’t make the stereotypes, I just see them.” Peters uses his minority status to allow him to poke fun at different races in his performance, but according to an interview done for The National, he does not intend to put down or offend different races and cultures, but instead tries to raise them up through humour.

Peters is widely known for his punchlines, “Somebody gonna get a hurt real bad”, in which he tells a joke about his childhood with a traditional Indian father who would use corporal punishment, and “Be a man!”, while imitating a Chinese man trying to get him to pay more for an item at a shop.

Personal life

Peters proposed to girlfriend Monica Diaz on July 10, 2010, at the Los Angeles International Airport. He announced the engagement via Twitter. The couple married on August 20, 2010 at A Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. The wedding was attended by about 20 guests, including an Elvis impersonator. Soon after, Peters told The Canadian Press that Diaz was pregnant, stating, “Did I get married because she was knocked up? I would say that expedited it.” Peters and Diaz’s daughter, Crystianna Marie Peters, was born two months early on December 14, 2010. In a March 2012 interview, Peters revealed that he and Diaz were divorcing.

Peters lives in Los Angeles and owns two homes there. He also owns homes in Las Vegas and Vaughan, Ontario.

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