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Arts and Entertainment

Russell Peters, The Funniest Guy On The Planet?

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On Sunday, one of my buddies and I went downtown to the Oprheum Theater on Broadway for a taping of Russell Simmons' Def Comedy Jam. What can I say? I'm a sucker for lowbrow comedy. So, picture my surprise when after about 30 minutes of the stylings of such comics as Damn Fool (yes, that's his name), host D.L. Hughley came onto the stage and announced the final comedian.

"All the way from Canada...the first Indian guy to sell out the Apollo...Russell Peters!"

When this particular show airs, you should be able to pick me out of the audience immediately. I'm the guy bouncing up and down in his seat and giggling in a near standing ovation while the rest of the crowd only half-heartedly applauds. That's because I know that Indo-Canadian Peters might be the funniest man working the international comedy circuit today.

And by international, I mean international. A quick scan of Peters' Website reveals a touring schedule that includes locations as far flung as Cape Town and parts of southeast Asia. That's because Peters' deft analysis of all cultures enables him to bring the house down in front of audiences of any color. In an age when comedians make a healthy living by polarizing people, Peters is a breath of fresh air. I've witnessed him win over every audience he's performed for. When my buddy leaned over and whispered "who the hell is this clown?" I assured him he would be the funniest comedian of the night.

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I won't spoil the surprise by revealing any of the details of his routine, but like I predicted, this Indian guy turned an initially skeptical (and 90% black) audience into diehard fans in five minutes flat with a routine focused almost exclusively on the regional and cultural linguistics of the word Nigger.

In front of an Asian audience, Peters would have dissected the cultural differences between Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos and Vietnamese. In front of an African audience, he would have riffed on the humorous pronunciation of the "!" in peoples' names (it's the clicking sound, by the way). And in front of a white audience, he would have discussed parenting. The guy's a true chameleon, with a nuanced understanding of people on a cultural level that transcends race. The next time he's in town, do yourself a favor and check him out. He's the perfect antidote to Dane Cook.

Update: Tickets went on sale last weekend for Peters' next Los Angeles appearance, February 16, 2008, at the brand spankin' new Nokia Theatre. Get them soon, because it will most likely sell out!

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