For someone who calls himself only ‘almost famous’, Russell Peters certainly seems to be in high demand – and for good reason.
Last seen at Shah Alam’s Stadium Malawati in 2012 for his Notorious tour, Peters broke national records by selling out nearly 8,000 tickets in under three hours, prompting organiser LOL Events to add a second show by popular request.
Having had a taste of his signature humour, fans were eager for more and after three long years, the wait was over. Sixteen thousand people were on hand to welcome him back to Malaysia on his two-day stop here as part of his new Almost Famous world tour, marking a triumphant return to the country for the comedian.
As in 2012, official tour DJ Spinbad kept the crowd entertained with a medley of popular hits and classic tracks before New York comic Gregg Rogell took to the stage, warming the crowd up with his own repertoire of blunt quips that covered everything from the digital age to American gun issues.
It was a particular Canadian Indian that the audience had come for that night though and the crowd went wild as Peters finally appeared on stage in a navy blue suit, armed with only a microphone and an affable smile.
From then on, it was a non-stop rollercoaster of laughs as Peters cleverly interspersed witty improvisation with hilarious anecdotes, pausing only for a momentary sip of water now and then.
Audience participation featured heavily in his routine this time, with the chosen few mercilessly – yet good-naturedly – targeted by Peters as he built a whole comedic arsenal around their backgrounds and relationships. Some interesting characters were present over the two nights that provided an endless source of hilarity for all present, including a man dressed all in green, ‘Gandhi’s stunt double’, and ‘the most Chinese Chinese I’ve ever seen’, according to Peters!
“I like to interact with the front rows,” says Peters of his signature back and forth with the audience. “I use the interaction to take me from bit to bit. Some guys go on-stage with a script and don’t deviate from it. That’s not my style. I have my set and know what I want to cover; I just use the audience to move me in certain directions. It’s very collaborative and each show is unique.”
All-new material on ethnic and cultural stereotypes, jobs, the usage of cell phones and dating was promised, and Peters duly delivered with a few choice stories that had the crowd nearly in tears from laughter. Body language is just as effective a medium as verbal expression, and it was Peters’ comical impressions and exaggerated gestures accompanying the jokes which really sold it to the audience.
Peters’ late father has been the source of many of his anecdotes over the years and made a reappearance in his repertoire this time as Peters spoke of his initial ambition to become a breakdancer. Apparently unimpressed by this, Peters’ father spoke instead of the virtues of becoming a baggage handler; but Peters’ alternative choice seems to have worked out well for him!
Those who came expecting some witty commentary on cultural stereotypes – a Peters staple – were not disappointed as he brought them up continuously throughout the night, ranging from career choices to learning ‘dirty Indian limericks’. There was a diverse range of ethnicity in the audience over the two days, which he also used to his advantage as he paired an impressive knowledge of world affairs with sharp improvisation.
After two hours of side-splitting laughter, it was time for the show to end. Hopefully this won’t be the last we’ll see of Russell Peters – safe to say he’s more than ‘Almost Famous’ in Kuala Lumpur for sure!