Russell Peters

Not to be confused with Russell Peterson or Peter Russell.
Russell Peters

Russell Peters in 2008
Birth name Russell Dominic Peters
Born (1970-09-29) September 29, 1970
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Medium Stand-up, television, film, radio, books
Years active 1989–present
Genres Satire, observational comedy, improvisational comedy, black comedy, Insult comedy
Subject(s) Racism, race relations, stereotypes, multiculturalism, Indian culture
Influences George Carlin,[1] Steve Martin, Cheech & Chong,[2]
Don Rickles,[1] Eddie Murphy
Spouse Monica Diaz (2010–2012; divorced; 1 child)

Russell Dominic Peters (born September 29, 1970)[3] is a Canadian comedian and actor of Indian descent. He began performing in Toronto in 1989 and won a Gemini Award in 2008. He currently lives in Los Angeles.[4]

Early life

Peters was born in Toronto, Ontario, to Eric and Maureen Peters. When he was four, the family moved to the nearby city of Brampton, Ontario. His older brother Clayton now serves as Peters' manager.[5] Peters is a Catholic of Anglo-Indian descent.[6] His late father was born in Bombay, India and worked as a federal meat inspector; Peters regularly features stories about him in his comedy work.

Peters attended Chinguacousy Secondary School for grades 9–10, and North Peel Secondary School in Bramalea for grades 11–12.[7][8][9] In school, he was regularly bullied because of his ethnicity. He eventually learned boxing, which helped him resist the bullying.[10]

Peters also became a hip hop "junkie" in his youth. By the 1990s, he was a well-connected DJ in the Toronto scene.[11][12]


Peters began performing in Toronto in 1989. He has since gone on to perform in several countries worldwide.[13]

In 1992, Peters met comedian George Carlin, one of his biggest influences, who advised him to get on stage whenever and wherever possible. Peters said he "took that advice to heart, and I think that's the reason I am where I am now."[14] In 2007, 15 years later, he hosted one of Carlin's last shows before Carlin's death the following year.[10]

Peters attributes his 2004 performance on the Canadian TV comedy show Comedy Now!, which was uploaded onto YouTube and became viral, as the turning point in his career. While the initial video upload featured his entire 45-minute performance, YouTube users subsequently uploaded segments of the performance where Peters focused on individual cultural groups. According to Peters, those segments made their way to the "targeted" cultural groups and were well received by them. The video and its viral nature was referenced by Peters on his performance, Outsourced, when the audience cheered to the reference he made to his previous jokes, to which Peters exclaimed, "Look at you, you filthy downloaders!"[15]

Notable performances

In 2007, Peters was the first comedian to sell out Toronto's Air Canada Centre, selling 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. He broke a UK comedy sales record at London's O2 Arena when he sold over 16,000 tickets to his show in 2009.[16] His show in Sydney on 15 May 2010 had an audience of 13,880, making it the largest stand-up comedy show ever in Australia.[17] Peters' performances on May 5–6, 2012 in Singapore also set attendance records for a single stand-up comedian at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.[18]

Peters hosted the Canada Day Comedy Festival 2006, and participated in a USO tour of Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, Africa and Greenland in November 2007 with Wilmer Valderrama and Mayra Veronica.[19] He also currently produces and stars on the radio situation comedy series Monsoon House on CBC Radio One.

Peters was the host of the televised 2008 Juno Awards ceremonies in Calgary on April 6, 2008,[20] for which he won a Gemini Award for "Best Performance or Host in a Variety Program or Series". The show received the second-highest ratings of any Juno Awards broadcast. Following the show's success, Peters accepted an invitation to host the Juno Awards for a second consecutive year; the 2009 Juno Awards took place in Vancouver on March 29, 2009.

On September 28, 2013, Peters was awarded the 2013 Trailblazer award by the Association of South Asians in Media, Marketing and Entertainment (SAMMA) for his contributions to the world of comedy. He is among the first South Asians to achieve international success in the field.

DVDs and book

Peters' debut comedy album Outsourced is from his performance aired on Comedy Central on August 26, 2006. The DVD version is uncensored. 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 its 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. It was recorded on February 2, 2008, at the WAMU Theatre in Madison Square Garden. Peters and his brother Clayton 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 two nights at O2 Arena in London, England.[21] The show was directed by Dave Higby, who produced Outsourced.

On October 26, 2010, Peters published 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 the prior year. Forbes ranked him as the third-highest-paid comedian.[22][23] In 2013, he earned $21 million, according to Forbes estimate.[24]

Comedic style

Peters' stand-up performances feature observational comedy, using humour to highlight racial, ethnic, class and cultural stereotypes. He often refers to his own experiences growing up in an Anglo-Indian family, and impersonates the accents of various ethnic groups to poke fun at them. As he told an audience in San Francisco, "I don't make the stereotypes, I just see them."[25] In a 2006 interview with The National, Peters observed that he did not intend to put down or offend different races and cultures, but tried to "raise them up through humour".[26]

Peters is widely known for his punchline, "Somebody gonna get a hurt real bad." It ends a joke he tells about his childhood with a traditional Indian father, who used corporal punishment on his sons. Another punchline he utilizes is "Be a man! Do the right thing!", which relates to a story of a Chinese man trying to get him to pay more for an item at a shop.[27]

When interviewer Larry King asked Peters, "Is there such a thing as too taboo?", Peters replied, "I don't talk about religion because I think people are a little weird about religion, especially nowadays, and I'm more of a science guy than I am a beliefs guy. I'm more into facts than I am into beliefs." In an interview with Al Jazeera, Peters said he "refuses" to talk about religion.

On Episode 115 of the Comedian's Comedian podcast, British comedian Gina Yashere accused Peters of consistently and admittedly stealing her material over a period of several years, including on many of his televised specials.

Personal life

Peters dated former pornstar and actress Sunny Leone for a brief period in 2008.[28]

He proposed to girlfriend Monica Diaz on July 10, 2010 at the Los Angeles International Airport and announced their engagement via Twitter. The couple married on August 20, 2010 at A Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, Nevada. The wedding was attended by about 20 guests, including an Elvis impersonator. Soon after, Peters told The Canadian Press that Diaz was pregnant, saying, "Did I get married because she was knocked up? I would say that expedited it."[29] Their daughter Crystianna Marie Peters was born two months early on December 14, 2010.[30] In a March 2012 interview, Peters revealed that he and Diaz were divorcing.[31][32] He is now engaged to Ruzanna Khetchian.[33]

Peters lives in Los Angeles, California and owns two homes there. He also owns homes in Las Vegas and Vaughan, Ontario.[4]

In 2010 Peters established the Russell Peters North Peel Scholarship, an award worth up to $20,000 and intended to finance up to three years of college.[34] It will be awarded annually to a student from Judith Nyman Secondary School (formerly North Peel) with a strong academic record and the intention of attending college.[9][34]

Peters was a Christian (Roman Catholicism)[35] but no longer practices the religion and is now an atheist.[36]




Peters has appeared in many films. He acted in the Punjabi-Canadian Breakaway (2011), alongside Camilla Belle, Anupam Kher, andnay Virmani. That year he also acted in Duncan Jones's Source Code (2011) as Max, an amateur comedian with a bad attitude; and as Pervius in National Lampoon's 301: The Legend of Awesomest Maximus (2011).[37]

He appeared in Senior Skip Day (2008), which starred Larry Miller, Tara Reid, and Gary Lundy. That year he was also in The Take (2008) as Dr. Sharma. Earlier he had cameo roles in Boozecan (1994) as Snake's Friend, Tiger Claws III (2000) as Detective Elliott, My Baby's Daddy (2004) as the obstetrician, and Quarter Life Crisis (2006) as Dilip Kumar.

Peters has guest-starred on the TV series Mr. D as the school superintendent. In 2011, he starred in a Canadian TV Christmas special, A Russell Peters Christmas. Guests included Michael Bublé, Pamela Anderson and Jon Lovitz. The show attracted the highest number of viewers of any CTV Canadian holiday special.







  1. 1 2 Alan Cho, Gauntlet Entertainment (2005-11-24). "Gauntlet Entertainment — Comedy Preview: Russell Peters won't a hurt you real bad! - 2005-11-24". Retrieved 2009-07-30.
  2. "Said with a Punch". The Official Website of Russell Peters. 2006-12-01. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
  3. "Russell Peters biography". Tribute. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  4. 1 2 Hough, Robert (September 2009). "Lighten Up". Toronto Life. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  5. Comedian Russell Peters talks about his manager and big brother, Clayton. Toronto Star. Accessed on March 25, 2013.
  6. "Archive from The Official Website of Russell Peters". 2013-04-27. Retrieved 2016-11-01.
  7. Post Reply. "Russell Peters". Retrieved 2011-03-11.
  8. Jonathan Morvay (2010-04-30). "Punchline Magazine Blog " Russell Peters creates $20,000 college scholarship — Comedy Blog, Comedy News, and all things in Stand Up Comedy". Retrieved 2011-03-11.
  9. 1 2 "Comedian Russell Peters awards scholarship to Randy Adams". Retrieved 2011-03-11.
  10. 1 2 "Call him grateful", The Globe and Mail. Accessed on November 6, 2012.
  11. FAQ, Accessed on November 6, 2012
  12. "RUSSELL PETERS: COMEDIAN, DJ, ANTI-FIST PUMPER", DJ Mag, Accessed on November 6, 2012
  13. Mohr, Jay. "Mohr Stories 87: Russell Peters". Mohr Stories. Fake Mustache Studios. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
  14. Russell Peters - 10 Comics to Watch Accessed on March 25, 2013.
  15. "Russell Peters: Outsourced Aired on COMEDYP — Ark TV Transcript". Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  16. "The Official Russell Peters Website, Hi-lites". Retrieved 2011-08-07.
  17. "World laughs with you". Sydney Morning Herald. 13 May 2010. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  18. "Have a hearty laugh". TTGmice. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  19. "USO visits Bagram". United States Department of Defense. November 21, 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-24.
  20. "Russell Peters to Host The 2008 Juno Awards, April 6 on CTV" (PDF). CARAS. February 5, 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-02-16. Retrieved 2008-02-05.
  21. De Giorgio, Lorianna (31 May 2011). "Russell Peters releases third DVD, panic ensues". Toronto: Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  22. Lacey Rose. "In Pictures: The 10 Top Earning Comedians - 7) Russell Peters". Archived from the original on 2012-07-31. Retrieved 2010-12-17.
  23. Lacey Rose. "In Pictures: The 10 Top Earning Comedians - 9) Russell Peters, (tie)". Archived from the original on 2013-01-04. Retrieved 2010-07-06.
  24. Feeney, Nolan. "No. 3: Russell Peters - In Photos: The Top-Earning Comedians of 2013". Forbes. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  25. Piccalo, Gina (16 April 2010). "No joke — Russell Peters is a famous comedian". LA Times. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  26. Clifton Joseph, "Russell Peters Interview on CBC The National, May 30th 2006"
  27. Nguyen, An (19 May 2009). "Defying Stereotypes and Breaking All Laws of Decency, Russell Peters Lets It All Hang Out". (Cult)ure magazine. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  28. Goyal, Samarth (September 2013). "Sunny Leone is a real sweetheart: Russell Peters". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
  29. "Russell Peters and wife, Monica Diaz, expecting baby girl in February". 680 News. October 26, 2010.
  30. "Russell Peters eases into fatherhood and film". CTV News. May 31, 2011.
  31. "Russell Peters: Bring on the Funny". Gulf News. March 19, 2012.
  32. "A busy Russell Peters divorcing, renovating, touring world". The Globe and Mail. June 15, 2012.
  33. "Russell Peters Is Engaged!". Z1035 Radio. October 4, 2016
  34. 1 2 Morvay, Jonathan (2010-04-30). "Russell Peters creates $20,000 college scholarship". Retrieved 2011-03-11.
  35. "Russell Peters: Indian Names".
  36. "Russell Peters Celebrates 25 Years in Comedy With Massive Crowds, Big DVD Sales".
  37. Compolongo, Gabrielle. "EXCLUSIVE: Russell Peters Talks Source Code, Working with Jake Gyllenhaal". Movie Fanatic. Retrieved 29 January 2012.

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