Russell Peters on fame, beef with Aziz Ansari, and his chat with Jim Norton (Laughspin Interview)

International comedy star mega-star Russell Peters sat down with the hilarious Jim Norton yesterday (photo above) to talk about stand-up, foot fetishes, and the fall of hip-hop culture (did you know that Peters used to be an accomplished breakdancer?!). Peters is in New York City for his performance at the brand new Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn this Saturday, a 15,000+ seat arena! He took questions from an intimate crowd of about 15 SiriusXM subscribers who were very excited to meet such a big name comedian. You’ll be able to tune in today at 2 pm ET and 8 pm ET on the Raw Dog channel!

The two funny men discussed Peters’ third arena tour and past specials. “I didn’t like my last DVD [The Green Card Tour],” he recalls, commenting on a fight with his now ex-wife right before he took the stage. “You can see it in my eyes on that DVD. There’s a blankness in my eyes.” Peters appeared both humble and proud of his current status as one of the best-selling comedy acts in the world. He also shed some light on his beef with another Indian-American comedy darling, Aziz Ansari. Allegedly, the Parks and Recreation star disrespected him during a congratulatory handshake at an awards ceremony. He wanted to lash out “but the guy’s so small you can’t hit him,” Peters said.

Peters’ comedy is universal and relatable to all walks of life (well, life on two legs at least). This was visible in the diversity of the fans in the small crowd during the recorded interview. White, black, Indian, young, old, students, and suits all shared the same thrill of asking their own questions.

I sat down with Russell after the Norton interview for my own super-short lightning-round teaser interview:

What do you think about the diversity of your fans here today? You had all sorts of races. You had different ages. You had young. You had old. You had mega-old. I think there was a 70-year old guy in the second row!
I think I’m very fortunate to be one of the few comics who can draw such a broad demographic. You go and see some comics and there’s only going to be white people. You see certain comics there’s only going to be black people. You see certain comics and there will be black and/or white. But mine is black, white, Asian, Indian, and Other. I’m fortunate enough to have that sort of cross-section.

You were talking with Jim [Norton] about mainstream success. Jay Leno once said, “You’re not famous until my mom has heard about you.” You’re a pretty big deal. You’re about to play the Barclay’s Center for about 15,000 people! How much more mainstream success could you want?
You know, at the end of the day, it’s highly successful but it’s still– still — not mainstream successful. Like, I walked into the Barclay’s Center yesterday and every employee in there looked at me like they didn’t know who I was. I was like, “My name is Russell Peters.” They’re like, “Do you work here?” “I’ll be playing here Saturday. Does that help?” They all literally have the stunned look of, “I don’t know who you are,” on their face. My poster’s all over the place. I don’t understand. Do you not see things when you come to work?

It’s the kind of stuff like that that makes me go, “Well, okay.” But then there’s the odd person, like out of all the employees, one will know me. I have a weird kind of success where it’s highly successful yet still elusive. I can walk around and not get noticed here. But I could walk down to security and the security guard will be like, “Hey, I know you.” I really do feel like I connect with John Q. Everyman.

So you’d like to do a sitcom or have a stand-out part in a movie? As a replacement for stand-up or complimentary?
I don’t want to give up stand-up. It’s something I love doing. It’s something I need to do. I’ll never give it up. It’s one of those things where you want to add to it. After doing it for so long, you want to expand. DJ’s want to become producers. Actors want to become directors. It’s one of those things that feels like the natural progression for you.

Do you think that cycle comes back around? Where the comic then wants to act, then also write or direct, produce, then back around to performing on stage?
A lot of guys go that way because they stop performing. I don’t want to stop performing. I want to be able to latch onto all those other things, too. I want to be able to perform just as much as I always did. I mean, maybe if the film and TV stuff picks up I may not be able to go on the hardcore tours that I’ve been going on. But on my nights off, I would still drop in at comedy clubs.

You’ll always want to be one of those guys, at the least, who drops in at a place like the Cellar, or the Comic Strip, or the Laugh Factory–
Let me tell you a funny story about the Comic Strip. In 2005, I sold out the Apollo in Harlem. I played it. It was like 1,500 people. It was amazing. It was on a Tuesday. On Wednesday, I went over to the Strip. I had been doing comedy for 16 years at this point. And the lady that runs it made me have someone vouch for me to get on the open mic. So I go on. I did my five or six minutes. And I did me: I talked to the audience, I did my bits. Then she comes up to you after and she critiques you. She’s like, “Well, I don’t like my open mikers talking to the audience. And I guess if you come back, maybe I’ll put you on again.”

She had no idea who you were.
No idea. I’m like, “I just did the Apollo.” I didn’t say it, but in my head I’m like, “I just sold out the Apollo. I’ve been a stand-up for 16-fucking years. You’re going to tell me that I’m not good enough to be on your open mic?!” I just said, “Okay.”


If you want to hear the discussion between Russell Peters and Jim Norton (and you should), the special will air Friday, Nov. 9 at 2 pm ET and again at 8 pm ET on SiriusXM. The special will also be available on SiriusXM On Demand for subscribers listening via the SirusXM Internet Radio App or online at

And if you’re in the tri-state area, tickets are still available for Peters’ show at the Barclay’s Center this Saturday!

photo by Maro Hagopian

Billy Procida

Laughspin editor-in-chief Billy Procida is a stand-up comedian in New York City. He hosts The Manwhore Podcast where he talks to women he's hooked up with about sex, dating, and why they didn't work out. Reach him on Twitter.

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