The Making of Russell Peters

You know Russell Peters, yes? Of course you do. He's the biggest Canadian stand up comedian there is. Mr. Peters will be hosting the upcoming Gemini Awards, broadcast here on the CBC, Wednesday, September 7 from the CBC Broadcast Centre in Toronto.


But do you know where it all started for Peters? We're going to take a look back at the making of the worldwide star.


He'll tell you himself, the story started in Burhanpur, India, the hometown of his grandfather James Peters and father Eric. One of the questions he gets asked most is if Russell Peters is his real name. Yes, yes it is. Peters is Anglo-Indian. He puts it best:


"Do you know Indian history at all? The British were there for 400 years. You don't think they f***ed one or two of us?"


His father Eric met his mother Maureen in Calcutta (we don't know how... hmm, there might be a story in that) where they were married and his brother Clayton was born. In 1965, they packed up for Canada, specifically Toronto. Russell was born on Tuesday, September 29, 1970 in Bramalea, Ontario. He went to school in Brampton and in his early years was extremely close to his brother.


He still is. Clayton Peters is Russell's manager. As a kid, Russell suffered at the hands of bullies at school. All he had to do back in the day was tell his brother someone was bothering him and it would happen no longer. Along with his father Eric, Clayton is one of his biggest influences and keeps him close to this day. He has a room in Russell's Los Angeles house for whenever he's in the area and they always travel together on tour.


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With his brother and father as influences growing up, later in life he was influenced artistically by the likes of the legendary comedians George Carlin and Don Rickles. In terms of success, Peters somewhat accredits his to YouTube. He started performing at the age of 19 in Toronto - it was 1989. It wasn't until YouTube took off some 15 years later that Peters garnered big fame with clips from his 2003 Comedy Now! Special. At the age of 30 Peters and his brother were still living in the family home. On meeting one of the creators of YouTube at an Asian Excellence Awards ceremony in recent years, he said to him: "thank you for making me rich." If you go to Peters' website you can have a tour of his house in Los Angeles that was filmed for MTV Cribs. He certainly is rich.



After the initial success, Peters has hosted the Canada Day Comedy Festival, the Juno Awards on two occasions and will of course host the CBC's coverage of the Gemini Awards. Among the many, many venues he's sold out around the world are the Air Canada Centre, Madison Square Garden in New York and London's 02 Arena (formerly the Millenium Dome).


As well as selling hundreds of thousands of copies of his DVDs, Peters has now had roles in a few movies and has a sitcom called Call Me Russell (also the name of his autobiography) in the works with NBC in the States. Later this year his new film Breakaway will hit theatres - with its world premier at TIFF this year.


Breakaway is another great vehicle for Russell, we'll get to see the backbone of his comedy - poking fun at (without the intention to offend) his own and other diverse cultures. Not as if he needs more fame, he is a worldwide star. Even outshining the loose cannon (to put it politely) Charlie Sheen at his recent Massey Hall shows.

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