Web Special | Laughing with Russel Peters

Web Special | Laughing with Russel Peters

New Delhi: The audience that had gathered to watch Russell Peters perform in Delhi comprised of a motley mix of people. That comedy transcends age and cultural barriers was evident by the kind of people who were thronging the venue. From groups of school children to grandparents with grandchildren, bosses with colleagues, expatriats and the Page 3 crowd, everyone it seems, was game for a good laugh.

Anglo Indians’ animated style of conversation has always been exaggerated in Hindi movies but used also as comic relief. Russell Peters has become a ‘rockstar’ comedian honing these very original roots of his. He walked on to the stage and the audience gave a shrieking welcome befitting a Shah Rukh or Salman Khan. The hooting and applause just got louder as he took the floor for the next hour.

Russel’s jokes clearly result from his observation of daily life, cultures, people and are just not a mindless narrative that labours over being funny. His comedy pieces made the usual dig at the Chinese, Jamaicans, Scots and Americans.

But his India-specific one liners could have had a larger message for our politicians, bureaucrats and administrators. Touching upon the themes of lawlessness, failure of governance, hypocrisy of the Indian society and absurd laws like banning dancing by the government went down well with the crowds.

The audience heartily agreed with his satirical lines on the ridiculous ban on dancing in Bangalore where dance is so much a part of the Indian culture. He drew attention to how having a ban for every reason without having any regulation on urinating or other serious offences was only indicative of homophobic behaviour.

Russel’s jokes can get graphic and pervert at times but he still enthralls everyone. As the crowd laughed harder and as fathers next to daughters did not cringe at the countless use of the F word, I wondered how the likes of VHP would react to this urban India.

The show was a definite hit but organizational incapability of the capital city failed to make the entire experience smooth. Siri Fort auditorium, which was the venue, needs a facelift, especially if we are going to host international stars of the calibre of Russel.

Though the tickets were priced exorbitantly they were not a deterrent for those who felt no price was less for a good laugh. Houseful boards at venues across India and so many people rooting for the sponsors for free passes showed that Indians were still not done with Peters and even if his official Indian tour came to an end with last night’s show, they are hoping for an encore.