Russell Peters is a global comedy rock star, actor and Internet sensation. His YouTube clips have been viewed more than 60 million times, and he has performed to sold-out crowds from Toronto's Air Canada Centre and New York's Madison Square Garden to the Sydney Opera House and London's The O2 arena, where he established a new attendance record. Over the course of his 20-plus-year career, Peters has headlined comedy festivals throughout North America, won a Gemini Award, hosted The JUNO Awards twice and garnered an unprecedented global following.
And it doesn't stop there. Peters has appeared on Showtime, Comedy Central, HBO, NBC, CBS, CBC and CTV. His DVD releases, Russell Peters: Outsourced and Red, White and Brown have sold more than 300,000 copies. And in 2009 and 2010, he was listed on the Forbes list of top-earning comedians in the United States, along with Chris Rock and some guy named Jerry Seinfeld.
Peters' first book, Call Me Russell, an autobiography, was a number-one bestseller, and his new DVD special, Russell Peters: The Green Card Tour Live from the O2 Arena will be broadcast on Showtime in the United States. He has done USO tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, Djibouti, Greenland and Pearl Harbor, on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and the HMCS Winnipeg, and has appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and Lopez Tonight.The man, you could say, is a little bit popular, enjoying a very colourful life, with his work letting him colour both inside and outside the lines, as he chooses. And now Peters is able to add movie star to his resumé. Recent film work includes the role of Max Denoff in the sci-fi thriller Source Code with Jake Gyllenhaal and the new film Breakaway with Rob Lowe, about a young Indo-Canadian man in Toronto who longs for a career in hockey, against his traditional father's wishes. The film was one of the Canadian movies featured at this year's Toronto International Film Festival. The subject matter is perhaps familiar to Peters, a first-generation Indo-Canadian born in Toronto and raised in Bramalea. In fact, Peters has built an entire career on his "outsider" status as an ethnic minority, specializing in comedy that pokes fun at subjects of race, class and culture, often drawing on his own life. He's well-known for his impersonations and mastery of accents (his website's tag line is "Some Material May Offend Your Heritage"), and the characters that pepper his act.
Peters attributes part of his widespread popularity to a stand-up performance featuring these touchy cultural snapshots on the Canadian TV comedy series Comedy Now! It was uploaded onto YouTube and went viral, fetching over 60 million views. "I don't have any idea who did it," he told Variety magazine about the mysterious comedy-fan fairy who uploaded the clips and pushed his career into the stratosphere. "But I certainly would like to take them out for a nice deli sandwich."
While he now lives in Los Angeles and Las Vegas with his wife Monica and baby daughter Crystianna, his mother still lives in Brampton, and Peters comes to Toronto often. "I come in and I see my mom. I see my friends and I sneak out, but I'm there quite a bit," he told online magazine Lifestyler. "Home is home, you can live wherever you want, but your home is where you're from."