Back when he made an original docuseries for Netflix in 2013, Russell Peters Vs. The World, Peters talked in one of the episodes about how he believed happier comedians made for bad comedy. “What the hell are we so happy about? We’re not here to spread joy. We’re spreading joy through our misery,” he said. “The more things you have going wrong in your personal life, the more relatable you are to everyone else, because everyone else has these problems.”
So diving into his own medical issues, whether it’s thyroid issues or acid reflux, turning 50, or growing up with immigrant parents, can have a lot of resonance.
It’s disappointing, then, that so much of his material is juvenile at best, homophobic at worst.
Turning an online insult of him as “thicker than a Snicker” into a hyperbolically glowing description of his dick is one thing. Warping his father’s pronunciation of “esophagus” so he can repeatedly reply “I have no phagus in me” is just unnecessarily dumb.
I’m not saying Russell Peters is homophobic. But “Russell Peters” the onstage comedian is most definitely, stridently, woefully afraid of being perceived as gay and more than willing to feed into anyone else’s fears of homosexuality. You want to make light of your doctor scheduling an endoscopy appointment by taking it too literally and believing that the scope is going into your end, sure, why not make a joke of that as an initial reaction. Peters, however, refuses to let this dumb-guy schtick go in his re-enactment of the bit, as he tells us how big of a scene he made at the front desk when he shows up for the endoscopy, and how paranoid he reacts every step of the way. At a certain point, Peters has stopped being the butt of his own joke, so to speak.
He’s well past that point when, following the procedure, he doesn’t develop an anticipated sore throat. His go-to joke for this? “I must have the throat of a gay man!…Here I am with all this wasted talent! I coulda been guzzling dick all day!” He acts out said guzzling, then smirks in a further aside: “the envy of a community.”