Sunday, May 6, 2012

Comedy Is Serious Business!

Last night, I watched Russell Peters ‘live’ in concert. Other than a deejay on-stage, there was no musical performance. Only the sound of abundant laughter and applause emanated, in waves, from a sold-out arena called the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Touted as ‘RP: Some Material May Offend Your Heritage’, you had to prepare yourself to be suitably poked fun at, in a nice way of course. Sort of…

Almost every audience member would have been familiar with the Los Angeles-based, Indian-Canadian comedian whose YouTube comedy clips have garnered hits in the 100,000’s. Last night he entertained the international crowd with comical interpretations of cross-cultural differences. His opening act was a comedian from LA, who entertained us with his antics on local law and jokes with plenty of innuendoes. Sure, there was enough shocking moments when the occasional expletive was uttered, or a pleasurable private act was announced. Yet, we knew when to suspend our filters and allow the euphoria of the funny guide us.

Peters, who was on his ‘Notorious 2012 World Tour’, brought the house down right from the ‘get go’, and he did not disappoint. He did not rehash his old act, save for a few glimpses of his ‘Dad’ and the ‘Chinese retailer’ he promoted successfully in the last few years. Like the Internet, content is king. His verbal digs and commentary on contemporary and local issues made his performance more personalized, as he convinced us to relate to natural human behaviors and connect with them. It was a treat to see couples laugh with each other, especially on taboo topics best left for one’s privacy and space. That a stadium-full of people could openly laugh about our own private experiences put us at ease, just seated next to each other, regardless of creed or belief. Humour and comedy are powerful magnets that can attract and unite the oddest of couple, and the strangest of people.

It takes courage to tease a heterogenous audience, especially if the humour is based on teh sensitive tightrope of nationality or ethnicity. Peters is very comfortable taking the mickey out of himself, and even more so with other nationalities he has come into close contact with. He revealed that he was recently divorced, yet the proud father of an infant daughter. Vignettes of new wisdom threaded his comedy, as one can vouch that ‘art imitates life’, and the other way round. To lead with the language of comedy is a reflection of talent, genius and risk-taking.

Somebody’s gonna get hurt real bad! Well, at least with your funnybone. It seems that there are still tickets for his 11 May show at Stadium Malawati in Kuala Lumpur. Be a man – do the right thing!

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