Russell Peters’ show yesterday could be divided as follows:
40% of the time, he was picking on a man named Bassel.
20% of the time, he was picking on a 16 year old Saudi teenager called Khaled.
20% of the time, he was rehashing old jokes made at previous shows.
20% of the time, he was offering the audience new things.
The end conclusion is 100% of lameness.
I have watched most of his previous DVDs. So the idea I had pre-conceived about Russell Peters was that he was a good enough comedian to have a great show, albeit with a few slow moments stranded here and there. I wasn’t complaining. You can’t have it all over the top.
But what I had to go through on Saturday night at Platea Hall was definitely not something I had expected. Not in the least.
To begin with, the sound quality of the hall was horrible. Being on a limited monetary income, we couldn’t splurge to get the high-end tickets of the “lucky” front-rowers. So us, the poor commoners in the back, had to sharpen our hearing senses to be able to hear Russell Peters who seemed determined not to get the mic close to his mouth. Some had even tried to shout at him that “we couldn’t hear” but he was busy going at it with Bassel, a 38 year old man who happened to have huge eyebrows. Or caterpillars as Russell called them.
At the times when he wasn’t making fun of Bassel’s eyebrows, he was alluding to the masturbatory habits of 16 year old Khaled from Saudi Arabia. It might have been funny at first but when he interrupts a joke more than once to allude to it, it gets redundant and silly.
After feeling Khaled and Bassel became worn-out issues with the crowd, he moved on to a rehash of his previous jokes, the most famous of which is his father’s Indian heritage and accent. Car blinkers, child punishments – all retold with an Indian approach. Been there, done that.
The newer jokes, however, were not all that bad and some, especially those culturally relevant to Lebanon, were quite good. My favorite was an observation about how rampant plastic surgery has become in Lebanese society. Even the government is giving loans for people to do plastic surgery. We can’t accept ugly people here, he joked. Then a fashionably late Lebanese woman walks in. Peters looks at her and complements her breasts – or governmental breasts.
This leads me to another observation of the night. Lebanese people have redefined the concept of fashionably late and Russell Peters pointed it out. The show was supposed to start at 9:00 pm. It started at 9:30 with an opening act. Russell Peters was on stage at 9:45 and some people were still being ushered to their seats at around 10:00 pm. How hard could it be to get there on time, I have no idea.
When the opening act was better than the main show, you know something was messed up. I felt Russell Peters was unenthusiastic, disinterested, going through the motions to simply get things done and be out of there. He wasn’t really performing like he usually does. He was reciting.
I may be either too serious a person or Lebanese people are way too easily entertained because some were going gaga over the show as it ended. I’d like to think it’s the latter because I can appreciate a good comedy show when I see one. This was not one.