RUSSELL PETERS: COMEDY CHAMELEON
Scotsman Assembly, Edinburgh
August, 2000

Russell Peters is an Indian Canadian not "native Canadian", but of Asian immigrant parents. Much of his hour onstage is spent dealing with ethnicity of various kinds, both of Indian characteristics and those of the folk he's encountered in various parts of these islands.

Sometimes his set seems too easy, as he moves fairly baldly from chunk to chunk on to girlfriends, on to porn (although I suspect a knowledge of the puritanical British obscenity laws would give him several minutes more of material on the latter score), and even relying on the standard "Anybody here from...?" ploy to introduce his ethnic and regional material. Especially on the Fringe, we are growing used to more subtle and complex structuring of comedy acts, which leaves Peters' straightforward North American approach a little adrift.

This is a pity, as he has a relaxed and winning style. He can work an audience well, deriving much of his first fifteen minutes' worth on the night I saw him from a succession of latecomers and constantly lacing his patter together with references back to a selected few punters. It's perfectly amiable late-night fare, but in comedic terms this chameleon stays largely au naturel.

Written for the Financial Times Web site, ft.com

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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