Russell Peters, who takes the stage at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino tomorrow night (Feb. 6), is best known for his unique breed of ethnic-based humor, and the very modern way he rose to fame: YouTube. The Indian-Canadian comic says he “trudged along for 15 years before anyone even noticed.” After one of his shows was uploaded to YouTube in 2003, it went viral, and his popularity skyrocketed; these days, websites often crash when his shows’ tickets go on sale, and Forbes has named him the seventh highest earning comedian in the world.
This is your fourth world tour. Have you been to Miami before?
RUSSELL PETERS: Yeah, I love Miami and South Florida. For me, the crowd’s always awesome because there are a lot of West Indian people there: Trinidadians and Jamaicans, and lots of island people. Of course all the Cubans, and a lot of Puerto Ricans, [are] out there, too. It’s so funny because it depends on which part of the country you go to, you see different batches of immigrants. Like, you see Latinos everywhere, but they’re different.
Right, and they don’t necessarily like being confused with one another either. They’re really proud of their heritage.
RP: I know, and I actually do a joke about that. I didn’t know there was a hierarchy in the Latino world. Because I have a house in California now, but I know you can’t see a Latin person and assume they are Mexican. I might say, ‘Hey dude, are you Mexican?’ and they say, ‘No, dude, do I look fucking Mexican?’ Well, yeah. You’re 5’4 and your name is Hector. And we’re standing in Home Depot! Why would I not think you’re Mexican?
Do people ever get upset about the jokes?
RP: No. People know that my intent is always good: It’s to make you laugh. So, I mean, it’s not done out of malice, it’s done with the intent to make you laugh.
Since you started out in 1999, and especially since the YouTube fame ten years ago, you’ve made a huge success for yourself financially and created a really interesting life.
RP: It’s a great thing, but it’s also kind of crappy for me, because I have a daughter now, and I miss her a lot. Actually, when I woke up just now I saw that my ex-wife just called—and she never calls. It’s usually a text. So I thought something was wrong and I called her back and I said, ‘What’s up?’ and she said, ‘Oh, nothing, the baby just kept grabbing the phone, pretending to talk to you, so I called you for her.’ She’s two. She’s doesn’t speak a lot, she says a few words and then rambles on with whatever gibberish babies do.
So you’re single now? Who is your celebrity crush? What is your type?
RP: I don’t know. I keep changing because they always change. I had a good crush on Anne Hathaway until she got married. And when I heard that, I was like, ‘F--- you, b----,’ like she did it to spite me or something. You know who I used to love, and then she went and got married, too? Roselyn Sanchez.
So you like a little Latin spice!
RP: I have Latin fever. That’s why Miami is always good for me. Give me some hot celebrities that I should be looking at!
I don’t know. I just wanted to get a bead on your type. I mean, are you looking for more like a Jennifer Lopez versus say a Claire Danes or Kirsten Dunst?
RP: Oh God, definitely not Claire Danes. That s--- is all boiled potatoes to me.
RP: A boiled potato [will] fill you up, but it don’t taste like nothing. I don’t mind if they have meat on them. I like when women who have little flaws. I don’t want a chick that looks like she can’t take a punch. Just kidding! But to be honest with you, my type—every girl I’ve ever dated or that my friends have ever seen me with—they all look the same. They all have tan skin, long dark hair, and a great body.
Well that’s what everyone looks like here in Miami!
RP: I know. If any of your friends look like Rosalyn Sanchez please bring them backstage.
Ok, yeah, some of them do. Too bad I look like Claire Danes! Well, more like a combination between Claire Danes and Matt Damon.
RP: Matt Damon? Well, that’s awkward.
What’s next for you? You’re not looking for your own sitcom or TV gig?
RP: I have to be honest with you. I’d love to be ‘in’ with the cool crowd in Hollywood, the TV and film people. I wish I could pinpoint the thing they don’t get. But they don’t get it. I always feel like I get dismissed, as if it’s ‘he just does this, and only these people like him.’ I’m like, you need to come to the show to see how extremely diverse my audience is. And then when you see the show live, ‘Oh! It’s not just this and it’s not just that.’ It really is like high school! If you’re not kissing the cool kid’s ass, well then, you’re on your own, buddy.