As a general rule, DVDs of stand-up comedy arenâ€™t nearly as funny as the live show. The atmosphere isnâ€™t the same in a living room as it is in a packed out club or venue, be it the Comedy Store in London, or New Yorkâ€™s Madison Square Garden, the latter theatre being the setting for Russell Petersâ€™ new DVD, Red, White and Brown, filmed last February to a full house.
Now close to 20 years on the comedy circuit, the Indo-Canadian comic has only recently broken through and become recognised (sporadically) around the world. His first major showcase came on Canadaâ€™s Comedy Now, and paved Petersâ€™ route to fame, albeit through illegal downloads and word of mouth.
His comedy crafted out of impersonation, racial observations and his youth, Russell has gained a sizeable UK and North American fanbase, supported by his sold-out night at Londonâ€™s O2 and sell-out dates through India, Dubai and Canada. His shows have become characterised largely by his mockery of Asian cultures and disregard for most social taboos, and thereâ€™s little change in his second DVD outing.
He kicks off almost immediately into his hallmarked impression of Oriental people and their supposed obsession with Dance Dance Revolution. Mixing personal experience with unashamed political incorrectness, Peters delivers laughs even from the people heâ€™s mocking.
And thatâ€™s pretty much the same line he runs throughout the show. Indians bellow laughter after repeatedly being called cheap – an example of one of the running gags Peters uses in all his shows. It is at this point where any fan of his would realise that thereâ€™s not going to be anything particularly new in his routine. The same subjects from his Comedy Now breakthrough are regurgitated here, just a few jokes updated and changed, with very few new matters dealt with. Case in point being the new material regarding his visit to the Middle East, which, though still funny, doesnâ€™t move away enough from his older stuff.
However, this is all said from a person experienced in his comedic stylings. Anyone new to Russell will find plenty to laugh about. Despite the aforementioned problems, he still is unique in his ability to provide colour commentary (metaphorically and literally) with almost any subject unspeakable in normal conversation. Even with his mother in the audience, he ventures into yarns about his sexual misadventures, his fear of deaf people and lack of Indian culture, not to mention more serious topics of media influence and body image.
Red, White and Brown delivers a complete snapshot of Russell Petersâ€™ stand up capability. The special features are just as much value as the feature itself, with a documentary clip on Peters, deleted scenes, bootleg show tapings and snippets from his show onboard the USS Eisenhower. A brilliant orator with wit and a keen social eye, Peters gives the audience what theyâ€™re looking for in him, but those new to him should not expect much variation anytime soon.