Comedian Russell Peters on cancel culture and his Amazon Prime Video special, ‘Deported’

Comedian Russell Peters on cancel culture and his Amazon Prime Video special, ‘Deported’

TORONTO — Canadian comedy star Russell Peters says he feels so-called cancel culture is dismissive and he wants to explore the topic in his act in a way that opens up the conversation from all viewpoints.

The 49-year-old Brampton, Ont., native has a new comedy special on Amazon Prime Video, Russell Peters: Deported, which was shot in Mumbai, India and covers everything from his personal life as a father of two, to his Indo-Canadian heritage and the racial stereotypes he’s known to confront.

The typically outspoken comic/actor is also touring smaller comedy clubs and says he’s working on new material about how call-out culture fails to consider the nuance of certain scenarios.

“I’m actually trying to figure out how to word it all right now,” Peters said in a recent interview.

“I want to talk about opening this conversation, but I want to word it in a way that triggers you and makes you understand at the same time. So I’m trying to walk this fine line right now.

The Canadian Press spoke with the Los Angeles-based Peters about the new special and the effect of a socially conscious era on comedy.

CP: Why give this special the title Deported?

Peters: I’m a brown man from Canada living in the United States during the Trump administration — who do you think is going to get deported first, or thrown in a weird camp?

CP: And why did you shoot it in Mumbai?

Peters: I’ve made a lot of jokes about India and Indians and Bombay in the past, and I wanted them to know that it was done out of love. And what better way to show your respect to somebody than taking a moment in time and capturing it forever in their city, and letting them know, ‘Hey, I did this out of love’?

CP: It seems like it’s a tough time for some comedians with so-called cancel culture. How do you feel about all of that?

Peters: They call it ‘cancel culture.’ It’s just dismissive is what it is. They’re trying to fight people being dismissive of them by being dismissive of them. So that’s really what the cancel is — you’re cancelling each other out. This generation is wanting us to open up and expand our horizons and accept different things and become more open to their way of thinking. And I would say that most of my generation is open to all of that. But the problem is, I have questions, and you’re not allowed to ask questions. Like, ‘You’re attacking me.’ ‘I’m not attacking you. I just have questions…. I just want information. I’m not attacking.

‘The more we know, the easier it is for everybody to accept. Okay, you don’t like that word? Well, let’s discuss it. Let me tell you why I use the word. And I understand why it offends you, but I want you to understand why it’s not offensive when certain people say things; or you’ve got to focus on the intent when somebody says something as opposed to the word, you’ve got to look in their eyes and the tone of their voice. You’ve got to pay attention to all of these details. You can’t just be triggered like that. Then you’re not helping any kind of cause, you’re creating problems.’

CP: Is this making it more difficult to be a comedian?

Peters: No. I mean, ultimately (comedians) don’t care … about your feelings, because we know what our intention is. If there are 50 people and one person gets offended, you have the right to get offended. But you also have the right to walk away and not have to listen to this anymore. You don’t have the right to try to end my career because you didn’t like what I said.

That’s what we’ve got to get rid of: the knee-jerk reaction from the powers that be that are like, ‘Oh, they didn’t like it. Oh, we’ll get rid of it.’ I’m like, ‘No, why can’t we explain? Why can’t we have a discussion about this?’ You wouldn’t do that at home: ‘I didn’t like the way my husband talked to me. We’re getting a divorce.’ ‘Wait, what?’ It doesn’t work like that in real life.

So we’re making an unrealistic world for people to grow up in. We have a potential generation of extremely soft people. And we’re also at the brink of war. Do you want those people on your front lines? ‘No, they’re shooting missiles. Oh my god, I’m offended by these missiles. Hashtag no missiles.’ It’s all the stuff I’m working on.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dustin Mitchell (Coats) is wanted by police in relation to a homicide this past Wednesday. (Photo contributed by Red Deer RCMP)
Red Deer RCMP looking for man in relation to homicide

An arrest warrant has been issued for a Red Deer man in… Continue reading

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 1,731 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday

The province’s central zone has 992 active cases

Collin Orthner, manager at McBain Camera in downtown Red Deer, stands behind the store’s counter on Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
A few Red Deer businesses happy with Black Friday results

While this year’s Black Friday wasn’t as successful as it was in… Continue reading

Le Chateau Inc. is the latest Canadian firm to start producing personal protective equipment for health care workers, in a July 3, 2020 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Hundreds of millions of dollars for frontline workers yet to be released, says Alberta Federation of Labour

Information recently released by the Alberta Federation of Labour suggests more than… Continue reading

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre speaks during a news conference Monday, Nov. 16, 2020 in Ottawa. Poilievre says building up the Canadian economy post-pandemic can't be achieved without a massive overhaul of the tax system and regulatory regime. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Conservatives attack Trudeau’s ‘reset’ but they have ideas for their own

‘We don’t need subsidized corporate welfare schemes that rely on endless bailouts from the taxpayer’

In this undated photo issued by the University of Oxford, a volunteer is administered the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
Moderna chairman says Canada near head of line for 20 million vaccine doses

Trudeau created a firestorm when he said Canadians will have to wait a bit to get vaccinated

There were 47 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta Tuesday. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
Spread of COVID-19 in Brampton, Ont., linked to systemic factors, experts say

‘We’re tired. We’re numb. We’re overworked. We’re frustrated, because it’s not our rules’

The courthouse in Iqaluit is shown on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. Three Nunavut judges, including the chief justice, are at odds over whether prison conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic should be considered when sentencing offenders in the territory. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Emma Tranter
Nunavut judges disagree on how to sentence offenders during pandemic

IQALUIT — Three Nunavut judges, including the territory’s chief justice, are at… Continue reading

A corrections officer opens the door to a cell in the segregation unit at the federal Fraser Valley Institution for Women during a media tour, in Abbotsford, B.C., Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. Independent reviews of the hundreds of inmates placed in segregation over the past year found only a handful were inappropriate, new government data indicate. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Few federal inmates moved from solitary after external reviews, new data show

‘There can be rare cases where the removal may not be immediate’

A couple embrace during a ceremony to mark the end of a makeshift memorial for victims of the Toronto van attack, at Yonge St. and Finch Ave. in Toronto on Sunday, June 3, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
‘I’ve been spared a lot,’ van attack survivor says as she watches trial alone

Court has set up a private room for victims and families of those killed in the Toronto van attack

Banff National Park. (The Canadian Press)
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

EDMONTON — A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths on railway tracks… Continue reading

Cows on pasture at the University of Vermont dairy farm eat hay Thursday, July 23, 2020, in Burlington, Vt. Canadian dairy farmers are demanding compensation from the government because of losses to their industry they say have been caused by a series of international trade deals. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Lisa Rathke
Feds unveil more funding for dairy, poultry and egg farmers hurt by free trade deals

OTTAWA — Canadian egg and poultry farmers who’ve lost domestic market share… Continue reading

Most Read