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Russell Peters: Standup hits arena circuit with sellouts

Comedy Impact Report 2010: Standup Guys

Russell Peters has long stood out in a crowd. After all, how many Anglo-Indian comedians are there, mining their heritage and accents for laughs? But recently the crowds Peters has been standing out in have gotten bigger — much bigger.

After nearly two decades in clubs, the Canadian standup became the first comic to sell out Toronto’s Air Canada Centre in 2007. The following year, he sold out Madison Square Garden. Since then, he has wowed huge crowds everywhere from London’s O2 Arena to the Sydney Opera House.

“Selling 14,000 seats in Sydney felt big,” says Peters, who says his original goal was just to make a living as a comic. “I was playing much smaller venues my last time there, four years ago.”

With no hit movie and no sitcom (a 2007 pilot for Fox went nowhere), Peters’ stardom is strictly viral — to the tune of 35 million hits on YouTube. In 2010, he became an author (“Call Me Russell,” a thoughtful, serious memoir) and a husband, with fatherhood on the way.

He’s excited about his baby’s “release date” and also thrilled that NBC now wants him to develop a series. He’s confident it will make it to air, with his voice and persona intact. “If they can put ‘Outsourced’ on the air, they can give me a show,” he jokes.

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