Clayton Peters has always been in the habit of looking out for his younger brother. Growing up in Brampton, Canada, the two were latchkey kids and it was Clayton’s job to keep an eye on Russell. And whenever someone tried to beat him up, Russell wasn’t above letting them know he’d tell on them to his older brother.
As they grew older, that dynamic didn’t change. Clayton, who was working for an oil and gas company in Canada, continued to keep an eye on Russell.
When it seemed that Russell’s standup career was catching fire, Clayton set about creating a strategy to for Russell’s rising trajectory. Besides, Clayton’s corporate job was wearing him down.
At the time, Russell suggested that Clayton be his assistant. “I said, ‘Yeah, that’s not gonna happen,’ ” Clayton recalls laughing about such a lowly position being offered him, and instead offered to be his manager. “Even if I get 40 grand a year doing this (managing Russell) I’d be happier than what I was doing.”
Calling on his background as a strategist for the oil company, Clayton mapped out Russell’s career. And after it started to take off, “We started data mining,” Clayton says, reaching out to fans through Russell’s website.
Using fan registration on russellpeters.com, the comic’s team were able to tell fans when he was performing near them.
“That’s how we were reaching out locally,” Clayton says. “Shows were selling out in a matter of minutes around the world without any advertising whatsoever. We continue to do it but not as aggressively. I think we do better on social media, we haven’t hired an outside firm like a lot of guys have. We’re not where we should be on social media, but Russell takes that very personally. Instead of hiring someone to write his tweets, he says, ‘That’s just me talking to my fans.’ ”
Now, as Russell’s manager, Clayton works with Los Angeles-based Paul Canterna of Seven Summits. The two have collaborated for nine years.
“It’s been great,” Canterna says. “Clayton and I have a good relationship. I respect that it’s not an easy job for Clayton, too. Clayton is the guy who has to say, ‘no.’”
Canterna takes care of film and TV deals and the U.S. side while Clayton takes care of everything else, especially the tours.
The brothers produce and distribute his performances on DVD with the help of a production company.
Recalling the first attempt, Russell says it was a disaster. He was performing standup and a group of drunks started heckling him. “Plus a girl threw up in the front row.”
Fortunately they were able to salvage the material and sell it.
A lot of the team’s strategy is really based on what the comic wants to do, Clayton says. “Does he want to tour more, does he want to spend time on film and television, which is sort of where we are headed in 2016. We did very aggressive touring in 2014 and ’15.”
There are still markets that Russell hasn’t tapped, like the Middle East and Asia, Clayton adds. “There’s some substantial revenues to be earned from them, so why wouldn’t you look at maximizing that instead of just leaving them open? We know the demand is there.”
While there are others on Russell’s team — including his agents at WME, a lawyer and an assistant — these two are the masterminds.
“Peters has a great team,” says casting director Linda Lamontaigne.
Clayton is Russell’s toughest critic, Canterna says. He can tell when a bit doesn’t work and what the comic should do.
“We don’t take the business for granted,” Clayton says, “and as far as being a manager goes, I’m always Chicken Little and the sky is always about to fall.”