Russell Peters may be one of the most successful comedians of his generation, but as a lad he suffered constant bullying from his peers.
Today, the 52-year-old Peters is known for his lacerating humor and riotous observations.
His willingness to share challenging stories helped his rise to fame, and he’s not backpedaling in our Cancel Culture age.
Far from it.
He recently defended his craft on Canadian television, excoriating those who want to make us think exactly the way they do.
They’re bullies, full stop.
Peters began the conversation by noting how his act has changed over the years, an organic process that captured his personal and cultural growth.
“I can’t believe I said that in complete clear conscious … I guess I thought it was funny at the time, but at the time it was funny,” he said, referring to the use of the F-word for a gay person as one example. “Your job is to push the envelope, and then you understand the envelope keeps moving away, but you’re constantly chasing the envelope, constantly chasing the line.”
The interviewer asked if he had any regrets about older material he wouldn’t repeat today.
“The words are irrelevant. Everything is about intent,” he said. “We’re free thinkers. The minute you try to put reigns on our brains you ruin the game.”
He also defended comedians for what some critics call “normalizing stereotypes.”
Guilty as charged, he said.
“We’ve been doing this from the beginning of time. If you look at old comedy, it’s always been about stereotypes. The stereotype is from somewhere real, and the comedian’s job is to inflate it to the point where it’s comedic.”
Later, Peters described being bullied as an Indian child in Canada, an experience he said taught him something valuable.
Cancel Culture scolds are the new bullies, and yet there’s little attempt to call them out for it.
“I had a horrible childhood when it comes to [bullying], so when people try to bully me now, ‘you said this or you said that,’ F*** you. First of all, stop trying to act like I’m bullying when I know what real bullying looks like. We’re bullying people into doing things that we want them to do, or thinking the way we want them to think. That’s not the way you get it done.
“But for some reason the bully is being celebrated right now. This is a little kooky that we’re being offended by everything,” he added.