Canada's Russell Peters tells CBC Radio audience: North Americans are the only tight-assed PC

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George Victor
Canada's Russell Peters tells CBC Radio audience: North Americans are the only tight-assed PC

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George Victor

Questioned by The Current's Tremonti, Peters Wednesday said that he had to be "particularly careful" of his language in the U.S., and to a lesser extent in Canada.  The rest of the world embraced his humour without question.   I don't have TV, and had never heard the fellow before. I was reminded of my first exposure to All in the Family. Do others find his humour "culturally freeing", incorrect, or something in between?

al-Qa'bong

He's honest.

I noticed how he said there were things he just could not say in the US.  He told Pollyanna that free speech doesn't exist down there.  Apparently Lenny Bruce died for nothing.

6079_Smith_W

Really? He should try wearing a swastika in Germany as part of his act.

(just remembering a great article I read a year or so ago about an American fellow - who happened to be Jewish - and walked around sporting a Hitler moustache just to see what would happen.

I do take Peters' point, and personally I do think there is a place for transgressive humour and art. But I am sure if he looked close enough he would see most cultures have their own taboos.

But I agree that things are considerably more repressive here than they are in some other countries (I presume his frame of reference is continental europe) on matters sexual and racial.

 

 

al-Qa'bong

Try wearing a swastika anywhere.

He does look at others' taboos, some of which he incorporates into his act.

His point is that he can't speak as freely in the US as he can elsewhere, including Canada.  If he tried, he's be unemployed in the US.

Life, the unive...

Peters is hilarious and pokes gentle fun at the absurdities in his and other cultures.  That makes some people uncomfortable I guess, which is too bad because we all need to take ourselves a lot less seriously. 

6079_Smith_W

al-Qa'bong wrote:

Try wearing a swastika anywhere.

Yes, but they can actually arrest and charge you over there.

And there are areas in which - for good or ill - there is more free speech in the U.S. than there is here. Not to say Peters is wrong, but he is just looking at it from one angle.

George Victor

Where in the U.S. and from what "angle?"

6079_Smith_W

George Victor wrote:

Where in the U.S. and from what "angle?"

If my understanding is right libel cases in the U.S. have a much higher standard - proof of malice - rather than simple liability, as it is in Canada.

Also the standards of truth in reporting are stricter here than they are in the U.S. Further to that, I think anyone who listens to much American radio or TV realizes there are plenty of things people say down there which might get you a complaint to the Human Rights Commmission or the CRTC. 

Or the threat of it, anyway, as the Ann Coulter sideshow demonstrated.

The Howard Stern radio show was broadcast edited into Canada after a CRTC ruling, and I think it was banned at one point. 

I think there are plenty of ways in which information is restricted more in the states than it is here - primarily through copyright takedowns, but that is more a matter of presumed ownership than fewer restrictions on speech. 

And by "angle" I was speaking generally. Clearly from Peters' perspective doing his job Americans are more uptight and I don't doubt he is correct. But I also see plenty of areas in which - for good or ill - there are fewer restrictions down there.

Here's an interesting article that popped up on facebook today, which makes some relevant points on the issue. Apparently you can legally threaten violence down there so long as you don't tell them when you are coming. On the downside, apparently it is okay for some people (and the government)  to kill people for what they say - or what they are afraid they will say./

http://www.salon.com/news/first_amendment/index.html?story=%2Fopinion%2F...

 

Kanada2America

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

OK, I don't know of this guy.  What kind of things does he say in his act that he CAN'T say in the U.S(and sometimes can't say in Canada)?

Does the guy do handicapped Auschwitz victim jokes or something?

George Victor

  • Russell Peters - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Russell Dominic Peters (born September 29, 1970) is a Canadian comedian and actor. He began performing in Toronto in 1989 and has been nominated for four ...
    Outsourced - Comedy Now! - Red, White, and Brownen.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell_Peters - Cached - Similar
  • al-Qa'bong

    Ken Burch wrote:

    OK, I don't know of this guy.  What kind of things does he say in his act that he CAN'T say in the U.S(and sometimes can't say in Canada)?

    Does the guy do handicapped Auschwitz victim jokes or something?

    Not even close.  He pokes fun at differences between ethic groups, which makes his white liberal audiences squirmy (they don't see colour) and white conservative audiences reach for their Smith & Wessons.

    Lachine Scot

    Just type his name into youtube to get all kinds of standup pieces.

    That's what I did yesterday after reading this.  He seems like a pretty funny guy.  He has a real knack for imitating accents.

    Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

    al-Qa'bong wrote:

    Not even close.  He pokes fun at differences between ethic groups, which makes his white liberal audiences squirmy (they don't see colour) and white conservative audiences reach for their Smith & Wessons.

    One of the best in the comedy business.  Like the all the best comedians he makes most people laugh at their own prejudices by presenting them as someone else's.  Also like all really good comics he pisses the hell out of the true believers of all varities.  

    So please white people beat your kids so they can fit in.  Great humour although it is generational in that Canadian born parents my age were quite permissive but my Dad had much the same philosophy as Peter's Dad. 

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeWFm0VfXtc

    Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

    OK...I'll check the guy out.  I"m always a little suspicious of people who make comments about all the cool truth they can't tell because of "PC", so I guess I had a reflex response.

    al-Qa'bong

    On a related note...

    Quote:

    Was my talk controversial? It shouldn’t have been, but even if some thought it was, we should welcome controversial topics in school. What better place to grapple with differing ideas? If students cannot uncover and discover truths in school and explore systems in an effort to become not only better educated about the realities behind our choices but also gain the power to be conscientious choicemakers and future changemakers through their careers and professions, then what are we hoping to achieve through schooling? Questioning, thinking critically, assessing systems to ensure they are just and humane are deeply American values, built into this country’s DNA. Only in a totalitarian state would my talk have been too dangerous; it certainly shouldn’t have elicited fear in the U.S.

    No Controversy Allowed! On Getting Kicked Out of a Middle School

    Maysie Maysie's picture

    I like Hari Kondabolu way better than Peters. Peters is a hit with white folks because he says so much stuff that if THEY were to say it they'd be accused of being racist. He reiterates that it's okay for white folks to be racist. Edited to add: I do like some of his stuff though.

    And W.Kamau Bell is hilarious.

    Life, the unive...

    Everyone has their own sense of what is funny and not funny.  So like what you like.

    However, I have seen Peters live twice over the years.  Both time as the white guy, out with in one case family and in the other work collegues, I was a tiny minority in the hall.  So I don't think that is a fair statement at all. 

    6079_Smith_W

    Just goes to show that comedy is highly subjective.

    And whoever came up with the line that all comedy is based on suffering is right.

    al-Qa'bong

    Quote:

    Peters is a hit with white folks because he says so much stuff that if THEY were to say it they'd be accused of being racist. He reiterates [sic] that it's okay for white folks to be racist.

    Right.  Obviously; how could it be otherwise?

    Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

    Maysie wrote:

    I like Hari Kondabolu way better than Peters. Peters is a hit with white folks because he says so much stuff that if THEY were to say it they'd be accused of being racist. He reiterates that it's okay for white folks to be racist. Edited to add: I do like some of his stuff though.

    Thx for the link Maysie I had never heard his stuff.  If I said most of Chris Rocks jokes the same thing would happen.  I actually think he points to the reality that there are racists in every race.  That is of course one of us white guys few comforts in the whole racism thing. It doesn't make up for the fact we have nastier ones than most races with real power but none the less its all we have.  

    Laughing

    Here is a great Indian comic.

    Pass the Generky so I can feel my roots.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6gu-t2lPCA

    Dodger718

    Peters makes ethnic jokes, yes, but he doesn't do it with malice. It's a reflection of his having grown up in a very diverse community in Miossissauga and he pokes gentle fun at habits, mannerisms, etc. of different cultures and the cultures he's joking about are the ones laughing the hardest. He's also a very talented impressionist.

    Buy, yes, I remember watching his comedy act on TV one night and my American wife was rather shocked, saying that people back home would likely be offended by the routine versus considering themselves in on the joke the way we do here.

    voice of the damned

    re: Americans being more uptight about humour. Is there ANY taboo that Southpark hasn't violated with aplomb over the last decade or so? Though I guess that's a late-night show, targetted at a chronically jaded audience, whereas Peters targets his act more at a prime-time, family friendly audience.

    The rest of the world embraced his humour without question.

    Well, what was the nature of the "humour" was was selling in "the rest of the world"? I'm sure people in Belfast would be quite happy to chuckle at jokes about accent differences between accents among Canadians. But what kind of reaction would he get if he started in with jokes that opened "So a Catholic and a Protestant walk into a sectarian brawl..."?

    I"m always a little suspicious of people who make comments about all the cool truth they can't tell because of "PC"

    Uh, yeah. Very often, "I'm being censored by political correctness" is just a self-aggrandizing way of saying something like "I was screaming a bunch of racial slurs against black people, so black people stopped coming to my show."

    I was reminded of my first exposure to All in the Family.

    When Norman Lear dies, I fully intend to compile a list of every single sociopolitical issue I first became aware of as a result of watching his sitcoms(mostly AITF, to a lesser extent the Jeffersons). It will be substantial, to say the least.  

     

     

     

    George Victor

    Yeah, I too had a sheltered childhood.

    voice of the damned

    George Victor wrote:

    Yeah, I too had a sheltered childhood.

    Well, even a kid who attended the School Of Hard Knocks would probably have needed Norman Lear sitcoms to know about some of the issues they covered, which included Miranda rights, the Jewish Defense League, and Thomas Jefferson's black offspring.

    And anyway, everyone pretty much had a sheltered life compared to Archie Bunker who, despite being a lower-middle class guy of no particular significance, somehow managed to have major social issues playing themselves out in his living room week after week.

    Pogo Pogo's picture

    I remember asking who the Black Panthers were and why was it funny that Edith gave them a donation.

    George Victor

    They were marvelous in their entirety.Laughing

    Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

    Great American comedy with some universal elements.

    When SCTV came out I had pretty much seen enough of Archie and his "dumb" wife  and thought it was not only funnier but had far better social commentary, but maybe thats a cultural bias. 

    George Victor

    Perhaps we advance, in this at least? Sure hope the junior types think that this nostalgia is so 20th Century. Hope they can articulate their feelings/reaction and "come out."

    voice of the damned

    When SCTV came out I had pretty much seen enough of Archie and his "dumb" wife  and thought it was not only funnier but had far better social commentary

    I liked SCTV, but I never thought that they did particularly hard-hitting social or political commentary. Mostly, they just made fun of TV shows, and to some extent the entertainment industry as a whole. I mean, sure, Count Floyd was spoofing crappy Z-grade horror movies, but that's not quite on par with, say, Mike schooling Archie on Manifest Destiny(when Arch was studying for his high-school diploma).

    And I liked the MacKenzie Brothers as much as the next guy, but let's face it. It was really a lot of pandering to middle-class Canadians' self image.

    But if you're comparing AITF to SCTV at the time when SCTV was in its artistic ascension, I might agree. Because by that point AITF was definitley in its decline, with decidely toned-down political humour and a more liberal-friendly Archie Bunker(there was a whole ongoing subplot about him having a gay friend.)

     

    WilderMore

    Maysie wrote:

    I like Hari Kondabolu way better than Peters. Peters is a hit with white folks because he says so much stuff that if THEY were to say it they'd be accused of being racist. He reiterates that it's okay for white folks to be racist. Edited to add: I do like some of his stuff though.

    What a facile comment.

    voice of the damned

    [url=http://www.cynical-c.com/2009/02/27/richard-nixon-analyzing-all-in-the-f... Nixon discussing AITF's "glorification" of homosexuality.[/url]

    This is also the tape that the conspiracy theorists love to quote, because at the end he talks about going to Bohemian Grove. The problem for them is, he doesn't make it sound anything like the diabolical rituals they like to imagine.

     

    Veeravel

    Yeah, in Mississauga, ethnic and race jokes are abound. I make fun of my Arab or Polish friends and they make fun of me. The racist jokes, if anything, are essentially a sign of closeness for a lot of us here. I guess maybe some "closet racist" might get the kicks out of Russell Peters' jokes but they probably get a kick out of "American History X" and "This is England as well. He doesn't reiteriate that its ok to be racist but he does acknowledge that everyone can be racist and that, very much so, non-whites are terribly racist against themselves and as welll as whites.

    If you want an actual example of comedy that essentially tells you its ok to believe stereotypes than you need to check out the hilarious but so incredibly racist and politcally incorrect "Mind Your Language" (which unsurprisingly is extremely popular in Asia of all places).

    Russell peters is a great comedian and I do like his jokes but they have gotten old after every single person tells you them. I heard half of his jokes from people before I actually heard him.

     

    stevebrown

    He may be right, but as someone who loves stand up comedy and youtube, that combination has allowed me to view most of russel's material, and I gotta say he ain't cutting edge. While it may be true white ethnics are reluctant to laugh at their peculularities moreso than other ehnic groups, his comedy can be boiled down to "meso solly" for ALL ethnic groups, it's just that, as we know, whites are extremely sensitive to jokes being made about them. Still though, his material is sub par in general.