Canadian comedy giant Russell Peters is renovating many facets of his life these days.
The Brampton, Ont.-raised standup star says he’s remodelling parts of his five-bedroom, elevator-equipped Los Angeles mansion that’s been featured on MTV’s Cribs.
He’s going through what he describes as an amicable divorce with Monica Diaz, whom he wed in August 2010 and has an 18-month-old daughter.
And he’s on a world tour that features “no old material,” notes the outspoken arena-packing quipster, who’s known for skewering racial stereotypes, including those of his Anglo-Indian heritage.
“The subject matter will be from the same pool but the jokes will be different,” Peters, 41, said this week in Toronto, where his “Notorious World Tour” runs at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday as part of a tour of Canada.
“I don’t know about reinventing myself but I feel pressure to write, to have new stuff, funny stuff that’s comparable to the old stuff. You have to make sure you’re not just doing inside jokes for the old fans, you want to make the new fans feel welcome too.
“You want them to feel like, ‘Oh, good, we can get on this party bus too.“’
Peters has spent seven months honing his new act, which producers say has already set attendance records for comedy shows in Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, South Africa, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. He’s not ready to film the show for a DVD release just yet but he said he’s really proud of it.
The set covers everything from the places Peters has visited, to parenthood and his divorce. He tested the material in comedy clubs around the U.S. for several months before bringing it on the road.
Peters said the tour title is inspired in part by his reputation (“I’m notorious for doing things,” he said) as well as the recent 15th anniversary of the death of rapper The Notorious B.I.G., also known as Biggie Smalls.
“Biggie’s my favourite rapper of all time, and I was looking at one of my old 12-inches of Big Poppa or One More Chance or one of them and I was like, ‘That would be dope,“’ said Peters, whose shows begin with hip-hop turntable sessions (usually from Toronto’s DJ Starting from Scratch, and New York City’s DJ Spinbad).
“We were going to call it ‘Russ 2012’ and use the Rush 2112 album cover, but then Rush is on tour. And they were flattered by it but they were like, ‘We’re going to be on tour, we don’t want people to think that’s our tour and then get confused.“’
“The Notorious R.U.S.S.” was another tour title he considered.
“But then that’s one letter too many than ‘B.I.G.’ so I just went with ‘Notorious,“’ said Peters, looking particularly preppy in a navy knit sweater, baby-blue pin-stripe pants, pastel socks and steel-blue shoes.
“And if you look at the artwork for the tour ... it’s the same as the Big Poppa 12-inch, only where Biggie’s face is it’s mine and it says ‘Notorious’ and all that info on the side.”
Peters has spent much of his career on global tours, which he said have brought him more money than his film and TV roles have thus far (Forbes magazine named him as one of the Top 10 highest-earning comics in the U.S. in 2009 and 2010).
Though Peters enjoys being on the road, these days it’s harder because doesn’t get to see his daughter, Crystianna, who was born in December 2010.
“I really do miss her when I don’t see my daughter, but when I’m working and I’m on tour I understand why I’m not there,” said Peters, whose film credits include Source Code and Breakaway.
“There are days where I can’t go to her mother’s house to go see her because I have meetings or something and I get caught up and it gets too late and then I’m like, ‘I really wanted to see her today.’ But her mom’s cool. She sends me pictures all the time.”
The “Notorious World Tour” hits Calgary on Tuesday followed by Edmonton on Thursday; Vancouver on June 23; and Winnipeg on June 27th. The tour, which hits other Canadian cities in September and October, runs through 2013.
Peters said he plans to have some guests stay at his home during his absence.
“In fact, Jazzy Jeff called me yesterday and he was like, ‘Hey man, all the hotels are full in L.A., can I stay at your place next week?’ and I’m like, ‘I’m not in town but sure.’ So Jazzy Jeff and Mad Skillz will be staying at my house next week in L.A.”