Entertainment

10 questions with comic Russell Peters: hip-hop, fatherhood and not being P.C.

The line between comedy and music is occasionally crossed.

The late comic Sam Kinison screamed his way through a cover of the Troggs’ “Wild Thing” a generation ago. The late eccentric Andy Kaufman would add odd bits of songs into his often inscrutable set during the late ‘70s.

And then there is Russell Peters, who will bring his Deported World Tour Jan. 30 to the Durham Performing Arts Center.

Peters was part of a team to win a Peabody Award in 2016 for producing “Hip-Hop Evolution,” a Canadian music documentary series about the origins of rap and hip-hop.

We talked to Peters, 48, calling from his Los Angeles home, about his love of the genre and his thoughts on expecting a baby boy.

Q: How did you end up producing “Hip-Hop Evolution?”

A: I’ve been a hip-hop fan my entire life. I have a lot of friends in the world of hip-hop. One thing led to another. These legendary rappers come to my house and hang out.

Q: Who are some of the rappers that hang at your place?

A: Big Daddy Kane, Grandmaster Caz.

Q: What do the old school rappers listen to?

A: Not contemporary rap. When they come over, I blast classic rock and they love it.

Q: What else do you listen to?

A: Not the hip-hop of today. When you listen to classic hip-hop, like (Grandmaster Flash’s) “White Lines” or Public Enemy, you get a snapshot of what it was like back in the day. When people look back someday at this crap that passes for hip-hop today, all they’ll know is that these guys liked big butts and nice cars. But you know what else I’ve been listening to? Yacht rock (laughs). Bands like Steely Dan made some great music. It was intricate. You didn’t just have guitar, bass and drums with Steely Dan. There were conga lines, horn players.

Q: Steely Dan tossed in some humorous lyrics. Has there ever been a funnier rapper than Eminem? He’s like a vicious stand-up.

A: I agree. No rapper is funnier than Eminem. I can’t get enough of his new album (“Kamikaze”). It’s hilarious. Every time I listen to it, I hear a new funny line.

Q: You’ve been a comic for 30 years and for much of that period, the politically correct movement has been strong. Will the pendulum ever swing back?

A: I don’t know. What I do know is that the PC thing is horrible. To me, it says more about the people who are offended than me. The irony is that the PC thing happened because people wanted to stop bullying and the PC police are the bullies.

Q: Your material typically changes dramatically with every tour.

A: It’s all because what I talk about reflects what’s going on in my life. The last time I toured I talked about how fat I was. I lost 24 pounds. There goes those jokes. I talked about being engaged. I’m not engaged anymore. I have a daughter and talked about how I never want to have a boy. My girlfriend is pregnant and she’s having a boy.

Q: Why don’t you want to have a boy?

A: Boys are crazy. They run around like maniacs, and at my age, I just can’t handle that. It’ll be interesting to see how I deal with it.

Q: Mick Jagger and Ron Wood are having kids at an advanced age. It doesn’t bother them.

A: Jagger and Wood are Rolling Stones. They can do whatever they want. I love the guys from the classic rock era. I idolize Led Zeppelin. I would love to meet Robert Plant! When I play Led Zeppelin at home, my old school hip-hop friends love it.

Q: What comic do you idolize?

A: George Carlin was my idol. I got into him during the ’80s. It was just apparent how brilliant he was. My dad was an English major and loved linguistics and so we bonded over Carlin. I met Carlin in 1992 in my hometown (Toronto). I remember getting so excited and I said, “Maybe we’ll work together some day.” He said, ‘You never know, kid.” I opened for him in Hermosa Beach when he was working out material (in 2007). I got all emotional and teary when I introduced him and he said, “You’re making me look bad, kid.”



Details

Who: Russell Peters

When: 8 p.m. Jan. 30

Where: Durham Performing Arts Center, 123 Vivian St., Durham

Tickets: $44.50 and $69.50.

Info: 919-680-2787 or dpacnc.com

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