Day 12: Russell Peters

Every day in May, I’ve been sharing stand up I really like. This weekend, I’m talking about 2 classic bits, and today’s literally launched a global career. Here’s “Somebody Gonna Get A Hurt Real Bad” from Russell Peters and a few of the reasons why I still laugh when I watch it:

• THE MISDIRECTS. When comics lead me to anticipate one outcome, only to reveal another, I’m tickled. Russell takes it to another level by embedding his misdirects into dialogue. Take the conversation between Brad and his mom. Neither Brad’s furious reaction nor his mom’s passive response is expected, and both are hilarious. In the final conversation, when Russell threatens to call Children’s Aid, what’s the expected outcome? His dad will halt. What’s the actual conclusion? His dad offers Russell the phone and threatens to beat him while Children’s Aid comes. Once again, Russell’s dialogue subverts my expectations and, in doing so, gets giant laughs.

• THE CHARACTERS. Russell plays 4 characters in this set: an angry white boy, a lax white mom, a naive Indian son, and a harsh Indian father. Not only does he expertly inhabit these roles with voices, faces, and gestures, he gives each person a unique characteristic (angry, lax, naive, harsh) that he can play up for comedic effect. As a result, when the characters collide (like the naive son’s smile turning into the harsh father’s glare), the contrast gives me even more reason to laugh. When he then layers these characters with dialogue full of well-constructed misdirect jokes, he’s got the makings of a classic.

• THE TAGLINE. The phrase “Somebody Gonna Get A Hurt Real Bad” is inherently funny, but I think it became a tagline because Russell used techniques to give it tremendous comedic power. He repeats it multiple times, always using the same unique facial expression and gesture. During the set itself, he also breaks down why he hated the phrase, and in the process, gets us very familiar with it. In the final flourish, Russell employs the phrase as an unexpected callback. This coda gets the biggest pop and elevates just a funny phrase into one I’ll always associate with strong laughter.

For more, follow @russellpeters.