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Russell Peters hasn’t lived in Canada for nearly 16 years. The award-winning comedian, who started his career in Toronto in the late ’80s, made the move to L.A. in the mid aughts and hasn’t looked back.
This year, however, the 51-year-old has found himself back on home soil. Peters is starring as a judge on Roast Battle Canada, a spin-off of the hyper successful Roast Battle, an American TV show that pits two comedians against one another in a bid to deal the most burns. The first episode of the new Canadian comedy show airs on Canadian Thanksgiving (October 11).
“In typical Canadian fashion, we took a long time to follow suit. But we did it and we’re doing it the Canadian way first,” says Peters. “We’re not innately a mean bunch of people.”
The show has already been renewed for a second season and Peters says it’s only going to be better, darker, meaner and funnier. The renewal means he’ll be spending even more time in Canada working on the show, too.
“I’ve been gone for as long as I was here [in Toronto], basically. And so that’s a whole new crop of comedians,” he says. “It’s an opportunity for me to reconnect with my Canadian comedy community.”
It’s fair to say that Peters is now a veteran among Canada’s funniest people. He’s carved out a comfortable space for himself in the comedy world, topping Forbes’ Highest Paid Comedian lists on several occasions, including in 2013.
“I’ve had, I think, three or four different Rolls-Royces in my life and I’ve never hung on to them,” he says. “A few months, I’m like, ‘I feel like a douchebag driving this. I’m going to get rid of it.’ And I do every single time. But at first I’m like, ‘I can’t believe I’ve got a Rolls-Royce.’ Then I’m like, ‘I feel like a dick. I’m getting rid of this.’”
While L.A. has its draws, there is one thing that the comedian says is better north of the border:
“Toronto [has a better food scene than L.A.] any goddamn day of the week.”
Complex Canada’s Alex Narvaez caught up with Peters to talk more about the show, the evolution of hip-hop, space travel, and his new podcast, Culturally Cancelled. Watch the video above.