Russell Peters is one of the most successful comedians in the world. The only problem is his Netflix account has expired. This is causing Peters to miss out on two very important things: Marvel’s Luke Cage and his new Netflix special, Almost Famous.
The title of the special, released on Friday, is tongue in cheek: Despite making Forbes’s most recent list of highest-paid comedians, alongside Amy Schumer and Kevin Hart, he doesn’t get the same level of recognition—at least not in the States. Overseas, Peters is much more popular.
He’s had success with streaming video: Before YouTube existed, several of the Canadian-born comedian’s 2004 clips went viral and he gathered a following online. He was also the first comedian to have a comedy special produced by Netflix: 2013’s Notorious.
Peters’ sets have long relied on accents and observations about ethnicities. In Almost Famous, he breaks out of his routine; he says he knew his set had to evolve. Peters takes on more domestic issues like spoiling his young daughter with expensive furniture and the difficulty of executing a stealth pee in the middle of the night.
His ability to play off his audience is still strong—something he says he got from his dad, who’s a frequent subject of his set: “Because he would listen to you and then just tear you apart. He was a counter-puncher,” Peters tells the Daily Dot.
Peters, who’s been doing standup for 27 years, got some inspiration in another place when he was just 22 years old and starting out:
“George Carlin told me, ‘Get onstage as much as possible,’” he says. “If you're at a bar and the band is taking a break, ask if you could do five minutes.”
In one Almost Famous segment, Peters jokes, “Everything’s race-based, and that’s fine for me because I’ve made a living off it.”
His tours make a lot of money, too, but that’s not what drives the business.
“Some people start out and they want to make all this money,” he says. “I never thought that I was going to make any money off of comedy. I just did it because I loved doing it.
“Don't do comedy for money. Do comedy because you have to do comedy. I always say, I have to do it.”
Peters has advice about failing, too:
“Don't worry about it when you bomb. Bombing is probably the best thing that could happen to you. You don't learn when you kill, you learn when you bomb. When you kill you feel great. When you bomb you feel like shit. Then you gotta replay it in your head and analyze it. And figure out what you did wrong and where you went wrong. And that's really the learning process right there.”
And he has some insight for the younger generation of comedians.
“I always tell the young guys: Don't ever try to look too far ahead,” he says. “There's no finish line in comedy. It doesn't have to be done by a certain time. It's not a sport. It's a career. It's a lifestyle. It's what you are. It's who you are.”
His successful career has a lot of people wondering why his special is called Almost Famous, and why he hasn’t updated his Netflix account information. Maybe he could just borrow someone else’s login. Isn’t that what everyone does?