Russell Peters telling a joke for his Netflix special 'Almost Famous.'

Screengrab via Russell Peters/YouTube

Comedian Russell Peters under fire for sexual assault jokes at Juno Awards

Few are finding his objectifying humor funny.


Samantha Grasso



Canadian comedian Russell Peters cracked a few jokes while co-hosting the annual Juno Awards in Ottawa on Sunday, but not everyone is laughing.

During the live broadcast on Canadian achievements in music, Peters—who is known for his cultural commentary that often teeters on offensive, and his stance against “political correctness”—made a pair of distinctly sexist jokes. The first was a crack on young women and assault, and the second was an objectifying comment about Mélanie Joly, the minister of Canadian Heritage.

“Look at all the young girls. This is a felony waiting to happen,” Peters said. Then later in the broadcast, when Peters introduced Joly before she co-presented an award with artist Coleman Hell, he said, “I don’t know why [she’s here], but she’s hot, so who cares?”

Peters’s comments have since sparked backlash through Canadian publications, with reviews saying Peters intentionally tried to ruin the show with his hosting, and one Canadian rapper calling for prominent men in attendance, such as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Peter’s co-host, Bryan Adams, to disavow the comedian’s comments about young women and assault.

“Imagine how it feels to be a teenage girl in a huge audience of adult men, while one of the men observes into the microphone that your assault is just ‘waiting to happen,’” feminist rapper Kira-Lynn Ferderber wrote. “These girls were there trying to have a good time, or do their jobs, and a 46-year-old man who was hired to host the event chose to sexualize and target them.”

The day after the televised ceremony, Joly told reporters that Peters’ comments were inappropriate, and said his humor didn’t belong at the Junos.

“We need to make sure that all our role models are supporting the importance of gender parity,” Joly said, according to CBC News. “I really hope that [Peters] takes that into consideration and understands…the importance of what he said.”

Peters has taken “political correctness” within comedy to task several times. In 2013 he told India Today that politically correct people aren’t interested in seeing his work, saying, “If you’re politically correct, chances are you’re not coming to one of my shows. I get to go onstage and say things that everybody thinks all the time, but can’t say out loud.”

That same year, Peters told TV show personality George Stroumboulopoulos that the idea to not laugh at intentionally funny but offensive jokes has been “drilled” into heads.

“If you look at TV in the ’70s versus TV now, and you see the things people said back in the day they said the most off-color stuff and nobody’s feelings were hurt. Do you know why? Because it’s about intent,” Peters said. “The intent then was to make you laugh. And the intent is still to make you laugh, but they’ve drilled it in into your head that you’re not supposed to laugh at this. You want to hear the truth? Talk to an old person.”

H/T Ottawa Citizen

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