Somebody gonna get some laughs on Sunday night — at least that’s Russell Peters’ plan when he takes the stage at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary to host the 2008 Juno Awards.
It will be the first time the popular Toronto-born comedian has hosted the ceremony honouring the best and brightest in Canadian music.
It will also be the first time he’s ever seen the awards show.
One might assume seeing the Junos in past years would be a pre-requisite for hosting, but not so, Peters contests.
“It never appealed to me,” he says of past Juno broadcasts. “I think Canada realizes it’s a different (country) to what it once was and they’re trying to appeal to what Canadians really want.”
What Peters, who is now based in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, promises is a grittier hosting presence that strays beyond the format of years past.
“I like the way that Chris Rock hosted the MTV Awards 10 years ago,” he says. “That’s the direction I kind of want to take it. It was cutting edge, it was real, it was funny. You looked forward to seeing him every time he came out.”
Previous Juno hosts have included Nelly Furtado, Pamela Anderson, Brent Butt and Shania Twain.
Peters will be joined on-stage by some of Canada’s top artists performing their latest hits including Avril Lavigne, Feist, Hedley, Finger Eleven and Anne Murray. Lavigne enters the night with five Juno nominations including Artist Of The Year and Album Of The Year — in a tie with indie star Feist and crooner Michael Bublé who garnered five nods each — just one nomination behind pop superstar Celine Dion whose latest albums Taking Chances and the French-language D’elles earned a total of six nominations.
But fans of Peters’ popular brand of ethno-centric humour can expect something different from their favourite stand-up, who promises to arrive in Calgary with a very different act.
“There won’t be any of my material that’s in my head because I’m doing stuff specifically for the Junos,” he says.
“At the end of the day as much as I realize I’m the host, I understand that it’s not my night. It’s about me getting people in the right frame of mind so they want to watch the show, then doing a good enough job so they want to continue to watch the show.”
The 2008 Juno Awards airs live on CTV at 8 p.m. E.T. Sunday.