The man of a thousand accents returns home to helm two Just For Laughs gigs at Massey Hall tonight.
You’re picking up hosting duties this evening. Does that mean you’re going to have to be a little more subdued than usual?
No, not at all — I’m really looking forward to hosting. Since it’s not my show, I can relax and have a good time.
Any chance you’ll still toss in a few zingers?
Hell yeah! I always love freestyling when I’m on stage. I say things spontaneously. But the problem is I don’t always remember what it was that I said when I get offstage.
You’re back in Toronto. How does it feel to play for a hometown crowd again?
It always feels good to be home. That’s one of the reasons I said yes to this gig. I won’t be doing a Canadian tour next year so I’m happy to have the opportunity to perform here.
Jokes about ethnicity. Do you think you’ll ever run out of material?
Well, there are days when it feels that way. I’ve been coming out with a new act every 18 to 24 months and it’s not easy, which is why I’m taking a breather next year.
Has anyone ever threatened you after a show because they thought every ethnic joke was hysterical until you got to their own?
They haven’t threatened me, but I have had one or two people react that way; it was OK to laugh at everyone else, but they had no sense of humour about themselves. Most of the time I’ll get people coming up to me saying, “Hey, why didn’t you do any Latvian jokes?” or some other country that you wouldn’t normally think of off the top of your head.
How’s the community reaction when you go home to Brampton: Do they treat you any differently, or are you still the same Russell?
It’s pretty cool when I go back to B-town: Everyone’s really supportive. I’m still the same Russell, just way busier than I was a few years ago.
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