Russell Peters on 'optics' of Abu Dhabi show 'while so many are suffering in Gaza'

Canadian comedian has cancelled his Middle East tour but will go ahead with UAE date to film a new special

Russell Peters hopes to provide 'some smiles, love and laughter' amid grim times, when he performs in Abu Dhabi. Antonie Robertson / The National
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Russell Peters’ Abu Dhabi show is going ahead at Etihad Arena on November 23, despite the comic's decision to cancel the remaining dates of his tour of the Middle East and South Africa.

In an Instagram video, where he sported a keffiyeh, the Canadian comedian spoke of “the optics” of bringing his show to the region “while so many are suffering in Gaza”.

However, he confirmed that the Etihad Arena show will go ahead and will be filmed for a coming special Act Your Age.

“I will still be in Abu Dhabi on November 23 at Etihad Arena shooting my new special,” he said. “And I'm aware of the optics on this one and I pulled the rest of my Middle Eastern tour for now.

“Let me be honest with you, I have struggled with this as well … but ultimately I feel like the one thing we need in that region is some smiles, love and laughter and I hope to be that guy to provide some of that relief for you.”

A regular performer in the UAE, Peters's last show at the Etihad Arena was in 2021.

The award-winning comedian also had the honour of being the first act to perform at Dubai's Coca-Cola Arena, as he brought his Deported World Tour to the indoor venue at City Walk in 2019.

Peters is known for his close-to-the-bone, observational style of comedy that centres on highlighting racial stereotypes and challenging political correctness.

In an interview with The National, Peters put his popularity in the Middle East down to the region's cosmopolitanism.

“As a comic, the best audience you can really play to is one that has a good mix, and I always find that when I come to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other cities in the area,” he said.

“That’s because you can make the jokes broader and the crowd will have more points of reference.”

Russell Peters at Etihad Arena, Abu Dhabi. November 23; doors open at 6.30pm; tickets from Dh220;

Updated: November 13, 2023, 11:43 AM