Russell Peters: Red, White, and Brown
Directed by Jigar Talati
Studio: Comedy Central/Paramount
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 79 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0 stereo English
MSRP: $ 19.99
Release Date: January 27, 2009
Review Date: January 17, 2009
Talented comedian Russell Peters brought his eclectic world view of racial and cultural absurdity to New York’s Madison Square Garden on February 2, 2008, in a stand-up act that was recorded for broadcast on Showtime. Expanded on this disc by an additional twenty minutes that wasn’t originally aired and also offering some comic sets recorded on a second night along with some deleted material from the original recording, Red, White and Brown is a funny act that’s never condescending or smug with its audience. Peters proves himself a gifted, fresh, and funny comedian, self-deprecating at times and at other times pointing the finger at human foibles which may be ethnically focused but which allow us to laugh at behaviors common to us all.
A good portion of the disc’s 79-minute running time involves Peters’ dissection of the audience’s racial make-up, thus allowing him to riff on different cultural observations he’s made in his travels, and being of Indian descent himself (via Canada), he can throw his own ethnicity up for satire as well as that of others in his diverse audience. During the course of his set, he touches on such topics as arcade Dance Dance Machines, body hair and hair sculpturing, his dislike of soccer, and some observations on the hard of hearing. His misadventures in school especially with a transfer to a school for the mentally handicapped are particularly hilarious.
Peters has an uncanny ear for accents, and during his show, he displays them to quite an astonishing degree. He’s also got an ease before the audience which takes them into his confidence, never pushing for effects except in extremely rare cases when it most suits his purposes. Director Jigar Talati doesn’t do anything fancy with his cameras, all the better to listen to the comic’s set-ups and punch lines and watch his surprisingly limber body and his agility with the microphone make for some howlingly funny sight gags. The editing by Denny Chan is first-rate, so smooth, in fact, that you’d swear the show is seamless, that is, until you view the deleted scenes and see some sequences which were cut out of various places in the act.
Red, White, and Brown is adult in topic and tone (some of the funniest ad-libs involve a parent who's brought his preteen son to the show which Russell can‘t help but call attention to), but it’s a very fine comedy set with an easy-to-like comic working at the top of his game.
The act was filmed in high definition and framed at 1.78:1 and then down converted for this 480p presentation. Though the image is certainly sharp, clear, and clean, numerous digital artifacts have been introduced into the encode. Moiré, aliasing, and pixilation are fairly frequent visitors to the image though one soon learns to ignore them and concentrate on the comic business itself. The film is divided into 11 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track (which I used for most of my reviewing purposes) spreads the vocal track across the front three channels with occasional audience response placed in the rears. If one objects to that arrangement, the 2.0 stereo track puts Peters’ words in the center channel with the audience response in the left and right channels. Both recordings are cleanly presented with no distortion to mar the listening experience.
Comedian Russell Peters, his brother producer Clayton Peters, and director Jigar Talati contribute an audio commentary for the act. Russell is tired and tends to run down as the commentary proceeds, but all three men comment on the act and its terrific response on the evening in question.
“White Jacket Bootleg” features two sequences from the act during the second night of recording (none of which made it to the final film since he’s wearing a different outfit and there were empty seats clearly visible during the recording.) They can be played separately or together in one 11 ¾-minute group. An audio commentary is also available for selection with these two sequences.
“Support the Troops” offers two additional comedy sequences, one recorded the second night and the other the first night and both concerning stories about flying on a military plane to entertain the troops. They can also be viewed separately or in one 9 ¾-minute bunch. The second sequence also contains audio commentary which may be turned on or off.
There are four deleted sequences from the first night of recording which can be viewed separately or in one 5 ¾-minute grouping.
Also enclosed in the package is a bonus CD of the act.
Red, White, and Brown is a very funny stand-up comedy special with the gifted Russell Peters making some astute observations about our cultural differences and similarities. Recommended!