Peters was born in Toronto, Ontario to Eric and Maureen Peters. When he was four, the family moved to nearby Brampton. His older brother Clayton now serves as Peters' manager. Peters is Catholic and of Anglo-Indian descent. His late father was born in Bombay (now Mumbai), India and worked as a federal meat inspector; Peters regularly features stories about him in his comedy work.
Peters attended Chinguacousy Secondary School for grades 9–10, and North Peel Secondary School in Bramalea for grades 11–12. In school, he was regularly bullied because of his ethnicity. He eventually learned boxing, which helped him resist the bullying.
Peters began performing in Toronto in 1989. He has since gone on to perform in several countries worldwide.
In 1992, Peters met comedian George Carlin, one of his biggest influences, who advised him to get on stage whenever and wherever possible. Peters said he "took that advice to heart, and I think that's the reason I am where I am now." In 2007, 15 years later, he hosted one of Carlin's last shows before Carlin's death the following year.
Peters attributes his 2004 performance on the Canadian TV comedy show Comedy Now!, which was uploaded onto YouTube and became viral, as the turning point in his career. While the initial video upload featured his entire 45-minute performance, YouTube users subsequently uploaded segments of the performance where Peters focused on individual cultural groups. According to Peters, those segments made their way to the "targeted" cultural groups and were well received by them. The video and its viral nature was referenced by Peters on the DVD performance of his show Outsourced, when he entered and jokingly addressed the audience with "Look at you, you filthy downloaders!"
In 2007, Peters was the first comedian to sell out Toronto's Air Canada Centre, selling more than 16,000 tickets in two days for the single show. He ended up selling over 30,000 tickets nationally over the two-day sales period. He broke a UK comedy sales record at London's O2 Arena when he sold over 16,000 tickets to his show in 2009. His show in Sydney, Australia on 15 May 2010 had an audience of 13,880, making it the largest stand-up comedy show in Australian history. Peters' performances on May 5–6, 2012 in Singapore also set attendance records for a single stand-up comedian at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Peters hosted the Canada Day Comedy Festival 2006, and participated in a USO tour of Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, Africa and Greenland in November 2007 with Wilmer Valderrama and Mayra Veronica. He also currently produces and stars on the radio situation comedy series Monsoon House on CBC Radio One.
Peters was the host of the televised 2008 Juno Awards ceremonies in Calgary on April 6, 2008, for which he won a Gemini Award for "Best Performance or Host in a Variety Program or Series". The show received the second-highest ratings of any Juno Awards broadcast. Following the show's success, Peters accepted an invitation to host the Juno Awards for a second consecutive year; the 2009 Juno Awards took place in Vancouver on March 29, 2009.
On September 28, 2013, Peters was awarded the 2013 Trailblazer award by the Association of South Asians in Media, Marketing and Entertainment (SAMMA) for his contributions to the world of comedy. He is among the first South Asians to achieve international success in the field.
DVDs and book
Peters' debut comedy album Outsourced is from his performance aired on Comedy Central on August 26, 2006. The DVD version is uncensored. The DVD has been popular, especially in Canada, selling over 100,000 copies. Outsourced remained on the National DVD Chart over one and a half years after its release. Peters released a second DVD/CD combo, Red, White and Brown, in Canada on September 30, 2008, and in the U.S. on January 27, 2009. It was recorded on February 2, 2008, at the WAMU Theatre in Madison Square Garden. Peters and his brother Clayton self-produced and financed Red, White and Brown. In May 2011, Peters released The Green Card Tour: Live from the O2 Arena, a live performance recorded in front of a total audience of 30,000, over two nights at O2 Arena in London, England. The show was directed by Dave Higby, who produced Outsourced.
On October 26, 2010, Peters published his autobiography, Call Me Russell, co-written with his brother Clayton and Dannis Koromilas.
According to Forbes, Peters earned an estimated $15 million between June 2009 and June 2010, continuing his run as one of the highest-paid comedians, after earning an estimated $5 million the prior year. Forbes ranked him as the third-highest-paid comedian.
Peters' stand-up performances feature observational comedy, using humour to highlight racial, ethnic, class and cultural stereotypes. He often refers to his own experiences growing up in an Indian family, and impersonates the accents of various ethnic groups to poke fun at them. As he told an audience in San Francisco, "I don't make the stereotypes, I just see them." In a 2006 interview with The National, Peters observed that he didn't intend to put down or offend different races and cultures, but tried to "raise them up through humour".
Peters is widely known for his punchline, "Somebody gonna get a hurt real bad." It ends a joke he tells about his childhood with a traditional Indian father, who used corporal punishment on his sons. Another punchline he utilizes is "Be a man! Do the right thing!", which relates to a story of a Chinese man trying to get him to pay more for an item at a shop.
When interviewer Larry King asked Peters, "Is there such a thing as too taboo?", Peters replied, "I don't talk about religion because I think people are a little weird about religion, especially nowadays, and I'm more of a science guy than I am a beliefs guy. I'm more into facts than I am beliefs."  In an interview with Al Jazeera, Peters said he "refuses" to talk about religion.
On Episode 115 of the Comedian's Comedian podcast, British comedian Gina Yashere accused Peters of consistently and admittedly stealing her material over a period of several years, including on many of his televised specials.
He proposed to girlfriend Monica Diaz on July 10, 2010 at the Los Angeles International Airport and announced their engagement via Twitter. The couple married on August 20, 2010 at A Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, Nevada. The wedding was attended by about 20 guests, including an Elvis impersonator. Soon after, Peters told The Canadian Press that Diaz was pregnant, saying, "Did I get married because she was knocked up? I would say that expedited it." Their daughter Crystianna Marie Peters was born two months early on December 14, 2010. In a March 2012 interview, Peters revealed that he and Diaz were divorcing.
In 2010 Peters established the Russell Peters North Peel Scholarship, an award worth up to $20,000 and intended to finance up to three years of college. It will be awarded annually to a student from Judith Nyman Secondary School (formerly North Peel) with a strong academic record and the intention of attending college.
- Outsourced (2006)
- Red, White and Brown (2008)
- The Green Card Tour: Live from the O2 Arena (2011)
- Notorious (2013) (Netflix)
Film and television
Peters has appeared in many films. He acted in the Punjabi-Canadian Breakaway (2011), alongside Camilla Belle, Anupam Kher, and Vinay Virmani. That year he also acted in Duncan Jones's Source Code (2011) as Max, an amateur comedian with a bad attitude; and as Pervius in National Lampoon's 301: The Legend of Awesomest Maximus (2011).
He appeared in Senior Skip Day (2008), which starred Larry Miller, Tara Reid, and Gary Lundy. That year he was also in The Take (2008) as Dr. Sharma. Earlier he had cameo roles in Boozecan (1994) as Snake's Friend, Tiger Claws III (2000) as Detective Elliott, My Baby's Daddy (2004) as the obstetrician, and Quarter Life Crisis (2006) as Dilip Kumar.
Peters has guest-starred on the TV series Mr. D as the school superintendent. In 2011 he starred in a Canadian TV Christmas special, A Russell Peters Christmas. Guests included Michael Bublé, Pamela Anderson and Jon Lovitz. The show attracted the highest number of viewers of any CTV Canadian holiday special.
- Boozecan – Snake's Friend (1994)
- Tiger Claws III – Det. Elliot (2000)
- My Baby's Daddy – Obstetrician (2004)
- Quarter Life Crisis – Dilip Kumar (2006)
- Let's All Hate Toronto – Himself (2007)
- Heckler – Himself (2007)
- The Take – Dr. Sharma (2008)
- Senior Skip Day – Uncle Todd (2008)
- The Con Artist – Pogue (2010)
- Bobby Khan's Ticket to Hollywood – Jack the Store Manager (2011)
- Source Code – Max Denoff (2011)
- National Lampoon's 301: The Legend of Awesomest Maximus – Pervius (2011)
- Breakaway aka Speedy Singhs – Sonu (2011)
- New Year's Eve – Chef Sunil (2011)
- Girl in Progress – Emile (2012)
- The History of Canadian Humour – Himself (2012)
- Chef – Miami Cop (2014)
- Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever - Santa (2014)
- Comedy Now! ("Show Me the Funny") (1997)
- The Jack Docherty Show (28 January 1999)
- The 4th Annual Canadian Comedy Awards (2003)
- Lord Have Mercy! (2003)
- Comedy Now! (2004)
- The 5th Annual Canadian Comedy Awards (2004: Nominee for Male Stand-up)
- Royal Canadian Air Farce (7 January 2005)
- Just for Laughs (11 September 2005)
- CBC Winnipeg Comedy Festival (15 April 2006: Host)
- Comics Unleashed (Episode #1.6) (2006)
- Video on Trial (Episode #3.3) (2007)
- Pulse: The Desi Beat (Episode #1.9) (2007)
- Just for Laughs (Best of 2007: The 25th Edition) (2008)
- 2008 Juno Awards (2008: Host)
- Def Comedy Jam (Episode #8.4) (2008)
- The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (Episode #16.33) (2008)
- Comics Without Borders (2008: Host)
- The Hour (18 September 2008)
- The 9th Annual Canadian Comedy Awards (2008: Winner for Best Large Venue Stand-up)
- The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Episode #5.96) (2009)
- 2009 Juno Awards (2009: Host)
- Russell Peters Presents (2009:
- The 10th Annual Canadian Comedy Awards (2009)
- Cedric the Entertainer's Urban Circus (2010)
- The Hour (Episode #7.26) (2010)
- The Dating Guy (28 November 2010)
- 42nd NAACP Image Awards (2011)
- Lopez Tonight (26 May and 11 August 2011)
- A Day in the Life (24 August 2011)
- The Green Room with Paul Provenza (Episode #2.7 & #2.8) (2011)
- George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight (Episode #8.9 & #8.23) (2011)
- 26th Annual Gemini Awards (2011)
- The Marilyn Denis Show (Episode #1.99 & #2.51) (2011)
- 8 out of 10 Cats (Episode #12.9) (2011)
- A Russell Peters Christmas (2011: Host)
- George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight (Episode #8.102) (2012)
- Bob's Burgers (Episode #2.7: "Moody Foodie") (2012)
- The Burn with Jeff Ross (Episode #1.2) (2012)
- Mr. D (Episode #2.1) (2013)
- Last Comic Standing (2014)
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- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLhe6sDcMj4 (22:10)
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKXxiccJx9c (3:30)
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Russell Peters.|
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