Dubai’s hottest new venue shone bright under the strobe lights, all sparkly and clean, as the Coca-Cola Arena finally threw open its doors for its very first event over the weekend, a night with funny man Russell Peters.
The Canadian stand-up comedian, actor and part-time DJ (bet you didn’t know that) brought his ‘Deported World Tour’ to the UAE mere days after a string of successful shows in India that also saw Peters record his very own Amazon Prime special that should hit screens before the year ends.
Loud toilet humour is certainly an acquired taste, but Peters is a legend on the comedy circuit for his off-colour repartees. If you didn’t know what you were signing on for prior to walking into that 90-minute performance on June 6, the fault is entirely in your stars.
Poor Lancelot learned it the hard way, sitting in that front row to become Peters’ go-to crutch every time the set slipped into a lull. Yet, kudos to Lancelot — whose Indian ethnicity and bald countenance was exploited with glee by Peters — for enduring it all without that smile slipping once from his face.
Dressed in a pink suit and exuding a powering stage presence, Peters spared no one in his monologue. Yet, even as the front row braced the battalion of jokes, the 49-year-old comedian used the sharpened edges of his words to self-inflict on the most part.
Before the show, Peters had described this tour as his most personal yet and we can understand why. Of the 90-minute set, nearly half the show discussed the comedian’s health issues; from his dealings with an under-active thyroid to fat-shaming himself, nothing was off the table.
In retrospect, front-row participants Lancelot, Emirati couple Mohammad and Noora and Nils from Germany probably got off easy.
That said, not all the jokes landed with finesse. A throwaway line on American auto insurance company Geico was lost in translation, while the Palestine reference was simply distasteful. But, if you put those hiccups aside, it was not a night about making a political statement or pushing the envelope as far-right as it could fly. Peters came on stage to elicit a barrel of laughs and that he most certainly achieved, with a little help of his opening act Jason Collings.
In terms of acoustics, the night’s proceedings were slightly dampened by the echo resonating in the stadium, with the sound cutting out for split-second intervals. Yet, for Dubai to have such a purpose-built venue is definitely the call of the hour.
For the 10,000 plus crowd that ventured into the Coco-Cola Arena that night, the cooling climes were definitely a welcome relief.