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RIYADH: Canadian comedian Russell Peters performed at AlUla’s Al-Maraya Theater on Friday, days before his wedding in Los Angeles.
“I’m just happy to be back, I’m literally very happy to be back. Here’s how you know I’m happy to be back: I’m getting married on Sunday and I’ll be here Friday,” he said. he told Arab News.
The comedian expressed his excitement about being back in the Kingdom, even though it was just before his wedding halfway around the world.
“Even three days before my wedding, I still came to Saudi Arabia. I really missed Saudi Arabia, I had such a good time when I came before.
He left the Friday crowd in tears of laughter during his “Act Your Age” world tour performance. The show is about getting older and experiences with the new world and new generations.
“I will be 52 this year, so to call myself middle-aged would mean I live to be 104, and I certainly don’t want to live to be 104. new world we live in.
He talked about his previous performance in the Kingdom, six years ago in Riyadh.
“I came here in January 2016 and we did a show in the middle of the desert near Riyadh. It was quite amazing. And, at that time, women weren’t allowed to drive, and I came back six years later, and boom, you’re driving. I was sad that I hadn’t been there for so long, so when they asked me if I wanted to come back, I immediately said yes.
He said he was looking forward to returning to the region, especially the Kingdom, due to its large fan base. He has also performed in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan.
“Some of my strongest supporters come from the Middle East; they are always there for me, so I will always be there for them.
He explained that on this trip he would unfortunately not have the chance to visit the capital to see the changes that had happened in the city as his performance was in AlUla.
“I didn’t go to Riyadh on this trip, but the cool thing is that I’m discovering parts of the country I didn’t know existed. It’s a pretty amazing place to be right now. We stay at this beautiful resort and are surrounded by these amazing mountains and rock structures.”
Al-Maraya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is covered with 9,740 mirrored panels that reflect the historical and natural landscapes of AlUla.
“I can literally sit there and just watch it because it’s like looking back in time,” he remarked.
He said he likes to make his shows personal and individual to the country he’s going to so his set doesn’t look like a rote comedy video people watch online.
“You want it to feel special as a comedian who’s been doing it for 33 years. That’s just what I do, I like to add some local references here and there.
Peters, who was recently named one of Rolling Stone’s 50 Greatest Comedians, opened up about his mental preparation before each show to connect with the crowd.
“When I leave America, I have to understand that I have to look at the rest of the world with the same eyes as the people I play in front of. I realized I made that mistake a few months ago when I was returned to the area for the first time.
And his references and personal anecdotes cannot be the same for each country. “I did wrong,” he added. “When I have jokes about (DNA genetic testing company) 23andMe and Ancestry.com, those make a lot of sense in America. Here, everyone knows what it is.
He said if he asked the public if he had ever used Ancestry.com, he would ask why, because his family had never left the country and had no reason to use the website.
The comedian said he wanted to connect with the audience and make personal connections so people could enjoy the show even more.
He had time to visit the Al-Jadidah arts district of the old town of AlUla to explore its galleries and sculpture installations.
When asked if Saudi Arabia could expect any future appearances from him, he responded enthusiastically.
“I really want to go back to Riyadh, and I’ve never been to Jeddah, so I would like to go there too. I have the chance to perform in AlUla now, so we’ll knock that out of the park and then come back and dive in Riyadh and Jeddah.
Her performance was part of the AlUla Art Festival, which kicked off on February 13 and will run until March 31.