Sugar Sammy pushes the envelope when it comes to his standup comedy. Tackling topics such as race, relationships and multiculturalism, this local star knows how to play his racial cards right, especially when it comes to poking fun at his Quebecois audience.
Born in Montreal to Indian parents, Samir Khullar is as sweet as his stage name suggests.
He was discovered at the Just for Laughs International Comedy Festival, where he was the first ever comedian to perform in three languages: English, French and Hindi. Since then he has performed worldwide.
Sugar Sammy stopped by Montreal earlier last week on a promotional tour for his DVD, “Sugar Sammy Live in Concert Direct from Montreal.” He spoke to the Concordian the next day from Toronto.
The Concordian: How has the feedback from your fans been while you were in Montreal?
Sugar Sammy: I wanted to let my fans know that my DVD was out and to come pick it up. When I was at HMV Megastore downtown Tuesday, hundreds of people showed up, it was fun. I thought I would get a few people here and there. I didn’t think I would be spending hours there. There was a crazy lineup. It was a pleasure. HMV told us we beat out The Social Network in terms of first day sales. It was cool and I’m excited that most people are hungry for more of my work.
Askmen.com dubbed you comedy’s New Rockstar and the Hollywood Reporter named you one of the “top 10 rising comedy talents from around the world.” What do you think about these titles?
I do what I do. People write what they write, but I have a very simple life. I don’t walk around like a rockstar.
You are not lying, are you? In a lot of your interviews you mention that you still live with your parents. Is that true?
When I come back to Montreal, which is not often, I stay with my parents. It doesn’t make sense to stay at a hotel or buy a house and leave it empty. But, I think I will be settling down soon and will take a break to buy a house, probably in Montreal and maybe L.A, wherever my work takes me.
Montreal is my home, I don’t want to lose that. It’s a big part of who I am and a big part of my success. Being from Montreal and having that kind of energy and that kind of vibe, it is very unique for people to see that on an international level.
How do you think growing up here has helped your comedy?
It’s definitely given me a different perspective. I am influenced a lot by the U.S. because it’s our neighbour and we have a lot of their TV shows and movies that we consume. But at the same time I have a great Canadian perspective. Growing up in Quebec, I have that background. It’s a very, very unique perspective that I don’t think many people have in terms of artists out there.
Let us go back to the beginning for second. What led you to comedy in the first place?
I knew as a kid I wanted to do it. When I watched Eddie Murphy’s first standup gig at eight or nine years old I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Where was your first performance and how did it go?
I first performed at Marianopolis College in Montreal at 19. I had never performed in front of a crowd by myself, it was definitely an experience. It was nerve-wracking but fun.
You are young so you take more risks, I had no filter. It was intimidating, being in front of 400 or so people. My standup was all over the place then too, it had no structure to it as it does now.
You say you used to have no filter. How did your first audiences respond to your risky humour?
It was great, the first two [performances] that I did I got a standing ovation. So that is when I knew, that is what got me hooked. I said, now I know that this is what I should be doing.
Have you ever gone too far with one of your jokes?
At the Juste pour Rire festival I made a lot of Quebecois jokes. They were uncomfortable for the time that I was really ripping into them, and then I brought it back with a joke that worked itself out. I mess around with my audiences, and they are very forgiving.
The Golden Globes have just passed and host Ricky Gervais was pretty ruthless. Is award show hosting something you would ever do?
I would love to do that and I am starting to get asked. A lot of journalists are writing that we should give Sugar Sammy a hosting gig for one of the Quebec galas. It is cool to hear. If it is the right timing and opportunity and I would have enough time to prepare I would do it for sure.
According to Sugar Sammy, Montrealers can expect a show this summer. He is also preparing a French show that will premiere in 2012.
For more on Sugar Sammy, visit his official website: www.sugarsammy.com. Sign up there to receive priority for tickets for upcoming Montreal shows.