India to get taste of Sugar Sammy

Posted by: Adhika | Posted on: March 13th, 2013 | No Comments

India to get taste of Sugar Sammy

Comedian pauses his Quebec domination for an overseas visit

India to get taste of Sugar Sammy

Sugar Sammy will perform in Bangalore, New Delhi and Mumbai in mid-March for U.S. cable TV channel Comedy Central.

Photograph by: John Kenney, Gazette Files, The Gazette

They’re gonna hassi, as they say over there.

Sugar Sammy will do three stand-up shows in India – the land of his parents – in mid-March for Comedy Central, the U.S. cable TV channel will announce Thursday.

The wildly successful Montreal comedian will perform in Bangalore on March 15, New Delhi on the 16th and Mumbai on the 17th.

It’s Comedy Central’s first foray into the nation of 1.2 billion people.

Tickets went on sale Wednesday in India, via www.bookmyshow.com. The shows will be in Hindi and also in Punjabi, Sammy’s first language.

After the trip, the comic will return to Montreal’s Olympia Theatre from March 27 to 30 to give shows in four languages: Hindi, Punjabi, French and English. He also performs, in French, at the Olympia on Thursday, Saturday and April 10 to 12, and in French and English from April 24 to 27.

Sammy performed in India in 2009 – once in Mumbai and once in New Delhi – but to much smaller audiences. This time, he’ll be packing them in at about 1,000 people a night. And judging by his popularity on social networks in India, he expects there will be more shows added.

“It’s a great market,” said Sammy, who was born Samir Khullar in Montreal 37 years ago (on Feb. 29, 1976) and was raised in Côte-des-Neiges.

“Here in Quebec, we’ve got six million and I’m doing pretty well,” said Sammy. “But I’m pretty excited about the prospect of having a billion people out there in India.”

He’ll be a cultural ambassador of sorts for Quebec, too.

“I’ll talk to them about the Quebec referendum, about our elections and about our problems over here – and I’ll tell them about red squares,” he said, alluding to the student protests.

“Let’s see how that goes over.” Sugar Sammy has done more than 1,000 shows in 30 countries, selling more than 120,000 tickets in the past year alone. His latest tour ranked 30th in gross sales in North America over the past three months.

He’s a regular at Montreal and Toronto’s Just for Laughs festivals, and packed the Olympia 45 times (selling 53,000 tickets) with his bilingual show You’re Gonna Rire.

Now it’s back to his roots.

“India may never be the same,” his promoters trumpeted in a news release as tickets went on sale, “after Sugar Sammy brings his comedy and his views on his Indian roots, world travels, arranged marriages, pop culture and modern-day relationships to the homeland.”

The idea came last August, when Comedy Central India aired Sammy’s TV special Live in Montreal, shot at Place des Arts in 2009.

“No one could have predicted the tidal wave of viewer response that airing unleashed,” recalled Ferzad Palia, general manager of Indian cable network Viacom18 Media.

“When we aired Live in Montreal in India, fans reacted by the thousands on social media, demanding to see him live in India,” Palia said in the communiqué.

“And we realized that it was a great idea and a perfect fit.”

He added: “We hope to see more of his brand of comedy here in India – global, international and yet extremely relevant to our viewers.”

Will Sammy get too big for his Indo-Canadian boots?

Not at all, the comedian replied. “The Quebec tour is going to at least the end of 2015 – it’s just crazy. And there’s a Canadian tour coming in 2014, coast to coast.

“Then, hopefully, France – I’d love to do that. And the Middle East – that’s another market that I really want to do and where I have a strong connection.”

The fact that his India trip is being announced the day he celebrates his birthday – well, that’s just dandy.

“What a great gift, to go to India,” he said.

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