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Comedy smackdown in Anchorage: George Lopez vs. Russell Peters

Vikram Patel

 

George Lopez and Russell Peters have a lot in common. Both men are world-famous stand-up comedians. On stage, they both use their experiences as part of racial minorities -- Lopez is Mexican-American and Peters is half-Indian, half-Caucasian and 100-percent Canadian -- to comment on and poke fun at cultural groups. Next week, both comedians are performing in Anchorage. Last week, neither of them wanted to be interviewed by Play.

But there is something that they don't have in common: the title of Play's Comedy Challenge Champion for Comedians Performing in Anchorage in April.

There's a saying among entertainment journalists: if the performer won't grant an interview, don't worry -- the Internet will. Play took an exhaustive look at what the web had to offer on each man, and many differences made themselves apparent. Let the games begin!

Success (5 points)

Russell Peters is a wildly successful comedian. But, by his own admission, his big break came in 2004, when a recording of his performance on Canadian television comedy show "Comedy Now!" went viral on YouTube.

George Lopez was successful long before YouTube existed. His first movie? "Ski Patrol" in 1990. Lopez didn't hit it big until "The George Lopez Show," which kicked off in 2002, only two years before Peters' YouTube moment. But Lopez still gets the nod for being there first.

Winner: Lopez

Score: Lopez 5, Peters 0

Best joke or tag line (5 points)

Peters's most famous routine consists of a set of jokes that each end with the same imitation of his Indian-accented father declaring "somebody gonna-get-a-hurt real bad." Audiences erupt into laughter each time he utters this punch line, over and over again. Peters explains in his act why this was such a scary -- and later hilarious -- threat for him: "My Dad always says 'somebody,' but you know who's gonna get hurt. It's you."

Lopez, a talented joke-teller, does not have a go-to joke of this consistency or magnitude. But he does have "Low Rider," the theme song to "The George Lopez Show," which plays at the beginning of some of his acts. But that, unfortunately, is not this category. Sorry, George.

Winner:Peters

Score: Tied, 5-5

Money (3 points)

This is a tough category. George Lopez's longevity gives him a huge head start. Forbes Magazine reports he earned $12 million in 2013. That figure ranks Lopez as the eighth-highest-earning comedian in the world in 2013.

But Peters is raking it in at an astronomical rate. Forbes has him as the third-highest-earning comedian in 2013, coming in at $21 million. And there is no reason to think that he won't keep this up.

An attempt to compare the net worth of each comedian proved only that the Internet is full of information, most of it highly questionable.

Winner: Peters

Score:Peters 8, Lopez 5

Hair (1 point)

Lopez is nine years older than Peters, but somehow has a lot more hair.

Winner:Lopez

Score: Tied, 8-8

Accolades and awards (3 points )

Lopez was called one of the 25 most influential Hispanics in America by Time Magazine in 2005. And he's got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Peters has hosted many awards shows, but hasn't won anything that compares to Lopez's accolades.

Winner:Lopez

Score: Lopez 11, Peters 8

Height (1 point)

Lopez is 5'10" and Peters is 5'11."

Winner:Peters, by a nose

Score:Lopez 11, Peters 9

Extracurriculars (3 points)

George Lopez does a lot besides performing his standup routine: books, television, movies. He had his own self-styled TV show, "The George Lopez Show." Lopez used to be on "Inside the NFL" and on "Reno 911!" Recently, he hosted "Lopez Tonight," a nightly talk show on TBS. He has a sitcom in development with FX. And the list goes on.

Russell Peters used to be an accomplished break-dancer and a DJ. Today? Not so much. He's just telling jokes and making money.

Lopez's head start gives him the nod here.

Winner:Lopez

Score:Lopez 14, Peters 9

Best message (5 points)

Lopez: "I've always felt excluded from pie charts and America. If you go to Salinas [California] and look in the fields and at how we get food to the table, those people are very important and they're not in a position to speak for themselves. That's really hard work. I come from that; my father was a migrant farmworker. I think it's important to acknowledge their work. If [Mexicans] were to go away, you'd put people in there who were Americans with health and dental, and a head of lettuce would cost $125. You'd get a salad and it would be like, 'That'll be $775.' Historically we've never really done anybody justice [in this country] and yet we're asked to live together and kind of forget what happened." (Carmel Magazine, Winter 2007)

Peters: Though he may have a hidden message, Peters spends most of his time making fun of various minority groups -- his own included -- instead of championing a cause.

Sorry, Russell.

Winner:Lopez

Final Score: Lopez 19, Peters 9

The winner of Play's Comedy Challenge is clear: Congratulations, George Lopez.

But, when asked which comedian he'd rather switch lives with, Anchorage Everyman noted, "Lopez can have the title and the hair; I'll take the $21 million."

Editor's Note: The original version of this story had Lopez and Peters performing Dec. 5. Their show has been moved until April 2014.  

 


By Vikram Patel
Daily News correspondent