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A Quebec Comedian Is Happy to Offend in Multiple Languages

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His decision to become a comedian was clinched when he first saw Eddie Murphy’s 1983 stand-up comedy television special “Delirious” as a teenager and was attracted by his raw, unbridled humor. “Here you had this guy in bright red leather owning the stage with the charisma of a rock star,” he said. “I wanted to be that guy.”

Eager to find an original stage name, he settled on the nickname his female friends had given him when he was a party promoter while studying at McGill University: Sugar Sammy.

His political awakening as a comic came in 1995 during a referendum that asked Quebecers whether the province should become an independent country. After the “no” camp won with a bare 50.6 percent of the vote, Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau, a leader on the “yes” side, blamed the result on, among other things, “the ethnic vote.

The comments stung Mr. Khullar, who was 19. “Here I was a teenager who was doing everything to be part of Quebec society and I was being told that I was responsible for the failure of Quebec’s dream of statehood,” he recalled. “I realized that I would always be the ‘other’ in Quebec, no matter what language I spoke.”

Instead of stewing, he used his sense of alienation as fuel for his comedy.

One of his first big breaks came in 2004 when his show attracted attention at the Montreal-based “Just for Laughs” festival, the largest international comedy festival in the world. He became co-creator in 2014 of a successful French television sitcom called “Ces gars-là,” (“Those Guys”) in the spirit Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and began crisscrossing the globe.

An ardent federalist who believes Quebec should remain a part of Canada, he takes mischievous pleasure in skewering those who he calls “separatists,” many of whom prefer to be identified as “sovereigntists.”

“I like picking on separatists because it’s fun!” he said in a performance of “You’re Gonna Rire.”

He brought up the referendum at a recent sold-out performance here. “There are two kinds of Quebecers,” he mused. “There are Quebecers who are educated, cultivated, well-brought up. Then you have those who voted ‘yes.’”


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