A potty-mouthed prankster? That's why we love Russell Brand

Russell Brand has returned to stand-up. Fiona Sturges witnessed the comeback

It was with a strange lack of fanfare that, late last week, Russell Brand announced his first British performance in three years, to which my first reaction was – performing what exactly? It can be a struggle to remember what Russell Brand does for a living. He is, first and foremost, a comedian, but that was before MTV, Big Brother, a radio show, two autobiographies, sex addiction, drugs, rehab, that answer-phone message, Hollywood movies, a pop singer, weddings, select committees, divorce, the Dalai Lama, the Olympics and The Daily Mail all became woven into the Brand narrative.

But now Brand has returned to stand-up, or as he chillingly put it: "Selling my mental illness to you for money." Leaping on to the stage at Brighton's Theatre Royal to the sounds of Marc Bolan, a man on whom Brand has largely based his sartorial aesthetic, his first request was for us to "manage your expectations" since this was "freeform comedy", seemingly based on a single sheet of paper containing a list of themes – "meeting the Queen", "Olympics", "Prince Harry", "sexual things" and "David Icke". Perhaps the only rehearsed moment came with a party piece revolving around the replaying of a phone message left by Noel Gallagher immediately after the Olympic closing ceremony, in which the former Oasis star jeered at "old Mr Skinny legs, murdering the Beatles on top of a bus".

Those expecting a more serious and mature Brand in light of his divorce, his recent BBC documentary on drugs, and his delicious take-down of Peter Hitchens on Newsnight, were in for a shock. If Brand's split from Katy Perry has done anything, it's reawakened the predatory, lip-smacking, potty-mouthed sex monster within, prompting him to bound into the audience and have a closer look at what might be on offer, both male and female, for post-show shenanigans (his lingering in the lobby for autographs later on as the audience filed out suggested that at least one or two of these fantasies might have come to pass).

But it was his recollections of his extraordinary Olympic moment in which Brand really reached his stride, outlining, without the pause or punctuation, the manifold humiliations of being required to mime to a Beatles song and, specifically, the dilemma in which he found himself one minute prior to show time. There he was, his microphone switched on, David Icke's mad-eyed claims of "mass Satanic rituals" ringing in his head, and grappling with the desire to ditch Stephen Daldry's onerous direction and make out that the much-feared terrorist attack had finally come to pass via a psychedelic bus crammed full of Semtex. In the event, however, his nerve failed him, a situation exacerbated by the fact that his costume had split at the crotch and his left foot was wedged in the bus's hydraulic platform.

This is where Brand really excels – not tripping the red carpet with kitschy popstrels, or having his hair teased in massive trailers at Hollywood film studios, or trying to temper that ego of his in front of a living deity, but in turning a single, potentially calamitous event into a terrific piece of Socratic questioning, delivered with endearing hyperactivity, and spun into yards of comedy gold.

Last month, Brand launched a new TV show Brand X on the United States' FX Network, to largely negative reviews. Perhaps his adopted home doesn't appreciate the multi-layered, hyper-intelligent, undoubtedly rambling and haphazard but ultimately brilliant Brand stand-up style. Perhaps they simply don't want the self-styled "anarchic usurper tearing through convention with a cock of fire". Perhaps Los Angeles, where he hightailed it after the storm in a teacup that was "Sachsgate", wasn't ready for him after all. Perhaps it's time that Brand came home.

Arts & Entertainment
art

By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work

Arts & Entertainment
Leonardo DiCaprio will star in an adaptation of Michael Punke's thriller 'The Revenant'
film

Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar

Arts & Entertainment
Cody and Paul Walker pictured in 2003.
film

Arts & Entertainment
Down to earth: Fern Britton presents 'The Big Allotment Challenge'
TV

VIDEO
Arts & Entertainment
The London Mozart Players is the longest-running chamber orchestra in the UK
musicThreatened orchestra plays on, managed by its own members
Arts & Entertainment
Seeing red: James Dean with Sal Mineo in 'Rebel without a Cause'
film

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
TV
Arts & Entertainment
Heads up: Andy Scott's The Kelpies in Falkirk
art

What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?

Arts & Entertainment
artGraffiti legend posts picture of work – but no one knows where it is
Arts & Entertainment
A close-up of Tom of Finland's new Finnish stamp
art

Finnish Postal Service praises the 'self irony and humour' of the drawings

Arts & Entertainment
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in 2002's Die Another Day
film

The actor has confessed to his own insecurities

Life & Style
Green fingers: a plot in East London
TV

Allotments are the focus of a new reality show

Arts & Entertainment
Myleene Klass attends the Olivier awards 2014

Oliviers 2014Theatre stars arrive at Britain's most prestigious theatre awards
Arts & Entertainment
Stars of The Book of Mormon by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park

Oliviers 2014Blockbuster picked up Best Musical and Best Actor in a Musical
Arts & Entertainment
Lesley Manville with her Olivier for Best Actress for her role in 'Ghosts'

Oliviers 2014Actress thanked director Richard Eyre for a stunning production
Arts & Entertainment
Rory Kinnear in his Olivier-winning role as Iago in Othello

Oliviers 2014Actor beat Jude Law and Tom Hiddleston to take the award
Arts & Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch is best known for this roles in Sherlock and Star Trek
TV

Arts & Entertainment
theatreAll hail the temporary venue that has shaken things up at the National Theatre
Arts & Entertainment
musicShe is candid, comic and coming our way
Arts & Entertainment
booksHer new novel is about people seeking where they belong
Arts & Entertainment
TV
Arts & Entertainment
tvGrace Dent on The Crimson Field
Arts & Entertainment
Gian Sammarco plays Adrian Mole in 'The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole'
books

Sue Townsend's much-loved character will live on
Arts & Entertainment
Kylie has helped to boost viewing figures for the talent show
TV

Kylie Minogue quits The Voice UK

Arts & Entertainment
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Favour Asikpa and Thandie Newton in 'Half of a Yellow Sun'
film

Review: Half of A Yellow Sun

Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

    Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

    Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
    The pain of IVF

    The pain of IVF

    As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
    Supersize art

    Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

    The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
    James Dean: Back on the big screen

    James Dean: Back on the big screen

    As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act
    Catch-22: How the cult classic was adapted for the stage

    How a cult classic was adapted for the stage

    More than half a century after it was published 'Catch-22' will make its British stage debut next week
    10 best activity books for children

    10 best activity books for children

    Keep little ones busy this bank holiday with one of these creative, educational and fun books
    Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1: Five things we learnt from the battle between the London sides

    Five things we learnt from Arsenal's win over West Ham

    Arsenal still in driving seat for Champions League spot and Carroll can make late charge into England’s World Cup squad
    Copa del Rey final: Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right

    Pete Jenson on the Copa del Rey final

    Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right
    Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

    Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

    With the tennis circus now rolling on to the slowest surface, Paul Newman highlights who'll be making the headlines – and why
    Exclusive: NHS faces financial disaster in 2015 as politicians urged to find radical solution

    NHS faces financial disaster in 2015

    Politicians urged to find radical solution
    Ukraine crisis: How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?

    Ukraine crisis

    How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

    The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

    A history of the First World War in 100 moments
    Fires could turn Amazon rainforest into a desert as human activity and climate change threaten ‘lungs of the world’, says study

    New threat to the Amazon rainforest:

    Fires that scorch the ‘lungs of the Earth’
    Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City: And the winner of this season’s Premier League title will be...

    Who’s in box seat now? The winner of the title will be ...

    Who is in best shape to take the Premier League prize?