Russell Brand, Bloomsbury Theatre, London
No apology, and not all that many laughs either
Monday 19 January 2009
Love means never having to say you're sorry, and since Russell Brand is much in love, with himself, no apology was had when finally he strutted on stage for his first big appearance since the Andrew Sachs scandal.
It was an hour after the official start time when a montage of news clips about the affair heralded the appearance of the man who boasts of having carnal knowledge of Sachs's granddaughter.
He described the incident involving himself and the soon-to-be rehabilitated Jonathan Ross as "two idiots dancing towards a canyon". There are people out there who would use far harsher words about two highly paid performers leaving obscene messages on an elderly man's telephone but they were not in London's Bloomsbury Theatre. The theatre had taken the precaution of using a fan mail listing to fill the seats.
Brand pushed through this preview of the live show that he plans to take on tour in 80 minutes – all in one go – after support from "Russell's KY jelly" and the poet Mr G.
Resembling what the Greek god Pan might have looked like if he had been into Goth bands, the jaunty Brand soon removed a leather jerkin to reveal long johns-cum-skirt top, giving him more freedom to revel in his infamy. "I am the news!" he sang to the theme of News at Ten, leaping to celebrate topping the current affairs agenda, one he contends was deliberately manipulated to bury credit-crunch stories. Earlier, he admitted that "what to wear" was one of the most trying decisions he had to make in the face of the media encampment outside his Hampstead home. Being put on the sex offenders register or sent to Afghanistan, as some of the angry mob suggested at the time, were punishments that did not fit the crime.
While the scandal is not all that is on offer, it is the prime cut of the evening. Elsewhere, familiar material about giving money to homeless people being the equivalent of throwing money into a wishing well combines with tales based on the dislocation of communication. The puffed-up story of an argument with a Jamaican taxi driver in which Brand adopts an exaggerated Cockney accent seems more about showcasing his acting ability than his comedic prowess.
The other large set piece of the evening is Brand's stateside experience of hosting the MTV Video Music Awards last year, where he offended some viewers by telling the audience to vote for Barack Obama and called George Bush a "retarded cowboy fella". He gives his Bloomsbury audience the benefit of the links he ditched after the Bush remark flopped and reads out some of the death threats he received. This portion of his show feels somewhat lazy.
I worry that Brand's catchphrase from his last tour, "my life is essentially a string of embarrassing and shameful incidents punctuated only by telling people about the embarrassing and shameful incidents," says too much about the limitations of his stand up. His treatise on sex is all but reduced to giving sex tips, an approach as formulaic and as one dimensional as reading out death threats.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
- 2 A politically correct lefty goes to see Top Gear live – you'll probably believe what happened next
- 3 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 4 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
- 5 Snoop Dogg on why he doesn't regret displaying misogyny towards women
Art Garfunkel calls Paul Simon a 'monster' with a Napoleon complex
Eurovision 2015 winner: Sweden beats Russia and Italy to take the title from Conchita Wurst
Dheepan, film review: Palme d'Or prize goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Game of Thrones, The Gift, Season 5, Episode 7: Why two of the show’s most iconic characters just met
Eurovision 2015: Estonia seemingly enters Louis Tomlinson from One Direction
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland