Russell Brand, Duchess Theatre, London
You know when Russell Brand is in town. Outside the Duchess Theatre in London’s Theatreland are trucks and trailers denoting that this is no ordinary event.
Inside, the venue resembles a rabbit warren at springtime, all narrow corridors and enthusiastic young things clambering over each other. The reason for the glitzy, steroidal set-up is that this is a live TV broadcast of his US chat show, Brand X, rather than a solo stand-up show. Nevertheless it represents an opportunity to see one of comedy’s biggest names in a 500-seat venue.
His guests tonight are Eddie Izzard, Noel Gallagher and David Icke, and this being a TV recording, it is a stop-start affair with any momentum halted in its tracks by ad breaks and the usual contrivances about clapping wildly on demand. What quickly becomes apparent is that, professional though Brand is, he is far more enjoyable without a script than with one. His easy manner with the audience and his guests brings out far funnier moments than, say, his opening mini-routine about how unedited the show will be, which involves dotting round the stage mucking about with props to no great effect.
The show itself is a loose, indulgent affair, which plays into Brand’s strengths as a performer who thrives on spontaneity and playfulness. As a host he is charming, albeit one who is too sharp (and egotistical) to let his guests speak uninterrupted for more than 10 seconds. I’m pretty sure David Frost never said to Richard Nixon: “I find it hard to concentrate when I’m not the one talking.”
The exception is David Icke, who is revered by Brand and given the floor to air his theories, before being economically slapped down by Noel Gallagher. Izzard’s interview is a slightly fraught affair as the two titanic comedians compete to out-funny each other. His studied whimsy isn’t well suited to this frantic format though, and having coasted into Brand’s waters, Brand devours him, comically speaking. He’s simply too quick, too powerful.
It may not be a conventional comedy show but it allows Brand to show that not only does he have natural funny bones, he can also command a room like few comics can.
Arts & Ents blogs
What a wonderful way to end this momentous series in the 50th year of Doctor Who. From the start of ...
Let's talk book blurbs, those quotes you get, usually from other writers, that are meant to entice y...
Fela Kuti, Jewish food and The Great Gatsby are just some of the reasons why the rainy weather ahead...
- 1 Heading for America? Prepare for the longest US immigration queues ever
- 2 Notes from a small island: Is Sealand an independent 'micronation' or an illegal fortress?
- 3 You thought Ryanair's attendants had it bad? Wait 'til you hear about their pilots
- 4 'Swivel-gate': David Cameron at war with press over 'swivel-eyed loons' slur
- 5 It’s official: thanks to Stephen Hawking's Israel boycott, anti-Semitism is no more
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.