Russell Brand, Duchess Theatre, London
Friday 08 March 2013
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.
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 Mystery man who gave mum heart-warming note on train 'wanted to put a smile on her face'
- 3 Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
- 4 Mafia's wall of silence broken: Victim of Cosa Nostra's extortion rackets in its Corleone heartland co-operates with authorities for the first time ever
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent answer to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
Game of Thrones season 5: Grey Worm actor Jacob Anderson is all for more male nudity – as long as it’s not him
The Jump 2015 line-up: Joey Essex, Phil Tufnell, Heather Mills and co take to the slopes
New Ghostbusters movie lands all-female cast with Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones
Grumpy Roald Dahl letter warning student to 'eschew beastly adjectives' rediscovered after 35 years
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
Louise Mensch says 'F**K YOU' in explosive tweets about David Cameron, Saudi Embassy and the Queen over King Abdullah tributes