First Night: Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross, Hackney Empire, London

Brand and Ross reunited for an inoffensive new chapter

Julian Hall
Friday 01 October 2010 00:00
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They were once "two idiots dancing toward a canyon" and tonight Russell Brand, who coined that phrase on his last live tour, and Jonathan Ross were reunited publicly for the first time since Sachsgate, the storm in a teacup that got so out of hand it had TV and radio executives rushing to hide the rest of the comedy china for fear it might get trampled on by anything that resembled the bullish or the offensive.

Before "Britain's greatest broadcaster" as Brand called Ross appeared, Brand read from the newest volume of his autobiography, My Booky Wook II: This Time It's Personal but not without a bit of embroidery. "Don't expect too much Bacchanalia it will be more like Alan Bennett" was Brand's warning.

The book is cursory on Sachsgate and so it proved was tonight's show. The first half's readings were dominated by email exchanges Brand had with his hero Morrissey, present tonight along with other celebrity guests including David Baddiel, whose music always plays in the intervals of Brand's gigs. He likens the correspondence to Bosie and Wilde but it's more Hinge and Bracket.

The charm of the first half wasn't matched by Jonathan Ross's Q&A with Brand. In part because Brand's responses seem to have notched back up to manic mode. This befit some of the spiritual platitude that came from Brand who maintained that both films and fame were "shit".

Already admitting that he misses stand up and wants to tour again, it's the live realm that is the solution to the fame and spirituality conundrum that Brand faces. He quotes playwright Howard Barker as saying "in the end there is nowhere left to go than where you are from".

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