I don’t want to use the clichéd expression “the rock star of comedy” in this article so instead I’ll impart the message that Russell Brand is “the rock star of comedy” by disguising it as a criticism of that cliché.
With the release of his infamous and candid autobiography along with appearances in films such as Get Him To The Greek and Arthur – not to mention marrying and divorcing pop singer/critic of juxtaposition Katy Perry – Brand has established himself as a genuine pop culture icon and arena-selling comedian. His stand-up, heavily influenced by the likes of Noel Fielding and Paul Foot, is largely rooted in one of the primary separators of professional comedians from amateurs – identity. Out of every comedian I’ve seen, Brand has the most established identity, and his real life identity – the hyper-sexuality, the (past?) drug addiction, celebrity status etc. – directly reflects onto his stage performance.
Thus, you already know what to expect from Brand’s stand-up before you walk in. There’s a lotta humping the air (not enough! am I right ladies!), anecdotes from his celebrity life (finding out moments before his performance at the Olympics that his pants were ripped at the crotch) and commentary about random shit like the news and writer/ex-footballer David Icke who believes the Queen is actually a giant lizard (no shit Icke).
One of the more surprising elements of Brand’s schtick is his skill of the English language, drawing much humour with his creative vocabulary (such as describing going down on a girl as entering “Narnia”). Brand is proficient at utilising clever literary metaphors, and his silver-tongue adds that extra quirk to the material.
Probably the highlight of the night came in the form of a drunken audience member. After asking for the house lights to be turned on, soon after the start of the show, Brand sauntered down the aisles on the ground level, provoking audience participation. Minutes in, a smiling buzzed-out dude in the crowd (drinking wine out of a label-less Coke bottle) got into some cheeky banter with Brand. As their exchange grew more heated, Brand’s security stepped in and pushed the man into a sin-bin area near the soundboard. Therafter, the heckler approached Brand again – and out of completely fucking nowhere – dropped his pants and underwear to the shock and applause of a sold-out Rod Laver Arena. Security quickly escorted him out, and Brand was subsequently provided with a few extra minutes of material.