Russell Brand: Messiah Complex: O2 Guildhall, Southampton – Live Comedy Review
Live Comedy Review
Following his Newsnight interview with Paxman, one of the UK’s most talked about comedians – Russell Brand – is touring his new one man stage show Messiah Complex. Ged Babey pays £32 to see the anti-capitalist revolutionary in action.
Russell Brand admits that he could be accused of having a Messiah Complex. He confesses to being a lot of things and parades his flaws and ego-mania in a rampant confessional whilst trying to inspire us into a non-violent revolution by using Ghandi, Che Guevara, Malcolm X and Jesus as exemplifiers of imperfect idealism… and proves that he is a little bit like each of them.
Or is he becoming the Bono of Comedy…having graduated from being Rentaghost’s Mr Claypole with some good knob gags?
The same cynics who say that pop and politics don’t mix will no doubt think the same about comedians and politics. Russell Brand really does seem to mean what he says though and was inspirational during his sparring with Paxman. When he writes in the Guardian, like here, he is astute, funny and spot on. I’ve always liked him, against my better judgement and in the face of a storm of derision from various friends and family. I guess that you really do either love him or loathe him. Despite being a bundle of walking contradictions I think he should be embraced as one of the UK’s brightest and best.
Anyway the show…
Man Arrested at Russell Brand Gig screeched the headline in the local rag the next day in typical tabloid style. Just an average everyday pissed bloke though, not a Right Wing Nutter out to assassinate Russell the Revolutionary. Four coppers sitting on the poor sod probably taught him a lesson – don’t get off your face and wander onstage during the support act at the O2 Guildhall, they don’t like it. Brand makes no mention of the incident, presumably oblivious to it backstage.
Starting off like his last tour with a bit of audience mingling, he got more than he bargained for in Southampton. Squeezing through the audience one female opportunist seized the day. “That woman just grabbed my knob!” exclaimed Russell. “I’m a victim of a sex crime” he said, coming over all Kenneth Williams for a moment. The woman’s punishment was Russell having a quick squeeze of her husband’s privates in public.
The actual show saw him retreat somewhat from any serious talk of politics and revolution and concentrate on what he does best; talk about himself and his rampant libido and how his egotism gets him into various weird situations. Like playing Willy Wonka singing the Beatles at the Olympics.
Fame and celebrity, for a red-blooded heterosexual, is like “being trapped in a massive tumble-dryer full of money and tits”. He accompanies this with a frantic mime of grabbing and suckling and thrusting.
He is hated by the Daily Mail, and no doubt their Tory puppet-masters, but Russell gives them both a righteous and hilarious verbal seeing-to.The reason the Tories are such bastards is that they’re all crap in bed and don’t know how to shag…. allegedly, according to Russell, who is after all an expert on the subject.
Apologising for mentions of clever stuff ( like Nietzsche) and a large portion of the show devoted to sexual misadventure and gymnastics did seem an attempt to wins the hearts of the lowest common denominator element of the audience rather than the minds of the smarter-than-average.
A former stage-school-kid, product of and celebrant of Celebrity Culture and recovering addict, Russell Brand is not the dangerous, radical would-be revoluntionary some want him to be, but he is very funny, very astute and seems genuine in his plea for tolerance and yearning for a kind of utopian hippy communism. History will show whether or not he is seen as being a catalyst for some kind of revolt. Or just a funny guy who looked a bit like Jesus.
All words by Ged Babey – more of Ged’s Louder Than War writing can be found here