Russell Brand is a hard man to pin down (unless, of course, you’re a woman). The slinky sex pirate of tabloid lore has, in recent years, blossomed into a thoughtful media commentator. He’s popped up on Newsnight to talk about addiction – which is unpacked to hilarious effect in tonight’s show – and penned eloquent articles for the Guardian.
It’s this brainy side of Brand that takes centre stage tonight. He introduces us to his heroes – Gandhi, Che Guevara, Malcolm X and Jesus Christ – and wrestles with the ideas of Nietzsche and GK Chesterton. In a Godless world, we look to other people for leadership, but they’re just as flawed as the rest of us. Brand shockingly recounts the rank hypocrisy by Ghandi over the use of Western medicine, which led to the death of his wife. Or as one heckler puts it, ‘Ghandi was a cunt’.
Another of Brand’s heroes, Morrissey, is in the audience tonight, but it’s a different Mancunian Rock star, Noel Gallagher, who threatens to steal the show, albeit in absentia. The Essex dandy gleefully quotes the former Oasis guitarist’s jibe at Brand’s select committee appearance last year. ‘Russell, why were you at the Houses of Parliament dressed as the WWF wrestler The Undertaker?’ It’s a welcome correction to the comic’s ego, which at times threatens to balloon out of control.
As Brand wraps things up, the audience is treated to a wave of sexual filth: the material so blue, it would make Roy Chubby Brown blush (check the next edition of Viz Profanisaurus for the term ‘leather bagel’). Inevitably, Brand concludes by comparing himself to Jesus, otherwise known as the Second Coming. Fnarr fnarr.
Despite the show’s delusions of philosophical grandeur, ‘Messiah Complex’ is as thought provoking as it is entertaining. But let’s get one thing straight: Russell Brand is not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy.
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