When I saw Russell Brand for the first time on MTV, within seconds I came to the conclusion that this man was not only medically insane, he was also extremely annoying. Later, every time he appeared on television, he quickly changed channels; I didn’t care enough to find out about his past, I just assumed he was friends (or maybe lovers) with one of the big hairs. After all, how could such a talentless nit appear on television? (In hindsight, a rather ironic question.)
Then one day, I read a news report on Yahoo! which described how Brand had a nervous breakdown on one of his shows long before the MTV days. The title of this show was called Re: Brand and luckily some guy had uploaded the entire series to YouTube. I proceeded to look with some curiosity: Russell Brand? Narcotic fuel breakdown? Count on me!
But as the first episode I watched, W *** and W *** y continued, my sadistic motivation waned and I found myself entertained by this guy. It was funny, sometimes hysterical. And not in the unfortunate sense; His personality shone through when he combined this humor with insightful reflections on core themes like friendship, homelessness, altruism, sexuality, old age, racism and more, and oddly enough, this mix of seriousness and comedy really fit the bill. One minute, I would be talking about if sexual orientation is purely genetic (present at birth), or if it is cultivated by the environment; and the next, he would blurt out explicit descriptions of genitalia and sexual acts as if he didn’t have a power button in his mouth. In fact, I think Brand is one of those people who lacks a certain self-censorship that so many people, so indoctrinated by society, schools, the media, etc., are copiously possessive. What comes out of your mouth is invariably what bounces off your mind, for better or for worse. It is raw, uncut, explicit; just like the thoughts that go through your head, appearing and disappearing in an instant, each one reaches into Russell’s big bearded mouth.
I didn’t get the impression that Brand was drugged, much less heroin, much less a nervous breakdown, that is, he wasn’t slurring words, he could walk quite well (even jumping in the air and doing the old click of heels ) and did not hire any prostitutes (except for one episode, however, there were extenuating circumstances for this, where even a sober man would likely do the same). However, the appearance, despite its relative sobriety, there are some questionable acts in this series that indicate something very suspicious: choosing to perform fellatio on a man in a pub restroom as the full basis of the first episode, is one. Another, deciding that it is beneficial to try to knock out your father in a boxing match. It was this episode that struck a chord in me, which finally made me happy for this man and his newfound success. The part of this Dad Fight episode where he tells his dad that he hates himself and wants to kill himself really made me reflect on my own life, that if he can come from that low then me and anyone else person too. correct work ethic (and good luck, let’s face it). Either way, Brand now wasn’t a guy who happened to meet all the big hairy guys on MTV; he had come from some really dark places to be where he is today.
However, the funny thing is that even when Russell Brand is depressed, it is still just as fun. In fact, I think I prefer his humor in Re: Brand to today, as it is now more mainstream and more pop culture oriented, watching the MTV awards where he first rose to fame in the US. ., After his torrent of deliberately controversial comments about the Jonas Brothers and George Bush. I like the fact that much of Re: Brand has no purpose in its humor; Some episodes are hardly funny at all, at least in the conventional sense, the My Old Tart episode is a clear example of this, more geared towards Russell’s reflections on old age, life, joy, desirability, his empathy. and soul searching questions (both to himself and his ‘subject’). I love the low budget and raw quality of the series; Compare that now to the Hollywood movie Get Him to the Greek, starring alongside characters like P Diddy, and it seems strange to see where Russell Brand comes from. Do you ever wake up and wonder where the hell you are? Do you ever wake up next to Katy Perry and wonder who the hell that beautiful girl is, surely not mine? Ever wake up with millions in the bank, with the slightest hint of desire for a single puff of that boiling brown tar? Do you still wear your mantle of love, if only? Who knows … but what I know for sure is that Re: Brand has given me a new perspective on who Russell Brand really is (was he?) As a person, and I hope deep down that he doesn’t change.