Russell Brand brings sexy revolution to Vancouver
At the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Saturday, August 24
Russell Brand is a very clever and charming man, and we all want to fuck him. The comedian bringing moisture to the scorched granite deathscape of Mika Brzezinski’s libido on MSNBC two months ago was a wonder to behold, ditto Joe Scarborough. Presumably choosing to use this God-given power for good, in his new show, Messiah Complex—which saw him graduate from a casino in 2011 to a sold-out Queen E—Brand attempts nothing less than to seduce the rest of us into his own private revolution. You can sign me up.
“Communism is just sharing, isn’t it?” he asked disingenuously at one point in a wildly entertaining and often heady 90-minute set. “We tell children to do it all the time!” Coming on like a cross between Bill Hicks, a shaman, and a caricature of the vintage British rock star of your choice (the voice is pure Jagger at his most effeminate), Brand took us on his quest for meaning in a universe where God is dead and Gandhi is used to sell iPhones.
The message might be a tad obvious, but we should be rallying behind it anyway. In a bit about corporate advertising, Brand very sensibly pointed out that using a disposable razor is hardly—as Gillette would have you believe—“the best a man can get.” Not compared to having someone stimulate your arsehole while somebody else gives you a blow job. “Shaving? Don’t set the bar so low," he admonished.
The nicely shaped trajectory of the performance had Brand talking about the strengths and flaws of his personal heroes—Gandhi, Che, Malcolm X, and Jesus (“'cause I think I look a bit like him”)—not to mention his own well-publicized weaknesses. Corporate dragons and the religious right were slain; the media was savaged, while the wordsmithing and references were inspired. If Dennis Miller were throwing Tom Waits, Carl Jung, Wittgenstein, the CIA, and filmmaker Albert Maysles at you—not to mention such creatures as “Kate Bush Hitler” and “Anal Miles Davis”—he’d round it off with a call to bomb Iran.
Brand, however, is one of us—sort of: "the oppressed majority against an invisible enemy”, as he put it, while copping to his own good fortune at being dropped from obscurity into “a tumble dryer full of tits and money." But he understands our shared spiritual death and he picks the right targets. Pointing to Che Guevara, Brand described the image as “fierce, noble… What a leader should look like”. Replaced by a picture of Stephen Harper (and once the booing stopped), Brand imagined how an incredulous alien might react if we took him to our leader. “We wouldn’t let him be in charge of pencils…” he said.