Not knowing what to expect and with a certain amount of dread after seeing Russell Brand on the telly, I reluctantly accepted a ticket from a friend for his (now sold out) show in the Wildman Room of the Assembly Rooms last night. After lining up for some 15 minutes, we were ushered into a small and intimate setting with a small stage area. This held a simple wooden stool and a table holding bottled water (Highland spring of course) and a plastic bag printed with The Scotsman logo. Within seconds of entering the venue, I heard the sounds of the Libertines; a definite sneer at the tabloid press, which Russell discusses in more detail later in the show, though unfortunately no mention of him and Kate Moss.
Within minutes of taking my seat, although 5 minutes after show time, Mr Russell Brand took to the stage. The uniform was as expected â€“ skin tight, grey washed skinny jeans, polished black leather boots, white button up shirt with a grey pinstriped waistcoat and of course the trademark frothy black hair. I was immediately struck by the way he filled the room before words had even escaped his mouth. As previously mentioned, I was not sure what to expect. The papers say he is funny, but having watched BBBM (Big Brothers Big Mouth), I had my reservations. These were quickly put aside, as within the opening seconds I found laughter escaping from my body, which would soon turn to hysterics.
Without giving away the punch lines â€“ there were anecdotes about real life embarrassing situations in which Mr B constantly finds himself. From the hilarious events on a skiing trip where he unsuccessfully tries to retrieve luggage in a manly way off the baggage carousel, to his recent appearance hosting the NME awards where he was called a â€śc**tâ€ť by Sir Bob Geldof on national TV. His re-enactment of this hilarious, but somewhat embarrassing event involved brief impressions of the scruffy charity leader from his days in the Boomtown Rats during the first Live Aid concerts. His mortification of this occasion is cleverly delivered, with riotous mirth.
And this is really what the Russell Brand show is about. By his own admission, his life is just one long string of embarrassing events, which he stumbles across on a daily basis. Events that he elaborates on stage and tells everyone about in his own hysterical camp way (I think this might be the campest show delivered by a straight man Iâ€™ve ever seen!). During the proceedings I enjoyed hearing about such events and happenings in his life, even about the awkward and often ridiculous blunders made during sex. It is his dramatical choreography of such events on stage and the way that he comically minces about which makes things even more entertaining.
His apparent ease with sexuality comes out during one part of the show during which he openly tells you about his previous drug and alcohol addictions, then turns to his newest compulsion: sex. At this juncture I feel the need to point something out; if you are a garden variety conservative missionary position only for the purpose of reproduction type person â€“ then perhaps this show is not for you. If you have any hang-ups or insecurities about sex and masturbation you will most definitely not have by the end of the show as he talks candidly about absurd happeningâ€™s during masturbation, the bizarre behaviour during sex with a partner such as sex faces and of course, his own embarrassing moments of participating, blunderingly so, in dirty sex talk. Like all great comedians, Russell Brand is adept at taking the most mundane, normal things in life then presenting them in a way which makes you realise the foolishness of it all.
After 50 side-splitting minutes, he rounded up the show by pulling out a tabloid paper, The Sun, which had printed an article about himself. He proceeded to analyse and dissect it, hurling comedic abuse at not only the fabrication of the entire piece but also the writerâ€™s appalling lack of grammatical prowess (but I guess it is The Sun!). This brings me to a very important point about this man. What strikes you immediately about Russell Brand is the clever and eloquent use of the English language. He communicates in such an articulate and intellectual manner, not often experienced in comedy, and yet manages to enamour the audience rather than alienate with his intelligent, sharp and very, very witty delivery. One almost comes away thinking one had just left a very funny English lesson â€“ but then you realise that English lessons were never that funny and that this English teacher was wearing more hair product that every female in the class combined.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the show and was somewhat disappointed when it came to an end. An end that was delivered with brief parting words from a cheeky Russell B, letting the female members of the audience know that he was definitely and very much indeed an obtainable celebrity. If you are in Edinburgh or anywhere else around the country over the next few months as Russell tours the land, I would most definitely and highly recommend you beg, borrow, steal or get on eBay for a ticket. The man is worth his comedy weight in gold!
And so to finish, using my own perceptively impressive and vast vocabulary I can only say: boy done good.
Russell Brand’s Shame show runs at the Assembly Rooms and EICC (added to cope with demand) until the 27th August 2006. It’s a complete sell out.