Russell Brand stole the show in the film “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and subsequently starred in his own spinoff, “Get Him to the Greek.” He was a video journalist for MTV in 2000, performed for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Philip in 2007, and recorded a stand-up special on Comedy Central in 2009.
He was recently kicked out of the GQ Awards for pointing out that Hugo Boss designed the Nazi uniforms during his acceptance speech for the Oracle award. This was after London Mayor Boris Johnson joked about the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Fans will be excited to learn that Brand will bring his controversial yet lofty brand of comedy to Coral Springs on Sept. 22.
His tour, “The Messiah Complex,” will delve into the ideologies of several public figures he considers to be heroes. Among them are Malcolm X, Mahatma Gandhi, Jesus Christ and Che Guevara.
When asked how he feels about using Guevara in his act in South Florida, the comedian said, “I’m a little bit nervous about it, obviously, because I know that it has a big Cuban population. There might be people that left Cuba at the time of the revolution.”
However, the Essex, U.K.-born comedian says that this will be an intelligent discussion about the polarizing figure, as well as other leaders. He continued, “The context that I’m talking about this man in is [them being] willing to die for what they believe in. Malcolm X famously said, ‘By any means necessary,’ and Che Guevara demonstrated a willingness to kill for what he believed in. I’m well aware that there was a degree of brutality and prejudice involved in that revolutionary regime, but my primary interest is in people that want to help the poor.”
Perhaps the most well-known example of the type of leader to whom Brand refers is Jesus Christ. As for lessons we can learn from someone like Christ, he said, “I think that for all the heroes, they were willing to die for what they believe. In the cultural landscape now, we don’t have leaders that are willing to die for what they believe in, and I think that that’s interesting. You have a set of ideology, and it’s also about media and the bit of information that we’re given and build our lives around. Information that we’re told is important, and there is information we’re advised to ignore.”
The comedian-turned-actor went on to define what the title of hero means to him. “I think a hero is somebody that’s willing to sacrifice themselves for others. So, yeah, Nelson Mandela sacrificed himself for others. Edward Snowden sacrificed himself for others. Chelsea Manning, as she is now known, sacrificed herself for others. The definition of heroism is the willingness to sacrifice themselves for others.”
Brand said there is no specific thing that influences him as a person. “It changes all the time, and I think it’s difficult to say what heroes influence me, but I think if you have access to books like [those so-called] books for beginners or for dummies. Like, say you read ‘Existentialism for Dummies,’ that’s pretty good. Or ‘Quantum Physics for Beginners.’”
The “Despicable Me 2” voice actor was also able to reveal his primary sources for information. “I get a lot from Twitter. I follow people on Twitter, and if they tell me to read something, then I’ll read it. And it’s print media primarily. I don’t watch a lot of television news unless I’m particularly guided to do so. I like the BBC a lot.”
“The Messiah Complex” is not just the name of Brand’s tour; it’s also the name of a condition that is also referred to as the “Christ Complex” or “Savior Complex.” Although it’s not specifically referred to in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” the condition describes individuals who believe they are or are destined to become a savior. The comedian says he has not come into contact with anyone with this particular state of mind. “It’s not a common thing, is it?” he asked, then added, “I actually wonder, really, for me, people need to have messiahs to believe in, because I’ve always… We live in a culture dominated by consumerism; the bad ideas are not helpful to people, so it’s almost like we’d be good to have a Messiah Complex.”
Returning to the subject of comedy, Brand was asked which political figure, past or present, he thought would have made an entertaining stand-up comedian. “Ooh! Hitler would be good, I think. He’s got real style up there. He would smash up the stage, telling these jokes that’s a little bit racist.” Also, “Stalin would be a bit dour.”
The actor, who will star in the upcoming film “Paradise,” was slated to start season three of his show, “Brand X with Russell Brand” on the FX network, but it was canceled in June. However, the network did pick up a script loosely based on his life.
“Yeah, it’s true, but at the moment I’m just going to do my stand up. I will eventually do something, but, at the moment, I’m so happy doing stuff in comedy,” he added.
While we wait for that show to develop, fans can catch Brand’s stand-up comedy show, “The Messiah Complex,” on Sept. 22 at the Coral Springs Center for the Performing Arts, 2855 Coral Springs Drive. For tickets and details, visit CoralSpringsCenterForTheArts.com.