Expectations

21 01 2011

Last night Julia and I went to see Russell Brand at the Improv in Hollywood. We got the tickets free from one of Julia’s friends. I jumped at the chance because it seems to me that he is as the zenith of his fame, more or less, and I think it’s great to experience acts and artists like that. Imagine Zeppelin circa 1973 (although, of course, Russell is a comedian and Zeppelin was ZEPPELIN!!).

What I expected was some goofy, raunchy, half-wit humor; I also expected to laugh…a lot. While we did get all of that, Russell brought a whole other game to the table that I did not see coming.

The entire performance was filmed with five cameras and will be used as the narrative thread for a documentary Russell is making about happiness. The raunchiness (frequent references to masturbation, anal sex, and sex with Sarah Palin to name a few) was flanked by comedic dissertations on sub topics such as depression, why certain countries are statistically the happiest in the world (neither the U.S. or U.K. make the top ten), children’s priorities as to what will make them happy (being a celebrity ranked 1st), and the craziest reality show titles, which at the time seemed relevant enough even if it doesn’t the day after. The point he made regarding the latter was, with so little time on this earth, why do people invest so much time into watching these shows.

He wove all of these topics (and more), including multiple forays into the mental and moral gutter (which were really fun), into an succinct, well-rehearsed and (gulp) intelligent 90-minute routine. What surprised me most was Russell’s eloquence and diction, and the speed at which he spat it out at us. I had nothing alcoholic to drink last night, and it’s a good thing, because I needed all my clarity to keep up, and I laughed more than I have in years.

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