The promotional artwork for the Messiah Complex tour, imbued with iconography identifiable with the all popular image of Che Guevara, the revolutionary tone is set for Russell Brand’s show from the onset. In the course of his Waterfront show Brand made a bid to convey to the audience that he is “a little bit like” Gandhi, Che Guevara, Malcolm X and er, Jesus Christ. Many may have something to say about the British comedian known for sexual promiscuity and controversy, paralleling himself with some of the most iconic figures in revolutionary thinking. However, do we really expect anything less than outrageous from Mr. Brand?
Brand relishes in sensationalism and the Messiah Complex tour is simply another strand of it when he puts himself on par with what he refers to as his heroes. For those who question how he can have the audacity to dedicate an entire show to transforming his own self image into a hero, it IS stand up comedy, he utilises himself as a source of parody beside these heroes, giving himself his own parodic Messiah Complex. Narcissistic to some maybe, however, as he tells anecdotes looking back upon some of his most embarrassing moments in television and the press, he redeems himself through his comedic self deprecation and class clown persona.
With an astute awareness of the polarity of the public’s opinion on him, he reflected with unerring enthusiasm on how newspapers and the press report on him. Being a feature of his previous tours, this isn’t anything new for a Russell Brand show. He is spot on with the public consensus that regard his film career as a bit of a flop, describing how he essentially plays himself “wearing different hats.” Reflecting on his own failures he endeavors to describe some of the failures and lesser known facts about his heroes, he brings into question what actually makes a celebrity or a hero and why exactly we regard them so highly. They are simply humans as well. This is made invariably clear when we see a clip of Brand on the News “trying to look normal” and failing both hilariously and spectacularly at it.
Brand excelled to make his, at times, crude but nonetheless hilarious comedy shine out with a thought provoking message about our culture by asking us to question the people and institutions who’s hands power rests in. Ending with the message “Choose your heroes carefully or culture will choose them for you”, this show had a marked difference to his past stand up comedy shows in this unconventional essence. Brand’s comedy might not be for everyone’s taste, but managing to create a show that keeps the comedy alive while delivering a poignant, underlying message is no small feat by any means.