BY KAITY HALL
The promotional artwork for the Messiah Complex tour, imbued with iconography identifiable with the image of Che Guevara, sets the revolutionary tone for Russell Brand’s show from the onset. In the course of his Waterfront show, Brand make a bid to convey to the audience that he is “a little bit like” Gandhi, Che Guevara, Malcolm X and er, Jesus Christ.
He 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, after all, stand up comedy. He utilises himself as a source of parody beside these heroes. To some, it’s narcissistic; yet, 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.
With an astute awareness of the polarity of the public’s opinion on him, he reflects with unerring enthusiasm on how newspapers and the press report on him. This isn’t anything new for a Russell Brand show. He is spot on with the public consensus that his film career has been a bit of a flop, describing how he essentially plays himself “wearing different hats.” Reflecting on his own failures he endeavours to describe some of the failures facts about his heroes, raising the question of what actually makes a celebrity or a hero and why 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 often crude but hilarious comedy shine through. Behind it, there is also a thought provoking message about our culture here by asking us to question the people and institutions whose hands power rests in. This is a marked difference to his past stand up comedy shows.
Ultimately, Brand’s humour 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.