Who Is Russell Brand?

Um, who is Russell Brand? I know that he’s hosting the MTV Video Music Awards and that he played himself in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. And I read the profile on him in today’s New York Times. But it’s weird though. All that information, and I still don’t get it. He’s like the white Tyler Perry. WHO ARE YOU? WHAT IS ALL THIS? The difference of course being that Tyler Perry’s work escapes my understanding as it’s directly created for and marketed to a sub-section of the African American population to which i don’t belong, where as Russell Brand is RIGHT IN MY WHEELHOUSE and he’s BLOWING UP IN MY WHEELHOUSE. OK, so, he’s famous in the UK as a stand-up comedian, a television presenter, and now an auto-biographer. What, what, and what?

Let’s just take this one at a time. After the jump, a Videogum Field Guide to Russell Brand.

Russell Brand’s Booky Wook

It would seem at the moment like one of Russell Brand’s biggest achievements is the publication of his best-selling memoir, My Booky Wook. It hasn’t come out in the US yet, so it’s kind of useless as evidence. But I will say that maybe the reason Brand still confuses me as an international celebrity is because the last comedian to successfully publish a book in the United States was Paul Reiser in 1995 with Couplehood.

Russell Brand Interviews Adam Sandler

According to the Times profile, it was Russell Brand’s interview with Adam Sandler for his MTV Europe show 1 Leicester Square in which the two comedians bonded that led Sandler to promote Brand in the United States which led to Judd Apatow casting him in Forgetting Sarah Marshall which led to anyone in the United States even knowing who he is. It just goes to show that you should always treat people with respect because you never know if one of them is a famous comedian that you are interviewing for your show on MTV Europe.

Russell Brand Stand Up Comedy

Of course, we’re always told that Russell Brand is a stand up comedian, but to the best of my knowledge his work has not been widely disseminated in the United States. Has it? Am I missing something? I could be missing something. I’m always missing things. In college I majored in Out of the Loop with a minor in Unaware. Anyway here he is doing stand up comedy. Bully.

Russell Brand on The Tonight Show

But here is the part where I get lost. If his book isn’t available in the United States and his show on MTV is only broadcast in Europe and his stand up comedy specials aren’t widely seen in America, then how is he all of a sudden famous just for being himself? I’m not knocking him for it. Jolly good show guvnah for him. I hope he’s getting paid in Euros. But it’s weird that he’s sort of grandfathered in as a famous personality who’s main schtick is just riffing on what it’s like to be him. So here we are, forty hours of YouTube evidence deep, and I’m still as baffled by the Russell Brand enigma as ever. He’s funny, although I have a soft spot in my heart made of clotted cream for the smirking wit of the British, so it’s hard to dissect the jokes from the wink and the accent. Perhaps we will never know who he is or what is the deal with him.

Perhaps we don’t need to.

Russell Brand with Ricky Gervais

Just a bonus clip of Russell Brand palling around with Ricky Gervais. I don’t know what this proves other than that famous people continue to know each other.