The often foul-mouthed, crotch-thrusting Russell Brand threw off the PC shackles of America last night, swapping them for out-of-control blood-sucking jokes in his first Australian gig.
The British comedian seemed relieved to have left behind the US, where he has been vilified for his anti-Bush comments in the past, and where his unapologetic brand of comedy is regularly censored for uptight Americans.
From the start it was clear the crowd at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne was going to love whatever shenangians Brand, a former drug and sex addict, brought to the stage. Women and men clamoured for hugs from him as he walked through the crowd, with one fellow professing Brand could turn him. Clearing reveling in the attention, Brand obliged the grabby crowd but objected to overt bum grabbing, labeling it “workplace harassment”.
Admitting to a bit of jet lag (“it’s the only buzz I get now I’m off the drugs”), Rusty took a bit to warm up. He spent the first part of the show reading random facts about Melbourne and paying out Canberra, a gag most of us have heard come out of even our dad’s mouth. Not hugely original but it showed his improv skills. He had a lot of fun with the convict angle – again not new comedic material but fun when delivered by Brand who would often randomly thrust his crotch at the audience as an afterthought (“it’s controlled spacticity” he explained).
The early part of the show felt almost like he was testing our limits, feeling out if we were ‘have a laugh’ poms or PC America. Figuring we could handle it, he told us about a vampire’s – or Robert Pattinson’s in particular - love of, um, those lady bins in the women’s toilets. The pros of dating a vampire he said was “if you’re caught out without the necessary sanitary products…your worst period will be his time of the month!” It was a joke he claimed he wanted to tell while hosting the MTV Video Music Awards, but got cut because of Kanye West’s outburst at Taylor Swift.
Brand referenced his relationship with Katy Perry, saying it was weird to be dating someone more famous than he is. He didn’t mine it for comedic gems, obviously referencing it to keep the audience happy – quite a few fans laughing on the night probably only know him because of his singer wife-to-be.
From there he went vintage Brand, professing the delights of “bumming”, thrusting his way around the stage and treating screaming women to a fake orgasm. It was fun and what the crowd had been gagging for all night.
But Brand, although hilarious, was apologetic throughout his show. He’d profess repeatedly that he didn’t want to offend our culture or country. The time Brand has spent in the States promoting his new film career and bedding Katy Perry, has clearly made him acknowledge rules and boundaries – strange for a man who has spent most of his life being a famously bad, bad boy. Forget Uncle Sam, Brand, we love your most scandalous self.
Brand's show hits the Sydney Entertainment Centre tonight.