It’s been very much Russell Brand’s summer.
The media seems to have developed something of a penchant for the stick thin dandy with the bouffant hair and a tabloid fuelled reputation for seemingly endless sexual conquests. With a solid reputation in stand up circles (with a tour about to commence) and his satellite show revolving around Big Brother all summer it would seem he been on our screens and in the press for what seems like forever.
It was I suppose only natural that Channel 4’s naughty sibling E4 was going to strike while the iron was hot and give him his own late night show. Hence Russell Brand’s Got Issues…
For those familiar with Big Brother’s Big Mouth his latest outing isn’t much of a deviation from the winning formula. Stick the man in a studio, give him an excitable crowd and a topical issue to talk about and you can more or less leave him to his own devices.
The opening show was asking whether our quest for beauty was making us a nation ugly. Interesting topic, bound to be inflammatory especially when you add a celebrity (in this case Lily Allen, not normally backward in coming forwards) and the obligatory “freaky” guest (a musclebound man who “injects himself with beauty”, a blind woman for whom the visual aesthetics of beauty were inconsequential (add to this the fact she was allegedly drunk as well), then of course the crowd with suitably opposing views on the subject and you’ve got the makings of the show.
As seems to be the case with Brand he functions best when the crowd is redlining up to the “out of control” stage. It seemed with this show however he was having to work that little bit harder than on Big Mouth and if there’s one thing I have noticed, when things aren’t quite reaching boiling point he often falls back upon his tried and tested tales from his drug abuse days to liven things up which were represented tonight with footage of his now famous strip tease which took place on top of a police riot van in 2002.
Undoubtedly funny but one wonders just how long he can keep dipping into this well before the water runs dry. Lily Allen looked a touch nervous in his company but then again in conversation with his guests his eye contact is uncomfortably unwavering and he often leans in so close to his guests that the concept of personal space becomes essentially redundant.
What was funny however was watching the blind woman briefly take over proceedings which seemed to put just a little dent in his ego. This it would seem is a man who isn’t that keen on taking second billing but then anyone who has seen Brand at work should know by now that ego is a driving force which makes him so eminently watchable.
As an opening show it was passable viewing and I suspect depending on the subject matter chosen for the following shows it could go either way at this point. In fairness certain changes have been made to the show late in the day (Trevor Lock was going to be part of the programme until a recent alleged incident in Scotland saw him pulled at the last minute) so this could have unbalanced things somewhat. In conclusion not the essential viewing I was expecting but one that could improve over the coming weeks.