The Wonderful Dream of Russell Brand (Fremont Theater San Luis Obispo August 16th)
For reasons obscure, comedian, actor & bon vivant Russell Brand parked his act at our local art deco moviehouse last night. It was an immediate and predictable sellout, packing the joint in a way I hadn't seen since attending the premiere of Dino de Laurentiiis' King Kong remake at the same venue back in 1976, that halcyon bicentennial year when people still went to the movies.
His performance was a masterful counterpoint to the Keystone Cops event staff, who's floundering on lighting (in one instance dimming them entirely when he asked for them to be raised) and sound provided unintentional fodder for their star. The most incomprehensible failure followed Mr. Brand's request for the removal of a heckler named Gareth who felt hailing from the Lake Country entitled him to billing as co-headliner. His command paralyzed the two yellow shirted "security" guys, who were rendered unable to move or respond in any way as Brand transferred his burning ire from the heckler to them. It was a fundamentally unsettling moment, foreshadowing his later anecdote about sitting in a classroom when a dog appeared to frolic in the fenced in schoolyard- the veneer of control and civilization is thin, and if any one little thing cracks it nothing is unthinkable.
Fortunately aside from Gareth & one other drunk yelling girl his command of the room was absolute and held fast for the remainder of the evening. The show was very, very funny, politically astute, exceptionally and hysterically lewd and cuttingly insightful. He hadn't yet entirely nailed it down and watching him work on things, improvise and weave elements of the clusterfuck event promotion into the show was as if not more entertaining than his more polished delivery of the finished sections.
A main theme was the glamour of celebrity and the way it confuses the perceptions of those inside and outside the bubble. One engagement with drunk yelling girl (which went something like "You have this little voice inside telling you to SAY SOMETHING! I have some news- that little voice? It isn't your friend!") resonated with several of his personal tales, for instance when he climbed atop a car at a protest/near riot and ended up stripping naked, resulting in a conviction for public lewdness.
What separates magnetic performer Russell Brand from loutish Gareth or drunk shouting girl when all are clearly afflicted with the same unreasonable, demanding little voice?
I think it's in their dreams.
A kaleidoscope of factors contribute to the improbable outcome FAME! but absent the animating jolt of belief which dreams provide they don't come together. Every figure of inspiration he spoke of in the show was animated by an impossible dream- Gandhi, Malcolm X, Jesus & Che Guevara. He had wonderfully constructed bits for each which drew a self deprecating parallel between an incident in their lives and one in his own.
I think the real connection is in their individually animating, improbable dreams.
The dream of Russell Brand is a marvelous, profane, inclusive and splendid one.
at 3:52 PM