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Jon Chattman

Jon Chattman

Posted: June 1, 2009 08:45 AM

A Different Brand of Comedy


When Russell Brand was announced as the host of last year's MTV Music Video Awards, they were met no doubt with a collective "um, who?" I think it's pretty safe to say after the bricks he tossed at last year's VMAs (more than Shaq on the free-throw line), audiences still don't know him in the states or get him for that matter. Brand is fully aware of this, and talks about it in a new stand-up DVD release "Russell Brand in New York."

The British comedian has slayed audiences in his native land, but his humor hasn't exactly crossed over to American audiences. This DVD should help. The "shock" comedian, who dresses and prances around stage like a rock star although he honestly hasn't deserved that right just yet (he may in due time), discusses his fame in the UK vs. his virtual obscurity in America. He has no problem poking fun at everything and everyone - in particular - MTV for choosing him to host the VMAs and attempting to market him as the British Lenny Bruce. Altogether, Brand is somewhat fearless although not always funny in the 60-minute set. He's at his best when he's talking freely about his sex life, fame, and fortune but takes awhile to really hit his stride.

Admittedly, I have a like/hate relationship with Brand's comedy. I thought the comedian stole the show in last year's painfully underrated comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but found him an utterly bore when he hosted the VMAs. He came off as a legend in his own mind in the film - which worked, but on stage with moon men, that same off-camera persona misfired.

Thankfully, the DVD is closer to his stint in Judd Apatow's comedy hit- with hilarious bits and insight on everything from meeting the Queen to responding to death threats he's received. Unlike the VMAs where his Aqua Net hair took center stage, the performer's comedy is front and center here - for better and for worse.