Russell Brand returns to our screens this week with a new topical comedy show on Sky Atlantic called Brand X. We caught up with him to find out more…
How would you describe the show?
“Essentially, this is just the news but in a funny way, and we analyse why certain stories are portrayed in the media the way they are. We start with jokes and funny stuff in the news, then there is a bit of analysis about whatever the subject is and then it is all about what the audience think.”
Do you enjoy that audience participation?
“Yes, it’s like when I used to go in the audience on Big Brother with that daft wand talking to everybody. It is good to see what people think. I love being with an audience and I have always done stand-up because I prefer it to anything else – it is more direct and fun and I feel like this is what I am meant to do.”
Is there a serious point too, though?
“Well, I want people to come away having learned something and having a different perspective on a topic. I want people to say about Brand X, ‘What do we think about the relationship between the corporate world and politics? Well, they said this on that programme and they seem all right’.”
The programme is made in America, but is there still a British flavour?
“You can’t be any more British than me and I’ve found, being in America, the more British I am the better it works because they love Britishness and they know that we should really still be in charge. They are wisecracking and we are self-deprecating, but there is a crossover and we find the same things funny.”
What do you miss about the UK when you are in America?
“I miss loads of things when I’m not here, like not being able to talk normally and clack away in slang and colloquialisms about shared stuff like Worzel Gummidge. Nobody knows Worzel over there, they say, ‘What, he’s a scarecrow and he takes his head off?’ So I miss the weird Englishness of that and things like Jacob’s Crackers.”
Do you still get starstruck?
“I’ve been famous for a while so I now know that well-known people are just really normal people who have got a good job, but working with Tom Cruise is pretty out there because he is so famous. You talk to him and your brain just keeps telling you, ‘He’s in Jerry Maguire’, but he is so kind it is easy to be normal around him.”
How has your life changed since becoming famous on both sides of the Atlantic?
“Generally speaking, I am tremendously happy with some of the material success I have achieved, but of course it will all go when I am in the graveyard. More importantly, I am happy with the spiritual stuff, which obviously you don’t have so much time to think about if you are signing on and taking a lot of crack and heroin. Now I don’t do that, I have more time to develop spiritual practices.”
Brand X begins on Sky Atlantic on Monday, July 2 at 11.05pm