Russell Brand Interview

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Russel Brand

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Russel Brand It’s been a turbulent couple of years for stand-up comedian, actor, author and all purpose Renaissance man Russell Brand, both professionally and personally. Hollywood embraced the saucy Brit, casting him in lead roles and eye-catching supporting parts in films such as ‘Arthur’ and ‘Rock of Ages’. And his marriage to Pop starlet Katy Perry – and the couple’s subsequent split – made him even more of a glossy-mag fixture than usual. But Brand’s quicksilver wit and yearning for a deeper, more meaningful understanding of life remain the same, and his recent explorations into the extremes of fame, fortune and celebrity have given him the opportunity to indulge them even further, as his upcoming nationwide comedy tour
titled ‘I Am A Walrus’ looks set to demonstrate.

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How goes the search for wisdom and enlightenment, Russell?
The search for wisdom…well, it’s a daily process, innit? But today’s been amazing – I’ve meditated, done Kundalini yoga, spent some time with a Native American mystic woman. And I’ve done some breakfast interviews with Australian characters like Kyle and Jackie O who are rambunctious and up for it so I’ve been cursing and talking about coarse and vulgar stuff, which is a real laugh. But while we are animals, we’re also divine and I’m very interested in accessing the realms beyond the senses. I’m interested in the realms of the unseen. Our lives are defined by what we can see, hear, smell, touch, taste but it makes sense that there’d also be stuff beyond that, whether it’s unseen dimensions or just electricity.

What is providing material for you these days? It would seem that your life has changed in a number of ways; has it altered the way you process things?
Not really. I just did the Olympics and a lot of crazy, funny stuff happened to me during that, so I’ve got loads of things about that. Living in the world of celebrity, I’ve got an interesting insight – it’s such an aspirational aspect of contemporary life, innit, that world. And when you’re part of it, you think ‘Well, this is mostly silly’. It’s 99 per cent silliness, and that provides me with really interesting material. Take the Olympics: there’s tens of thousands of people in the stadium, a billion people watching worldwide, and none of them know my trousers are being held together by Sellotape and the corners of that tape is stabbing me in the testicles. There’s craziness that goes on behind the scenes.

The feeling about celebrity would seem to be that all your problems disappear once you make it big. Your pants always fit nicely and they definitely don’t stab you in the private parts. Well, absolutely not. When you’re doing movies and meeting stars, you’re still a person. Unless you’re in tune with yourself spiritually, unless you have harmony with yourself and the way you treat other people, it doesn’t matter how much money you have, you’re just gonna feel baffled. We receive a lot of erroneous messages about what life is supposed to be and what it can be. I spent a lot of my life pursuing material possessions and transient stardom, and in achieving a degree of it I’m in a position to address the falsity of that pursuit. At the same time, you’ve worked hard to reach those heights.

Is it hard to strike a balance between enjoying your success and retaining your integrity?
It is, and I find myself asking how I can be truthful to myself. How can I make sure my stand-up comedy is true to my principles? I can be on a radio show with a very laddish atmosphere and I’ll join in and make jokes about women and ejaculation and I recognise that’s what I need to do but the challenge is being authentic as a comedian or an artist or a human being while accepting the confinements and requirements of your job. I mean, I’ve got to be funny if I’m there – I’m a comedian, for fuck’s sake – but I want to be truthful, and the things I’m encountering on my spiritual journey…well, you have to learn a lot about it before you can convey it. And I’m still very much on the foothills, gazing at the summit of enlightenment.

Would you care to spruik your show I Am aWalrus? What’s it all about?
The title itself is a good way of summing it up. I sang ‘I Am The Walrus’ on top of that bus at the Olympics, and my mate Mick, who drives me when I’m in England, thought I was singing a song called ‘I Am A Walrus’. It’s only a small difference but ‘I Am The Walrus’ implies some psychedelic messiah from the mind of John Lennon, while ‘I Am A Walrus’ is just, you know, a walrus. So you could be on top of a bus at the Olympics, singing a Beatles song, but what is your life really defined by? If you don’t have a relationship with truth, what is it? So broadly the show is about what it’s like to be famous, what it’s like to experience those things, but how really it’s just part of being a human being. Different things happen but embarrassing things happen and funny things happen and sexy things happen and stupid things happen. I want to create an atmosphere where it’s the opposite of what people read in magazines that tell them they’re not thin enough or sexy enough or their hair not good enough. I want people to feel that everything is good, everything is perfect, everything is how it ought to be. And the stuff that isn’t? We can change that. I want an atmosphere of controlled mayhem, sexiness and chaos, hope and humour.

And dick jokes?
Oh yeah, there’s gonna be dick jokes.

“If you strip away self-effacement, charm and the
spirit of mischief-qualities that make determination
and ambition tolerable- you’re left with a right
arsehole.”
– Russell Brand, My Booky Wook

By Guy Davis

Russell Brand: I Am a Walrus Tour
Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Friday 30th November
Perth Arena, Sunday 2nd December
Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, Tuesday 4th December
Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Friday 7th December
Sydney Entertainment Centre, Saturday 8th December.

 

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