Q&A

RUS­SELL BRAND, PON­DER­LAND

Geelong Advertiser - TV Guide - - Q&A -

In Aus­tralia, Rus­sell Brand may not yet be the house­hold name he is in his na­tive Eng­land but that is set to change: some­one this charis­matic and con­fronta­tional doesn’t stay anony­mous for long.

Blessed with a sil­ver tongue and a quick­sil­ver wit, this black-clad, long-haired ac­tor, writer and stand-up co­me­dian re­sem­bles Cap­tain Jack Spar­row’s even more de­gen­er­ate lit­tle brother.

He per­forms his com­edy in front of sold-out audiences who treat him like a rock star. He’s won over Hol­ly­wood, hav­ing landed roles in sev­eral ma­jor films such as St. Trinian’s and For­get­ting Sarah Mar­shall. He says what he likes and rarely wor­ries about the con­se­quences.

And now he’s tak­ing up res­i­dence in your TV, host­ing his wickedly funny Chan­nel Seven se­ries Pon­der­land, which has him hold­ing forth on var­i­ous top­ics with the help of some won­der­fully silly and strange archival footage.

My the­ory about you, Rus­sell, is that peo­ple con­nect with you be­cause you seem gen­uinely cu­ri­ous about the world and ev­ery­thing in it rather than be­mused or blindly an­gry at the state of things.

So your the­ory is that peo­ple con­nect with me be­cause of a lack of fury and be­cause I seem ap­proach­able and nice.

Well, you seem ap­proach­able and nice … so far. But pri­mar­ily it’s be­cause you seem to want to un­der­stand what’s go­ing on in the world rather than just rail against stuff.

I think I am a quizzi­cal gent, yes, and I think your the­ory holds wa­ter. It will go down as one of the great the­o­ries; it’ll rank along­side the works of Pythago­ras.

Thanks for that. Hey, when did you re­alise you were funny?

There are key mo­ments through­out my life. I re­mem­ber do­ing an im­pres­sion of Frank Spencer when I was seven and every­one in the room laughed and said ‘Do it again! Do it again!’ And I did it again and my Nan said ‘Nah, wasn’t as good that time’. I was only lit­tle! But that was quite funny the first time, not so good the sec­ond.

I ac­tu­ally wanted to be a se­ri­ous ac­tor, and while I was at that drama school, tackling dense, aca­demic and beau­ti­ful things like Moliere and Shake­speare and Brecht, the stuff I re­ally en­joyed was when we were im­pro­vis­ing and muckin’ about. My stand-up ca­reer started when there was nowhere else left to go, re­ally.

So you’ve got this show on Seven called Pon­der­land. What’s it all about and why should I miss the cricket or some­thing to watch it?

Do you like cricket a lot?

Not re­ally, no.

This is bet­ter. It’s me talk­ing about a sub­ject I find in­ter­est­ing. My mates, who have pro­duced the pro­gram, watch loads of old TV shows – mostly doc­u­men­taries. Some­times they’ll see some­thing that’ll make them go ‘That’s f--king ridicu­lous’. And it might not even be a ma­jor part of the show – it’ll be some­one in the back­ground or some­one mak­ing a bizarre com­ment. When tele­vi­sion is made, it’s about nar­ra­tive, in­nit? It’s about in­for­ma­tion be­ing de­liv­ered in a cer­tain fash­ion – ‘We’re try­ing to take you to this place’ – but when it’s out­side this nor­mal lin­ear jour­ney, that’s when it gets funny.

Speak­ing of things that are out­side the nor­mal lin­ear jour­ney, you cut a strik­ing fig­ure with your clothes, your hair­style, your whole de­meanour. Does the outer Rus­sell re­flect the in­ner Rus­sell?

Yes, and that’s why it works. Like (singer) Mor­ris­sey said: ‘Black on the out­side be­cause black is how I feel in­side.’ I think my ex­ter­nal con­di­tion is a fair rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the way I feel in­side: spindly, con­fused and a bit sexy.

When my mum asks me, ‘Who’s this Rus­sell Brand you talked to to­day?’, what should I tell her?

Say he’s a spir­i­tual gent. And mis­un­der­stood. ‘God, he’s mis­un­der­stood. I could have fol­lowed him to the ends of the earth. I could have kissed him.’ And please in­di­cate that in spite of my su­per­fi­cial rene­gade sta­tus, I’m a deeply spir­i­tual and moral man. My moral codes are au­then­tic, not based on ar­bi­trary con­form­ist mech­a­nisms. She’ll prob­a­bly be quite into me, your mum.

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