10 Comics to Watch
Similar to the way Amy Winehouse impacted the music scene last summer with her retro look and sound, British comedian Russell Brand is putting his imprint on the standup circuit Stateside with his random humor and Alice Cooper getup.
“I once heard Matt Groening say that a great cartoon character has to be recognized by its silhouette,” says the uniquely coiffed Brand.
However, it’s Brand’s filter-free personality that has made him a coveted comedy commodity and what ultimately provoked producer Judd Apatow and scribe-headliner Jason Segel to re-jigger the role of Aldous Snow, the rock star who steals Kristen Bell away in the recent “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”
Conceived by Brand, the character isn’t that far from his true self: outspoken, an ex-heroin addict and sexually blatant with a nod to his rocker mates Morrissey and Noel Gallagher. Brand will resurrect Snow in Apatow’s next production, “Get Him to the Greek,” a dirty take on “Almost Famous.”
Success came fast for Brand, who studied at the famed Drama Center in London, an institute that the comedian labels “a get-naked-and-cry drama school.”
After playing five gigs in 2000, “I found myself in front of an audience of 1,000 at London’s Hackney Empire Theater,” he explains.
Soon after, MTV in the U.K. and the Brit version of “Big Brother” sought his hosting duties.
In 2006, he happened to interview Adam Sandler on his MTV talkshow “1 Leicester Square.” A relationship ensued.
Brand credits Sandler with importing him to the States, introducing him to his current agent, Adam Venit, and getting him in front of Apatow.
But it’s Brand’s ability to shoot from the hip that grabs his comedic peers and auds.
This was evident in Brand’s recent appearance on “The Tonight Show.” Jay Leno asked Brand how he’d feel if men courted his single mother. Brand confessed, “What if they just want to feed me gruel and pack me off to me room?”
Then, flattering Leno, Brand exclaimed, “You’d be a different story with your twinkly eyes. I also like your silver and black hair — like a reverse Dracula.”
“My first impulse is, my God, that is so embarrassing, no one can never know that,” says Brand, commenting on his off-the-cuff style. “Then my next impulse is: That’s material.”