Superstar UK comedian Russell Brand, he of verbose truth-to-power rants and unmistakable coiffure, is set to bring his acerbic, witty charm to our shores next month – and not without a few customary bones to pick about Australia.
He may also get the chance to fulfill his promise in May this year of gay-marrying Tony Abbott, now that the deposed PM has a lot more time on his hands. Having put his popular online political series ‘The Trews’ on hiatus – as well as his social media accounts – Brand will commence the Australian leg of his ‘Trew World Order’ tour in Melbourne before heading onto shows in Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and two in Sydney. ‘It's quite an achievement to have created a show that manages to be crowd-pleasing and provocative at the same time,’ The Guardian wrote of the show, which is essentially a stadium version of his web series.
While Brand is ready to bring his A-game Down Under, he hasn’t held back on a number of issues facing our country, such as marriage equality, refugees... and drinking. In a recent interview with The Daily Telegraph, the star of Hollywood hits ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ and ‘Get Him To The Greek’ described Sydney’s lockout laws as “preposterous”.
Sadly, he may find some of our other capitals’ nightlife regulations to be a tad on the wowser side, too, but that won’t stop the ironically non-drinking, non-drug/ sex-addicted (well, nowadays) comic from assuring there will be all manner of revelry at his shows. “We will be keeping our venues open way beyond the time of any curfew, we will be serving whatever drinks people want way into the night and we will consider it our duty as citizens of a free planet to stay up way past everybody’s bedtime ‘til we are so tired we all start crying just to defy this preposterous law,” the 40-year-old said.
“I would like to know the real reason they are doing it – to stop people assembling, to stop people communicating? Normally, the answer is, in some ways, the interests of the powerful have at some point been inhibited or impacted. Anything that impairs people’s personal freedom, generally speaking, or collective freedoms or public freedoms I am broadly against.”
Of course, the only hurdle facing Brand’s wish to get all matrimonial with our speedo-loving former leader is Australia’s status as the only developed, English-speaking nation yet to legalise marriage equality. With a distant plebiscite still seemingly the only hope for change, Brand has lambasted our government’s snail-pace reform agenda. “I think when a country doesn’t allow same-sex marriage it’s signalling to their own population and to the world that there are kind of prevailing medieval belief systems,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “It’s sort of embarrassing.”
Hopefully he hasn’t lost any rich material since the fall of Abbott’s reign, as many domestic comedians no doubt have – always a bittersweet aspect of losing a gaffe-prone, conservative politician who basically writes his own burn jokes. In addition to his mockery of our marriage laws, our July piece: ‘5 Times Russell Brand Got Australia Better Than We Did’
detailed Brand’s recent takedown of the Australian government’s terrible handling of refugee children in detention.
In a ‘Trews’ piece aimed directly at Abbott, the oft-serious humourist declared: “There are other ways [to treat asylum seekers] as well, Tony. That is, to pull back your perspective, recognise that this is one planet and instead of having a blind allegiance to corporations and creating tax loopholes for them, have instead, an allegiance to children that are imprisoned.”
Marriage equality and immigration are just some of many social issues the Essex-born comedian has embraced as part of an ever-intensifying political agenda. Along with his ‘Trews’ videos, he has routinely criticised the money-grubbing ways of the political and corporate elite in his native Britain and abroad, and even has a non-profit Trew Era Cafe based in London and staffed by recovered drug addicts.
Brand has also channelled his neo-socialist activism into a book – ‘Revolution’, which, as the title suggests, details his ambitious manifesto of anti-capitalism and wealth redistribution – and a film, ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’, about gross inequality and injustice in modern Britain.
In his recent, rather literally titled ‘Final Episode Of The Trews - Goodbye, Good Luck’ video on August 20, he detailed his plans to put the show on hold indefinitely, citing misguided mainstream media criticism. “I think we’ve gone as far as we can with the Trews for now,” he told fans. “I’m not going to be doing the Trews, I’m not going to be on Twitter or Facebook. I’m going to be learning because I know real change is coming and I want to be part of that. Media behaves in a very sort of predicable and formulaic manner.
“If you speak out about that process you become the recipient target of such incredible condemnation it’s in a way overwhelming and in others completely understandable.”
Like many other, wealthy celebrities who speak out against social injustices, Brand has had his fair share of criticism and accusations of hypocrisy. But few world-famous stand-ups and Hollywood stars could lay claim to the destitute, drug-addicted experiences that plagued Brand in his 20s, and he is unashamed of being a mouthpiece for numerous causes. “I offer amplification for things I believe in,” he told The Big Issue earlier this year.
“I became famous, successful, and did all the things you’re supposed to do if you’re from Essex and you’re ambitious – go and get famous, get rich, get laid and paid. I did all those things, and sort of still felt a bit empty and hollow, the same things that led me to become a drug addict. So, out of desperation more than anything else, I’ve tried living altruistically and to try to be of service to a community, to serve ideas that I believe in.”
Russell Brand may not be everyone’s cup of comedy tea, but few can match the Briton’s masterful wordplay. Witness the Trewth yourself.
Sat 17 Oct - Rod Laver Arena (Melbourne)Sun 18 Oct - Adelaide Entertainment CentreTue 20 Oct - Perth ArenaThu 22 Oct - Brisbane Entertainment CentreFri 23 Oct - Sydney Opera HouseSat 24 Oct - Qantas Credit Union Arena (Sydney)