Ol’ Rusty Rocket has returned. Russell Brand is going back on on tour in the UK. Named Re: Birth, the 71-date jaunt will see Russ roll out material he first aired last year, this time hitting up venues from Cambridge to Leicester to London. The firebrand funnyman is no stranger to big statements, outrageous behaviour and controversy. Will fatherhood have changed him? Don’t bet on it. Here we remember his most controversial career moments so far.
Goose-stepping at The GQ Awards
Boris Johnson had made a grim ‘joke’ (to stretch the word greatly) about Syria, so when Brand took to the stage, he dubbed the comment a “genocide quip”. Russ proceeded to make one of his own, at the expense of the event’s sponsors, Hugo Boss, a brand that famously designed SS uniforms during the Second World War. At one point he goosesteps across the stage. You can’t take him anywhere.
Taking on the might of Google
In this stand-up clip, Russ characterises Google as a snippy know-it-all, finishing everyone’s sentences and correcting their spelling. When the company finally takes us all over, Russ will be first in line.
Doing his shtick at the Home Affairs Select Committee’s on drug addiction
We love you, Russ, but there’s a time and a place, yeah? He mucked about like a naughty schoolboy through this serious discussion about drugs, to the point where he was advised that the panel was on limited time. His response: “Time is infinite.” He was reminded that the panel was not “a variety show”, and we all looked at our feet.
Making light of Tom Cruise’s religious beliefs
Appearing on Conan O’Brien’s show, your friend and mine Russell Brand attempted to reign himself in, mentioning what a nice bloke Tom Cruise, so as to protect his film career, before going off-piste and claiming that he’d unsuccessfully attempted to be inducted into Scientology by Tom Cruise. But it wasn’t his only controversial encounter with O’Brien…
Explaining the monarchy to Conan O’Brien
Arguably the funniest clip in this list, here we see Brand act as a British correspondent, explaining to O’Brien exactly what the Royal family… is. “They’re so highly bred they can barely function. I think their gene pool consists of about nine chromosomes.”
Casting all Brits as hooligans or the landed gentry
Russ’s American audience appeared to lap up the stereotype. Say what you like, the man knows his audience.
Having a go at Katy Perry
You know, his ex-wife. Performing at Soho Theatre, he said, “When I got divorced, I considered becoming a monk. When you’re a monk, you’re not a allowed to have sex with anyone. When you’re married, you’re not allowed to have sex with anyone. When you’re married, it’s one person. That’s one more than a monk. It’s not that different. I’d be having sex thinking, ‘Think of anyone, anyone else.’” No, you’re right, it’s not very classy.
Insulting Andrew Sachs that time
Well, we had to get there at some point didn’t we. It’s true, Russ committed a toe-curling crime against radio in 2008. Along with Jonathan Ross, he called up Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs (RIP), with Ross shrieking, “HE FUCKED YOUR GRANDDAUGHTER!” No-one comes out of it well, the tabloid press was up in arms, Russ resigned and Ross was suspended without pay. Looking back, Ross comes off worst – and his career definitely suffered way more.
Calling George W. Bush “that retarded cowboy fella”
It’s grimly symptomatic of the age of Trump that George W. Bush sort of doesn’t seem so bad now. Still, at the time, Brand was fearless in his criticism of the-then President of the United States, using his platform at the MTV Video Music Awards to joke: “Some people, I think they’re called racists, say America is not ready for a black president. “But I know America to be a forward-thinking country because otherwise why would you have let that retarded cowboy fella be president for eight years. We were very impressed. We thought it was nice of you to let him have a go, because, in England, he wouldn’t be trusted with a pair of scissors.”
Taking on his Twitter trolls
Being married to Katy Perry is not without its pitfalls. Brand incurred the wrath of her fans, the #katycats, on Twitter, who tore him to pieces (swearily) while being nice as pie to her. But Russ took ‘em on in his own inimitable style – and we look forward to more of the same during his upcoming UK tour.