A NETFLIX ORIGINAL COMEDY SPECIAL
Russell Brand’s a joke.
[man] What a loser he is.
Strong and stable leadership. [screaming] Russell Brand asked me for an interview.
[man] Brand attended a march outside Downing Street. We’re gonna make America great again. You’ve never, ever voted?
Russell Brand’s a joke.
No, do you think that’s really bad?
[cheering and applause]
Settle down. [grunts] All right, don’t take the piss. Let’s establish a bit of genuine rapport. Who here’s seen me perform before? Say, “Yeah.”
Those of you that have seen me before will know that, primarily, my motivation in performing is to convey to you my belief that deep within each of us there is a… an essence, and if we can connect with that essence, as individuals, and connect to one another truthfully, there’s a divine power that will be unleashed, with which we can change ourselves as individuals, society and maybe even the world. That’s the main reason, but I’ve gotta be honest, there is a financial component to it. Turns out, if you spend all your time criticizing all media, it is quite difficult to make a living in media. Twentieth Century Fox ain’t that keen to cast you in stuff if you keep goin’ on the telly saying that Rupert Murdoch’s part of a global cabal that’s preventing ordinary people having any democratic power and that he looks like a sun-damaged ball-bag with glasses. All right, uh, I think it’s time to talk about that thing. Bit weird, wasn’t it? That thing about 18 months ago when I tried to bring down the government from my front room, on the internet. Embarrassing moments. Interesting. It culminated, I suppose, with the Ed Miliband interview. It was difficult for me, really, ’cause I always agree to do things, but when it comes time to do them I don’t want to fucking do it no more. You know? When it actually is happening. Don’t have to be major things. It’s normally simple things like like, someone, say, “Will you pick me up from the airport?” I’ll say, “yeah,” but I don’t fucking mean it. I can’t imagine being at an airport. In my head, what I’m responding to is, “Are you nice?” “Yeah.” So, I agreed to do the Ed Miliband interview, but when it come time to do it, I didn’t want to do it no more, you know? I go to my mate, who’s producing it, “I don’t want to interview Ed Miliband no more.” He goes, “You’ve gotta interview him now. He’s in the fucking house!” So, like, I go, “All right, I will interview Ed Miliband, but I’ll only do it if we can conduct the interview with him perched on the edge of my bed.” These advisers come rushing over, in suits and they go, “You’re not interviewing Ed Miliband with him perched on the edge of your bed.” “Why?” “‘Cause it’ll look like you’ve just fucked him.”
So, that intervention and shift of category meant that I was situated in a slightly different place in the cultural narrative, and it was exacerbated, too, by an interview that I did on hard-hitting current affairs program Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman. Now, when I went on that, I said a lot of things that I believe in, a lot of things that are true, but I think in a show when we’re talking about impermanent mutability and the possibility for change, it’s worth having a look at how many fucking personalities I go through. I start off… quite jolly, bonhomous and light-hearted, but there’s a moment where I get really serious much too quickly. See if you can spot it. I don’t know many people that edit political magazines. Boris. He used to do one, didn’t he? So, I’m a person with crazy hair, quite good sense of humor, don’t know much about politics, I’m ideal! But is it true you don’t even vote? Yeah, no, I didn’t vote. “Ooh, no! Not on your nelly. I won’t do that. Ooh! Mind your own beeswax.” Odd response. Over the course of the interview, it becomes more combative, and for some reason, I abandon my actual… quite lighthearted, Essex-boy persona in favor of a kind of hip-hop, grime MC, Stormzy character, and I get so immersed into that role, that I forget how to say the word “actor.” Why is that naive? Why is that not my right because I’m a ac-tor? ♪ Because I’m a ac-tor Not some dumb motherfucker on X Fac-tor ♪ ♪ Or a farmer in a field on a trac-tor ♪ I’m sensing blood now. I feel like I’ve got Paxman on the ropes. So, I decide it’s time to go double Danny Dyer, full Raymondo Winston, and start using Cockney rhyming slang that would only make sense in Canning Town, East London, in about 1982, to accuse Jeremy Paxman’s dead relatives of being sex workers. I remember seeing you in that program where you look at your ancestors, and you saw that your grandmother had to brass herself. You cried. Merry Christmas. ♪ I see you on the TV on that show ♪ ♪ Where your nanny Had to brass herself off ♪ ♪ Sucking geezers off Into her boat race ♪ ♪ Till they jizzed up in her mince pies ♪ ♪ You cried! ♪ That… is Newsnight. It’s not how people talk on Newsnight, is it? Have a look when you get in. It’s not people talking about brassing off and jizzing up. It’s graphs. Maths. Nice propaganda. Look at how upset Jeremy Paxman is about me saying that about his nan. “She only done blow jobs.”
These dalliances with powerful establishment figures meant an entry into that triumvirate of media, government and big business. And if you speak out against the interests of the powerful, in public, it all fucking kicks off. You have to deal with a lot of stuff. Check it out. This is just some of the headlines that were written about me during that time. First one’s out of The Sun newspaper. [yells] “Russell Brand is moving to Syria.” I’m fucking not! Struggling to fit in in Henley-on-Thames. It’s been a culture shock. Do you not query the veracity of newspapers, just when you analyze the technique they use for naming themselves? Like, they’re misleading, the names of newspapers, e.g. The Sun. “Yeah, we named ourselves after the sun.” “What, that orb of fire at the center of our solar system, without which there would be no light, life, photosynthesis, or our earliest conceptions of gods and goddesses?” “Yeah, named ourselves after that.” “Yeah, okay. What’s in there?” “Lies, tits, bingo. That sort of shit.” Raise your game. They all use that technique. A sort of subtly misleading name technique. The Mirror. “Oh, we’re the Mirror. We reflect you back at you.” “Oh yeah, I’m a cunt, look.” Yeah, and broadsheets are not exempt from this slightly presumptuous and misleading method. The Guardian. “Hey, I know I’m not your real dad, but… you can trust me, yeah, and I’ll do your thinking for you.”
We all know the worst one is the Daily Mail, but don’t feel guilty if you look at these productions, these publications. Don’t feel bad about it. I look at the Daily Mail online sometimes, at night, as a kind of sorbet between wanks. Casual bigotry. Take my mind off things. This is a Daily Mail headline that I kind of, actually, quite like because of their use of the word “lament,” which is quite a poetic and beautiful word and not normally a word you would find in a headline. In fact, it’s like a title of a Smiths song, and I love Morrissey, so I’m down with that. Check it out: “Russell Brand laments… ‘ISIS wouldn’t have me.'” ♪ Oh, ISIS wouldn’t have me The crisis doesn’t grab me. ♪ ♪ Jihadi John, what went wrong? What went wrong, Jihadi John? ♪ ♪ We should have loved you now ♪ [cheering] Thanks. This is a good one. “Russell Brand calls for revolution and labels Cambridge University students ‘Harry Potter poofs.'” I did do that. But they’ve took it out of context. That was at Cambridge University, to their faces, mucking around. It weren’t, like, malicious. It’s not like I went, “Thank you very much for having me address your Union. Goodnight… Harry Potter poofs.” I was mucking around. It was inclusive.
Now, we know, of course, that the media operates primarily to construct bogus narratives to create delusion, trick us. Not everyone knows that, that it’s designed to continually trick you. That’s why I get accused of some fucked up stuff sometimes. Like, right, check this out. Who here knows who the Illuminati are? Say, “Yeah.” [audience] Yeah! Basically, everyone, they’re meant to be a secret society, fucking running the world. Everyone knows who they are. I’ve been accused of being in it. Look at this. “Do not trust liar Russell Brand. He’s a gay, reptilian space alien, involved with the Illuminati.” I think, at the point that you’re accusing someone of being a fucking reptilian in the Illuminati, you gotta let go of whether or not they’re gay, at that point, okay? ♪ I come from another dimension I’m controlling the financial industry ♪ ♪ The CIA, MI5 And the British Royal Family ♪ “Very interesting. Who’s that?” “Oh, that’s me boyfriend, Barry.” “Oh, fucking hell! Steady!” Pick a prejudice.
This one’s true as well, actually. “Russell Brand wishes he was bisexual.” Who fucking doesn’t though? Really, deep down. Be easier, wouldn’t it? Better. Better lifestyle. Better for everyone. Suddenly, life is a world of opportunity, a buffet of interchangeable sexual organs that you can just pick at at will. Why not? Better. A friend said, “Don’t say that. That’s quite an insensitive way to regard bisexuality.” And I went, “Fuck it. No, you’re right. It is, actually. Sorry. Why don’t you cheer yourself up… by fucking anyone in the world? Should take the edge off. Don’t even have to look.” I’ve still got it. You may have noticed the under-hook. That’s the key moment. Don’t forget that. It’s not just mindless fucking pummeling, like a piston. It’s an upward flick. Into the G-spot. For God’s sake. If you learn one thing tonight, let it be that, the upward flick. Work that, for Christ’s sake. What’s wrong with you people? I don’t need it anymore. I’m married. My… museum of erotica has been fucking shut down. Huh. This poor guy. He don’t know what’s fucking happened. He’s gone from chairman of the board to tea lady overnight.
Check this out. 51 percent of the people in this room are married. -If you’re married, say, “Yeah.”
If you’re not married, say, “Yeah.”
[louder shout] Yeah!
All right, that sounded… That was a lot louder, but you’ve gotta remember that the married people will be broken inside. Jaded. Won’t be able to summon up much gusto. [groans weakly] The other thing in here, statistically, is 40 percent of the people in this room are not satisfied with their jobs, apparently. If you’re not satisfied with your job, say, “Yeah.”
If you are satisfied, say, “Yeah.”
[louder shout] Yeah!
Sixty-forty, on the fucking nose. It’s working. Now, check this out. This is where the statistical analysis of this room aligns perfectly with the information across this country, ’cause 28 percent of the people in this room right now are suffering from mental illness. Now, obviously, I don’t expect you to go, “Yeah! Whoo-hoo! I’m fragile! I’m clinging on! I don’t know what’s real!” [makes fart sound]
And, of course, I include myself in that demographic of the damned. I was first diagnosed as bipolar when I was 22 years old, and prescribed a drug called dothiepin, which is a mood-stabilizing drug. Trouble is, by the time I was 22, I was already chemically dependent on crack and heroin, so that dothiepin was being introduced into quite a pharmaceutically competitive environment. “Hello. I’m dothiepin. I’m here to regulate your mood.” “Yeah, well I’m crack, motherfucker!” “And I am heroin. Into the inky soil we go, where day is night and black is white, and death is life.” “Stop that. That’s childish. Come this way, please. I’m making a citizen’s arrest.” I ain’t taken no drugs, none, for 15 years. Zero drugs.
Thank you. Cheers. [chuckles] Yeah. The main thing about not having had drugs for that long is when a new drug’s introduced, that’s become popular since I stopped taking ’em, I always think, “Fucking hell, that sounds brilliant!” Like ketamine. People say, “Don’t take ketamine. That is a horse tranquilizer.” Good! If it makes a horse tranquil, it’s gonna fuck me right up. [woman] Whoo!
I had to take my dog to the vet for an operation. The vet give us drugs for his convalescence, like, amazing drugs. Amazing drugs, just with the word “dog” in front of them. Like “dog morphine,” “dog ketamine.” “Dog tramadol.” It’s only an adjective, innit? And the drug’s not gonna know who’s taken it, is it? “Hang on a minute. You’re not a dog.” “Shut up. Shut up and deal with the pain.” The vet could tell my interest was dubious from the type of questions that I was asking him. “What time should the dog take that tramadol? Would that tramadol go well with a glass of dry white wine? Be a complement to it? What happens if the dog wants to cook that up and smoke it? How much bicarbonated soda are you cutting that with? When would you take it off the spoon? When it’s sticky or hardened– All right! Don’t touch me! I’m a customer.” When it come time to hand over the bag of drugs, he give ’em my wife, even though I was nearer to him, and it made better sense to give them to me, feng shui-wise. I had to watch them go past my fucking face, like that, like on a conveyor belt, standing there trying to act all neutral, while inside I’m twitching and clucking, like Gollum from Lord of the Rings in an H. Samuel’s jewelers. “Ohh! I’ll just have a carriage clock. I’m fucking fine.”
So, the show is called Re:Birth because I’ve become a father. I’m a father now. [cheering] Cheers. Thanks. I suppose, like, uh… to be frank, it’s amazing that it’s taken this long. I mean… hardly been conservative with my sperm. Giving the stuff away like sticky confetti. The real miracle is that one of them’s been allowed to germinate, instead of being squandered in a stranger’s eyelashes. Still, she’s here now. Let me tell you, I watched her being born and there ain’t nothing like seeing a vagina coming out of a vagina to make you reevaluate your attitude towards people with vaginas. It’s like fucking Russian dolls of vaginas leading back to the dawn of time. When it comes, that moment, in our case, three a.m., where the sublime, the divine and the carnal all begin to combine. “Russell, the baby’s coming.” Like the universe is bending forward like the branches of a tall tree, and suddenly, my house is a place of mystery, and the pets seem to know something’s happening. My cat, Morrissey, stands at the door as a sentry, glum as his namesake. Our other cat, Jericho, sprightly and diagonal, aware of the impending new life. Our dog, Bear, a bit off his fucking head, to be honest. Think I’d messed with his tramadol dosage. Ensconced in domesticity, seems like a beautiful retreat, but it comes with its own propaganda and illusions. For example, pregnancy lasts ten months. That’s ridiculous. Nine months, isn’t it? Everyone said nine months. There’s films called it. It’s fucking ten months. It’s ten months. It’s like finding out there’s an extra day of the week called Gerald. Ridiculous thing to have to deal with, goes on for fucking ten months. Then the process of labor itself can last from, like, 12 to 36 hours. Very draining, them leaning against the wall, moaning. [groaning] Then moan at you. [moaning] Very taxing, very boring, very difficult for the man. Don’t know what it’s like for the woman. Never thought to inquire. Not really the subject of this evening. That is the challenge, being a male in a birth situation, is, uh, you’re, broadly speaking, irrelevant. Like, I mean, they give you jobs. Moody fucking jobs. Like, she’s here, my missus, in what they’re calling a birthing pool. It’s a bath. I’ve got, like, a jug of water and I have to tip it over her back. That’s my job. Tip the water over her back. I’ll tell you what it’s like. You know when a whale gets beached and Greenpeace go down to hose them off, keep their spirits up. I didn’t fucking say that to her! I’m not an idiot! “Hey, this is like a Greenpeace rescue mission and you’re the whale.” I’m not fucking stupid. It goes on for ages, the process of labor. It’s very, sort of, carnal, you know, and a sort of dark theater, but suddenly, there’s a change in atmosphere. Very, very sudden, like a flexing of the material of reality, like a glitch in the Matrix, and everything changes radically and suddenly, into a very distinct new vibe. The only thing I can compare it to from normal life is if you were in a Wetherspoon’s pub, like, a moment before it kicks off, and you think, “Oh, fucking hell. Let’s fucking…” Like, it changes. It suddenly becomes clear that you’re dealing with something almost supernatural, but entirely and ultimately natural. And I thought, “This is it. I’m gonna transition from being not a father to a father. This is the moment when my entire life is gonna change. All right, get ready. Get ready. We’ve had fucking ten months of pregnancy, 12 hours of labor. This is it.” When it gets to the final stretch, which is obviously an unfortunate phrase, given the circumstances, I think, “I want to focus,” because I know I want to be very present in this moment. I want a prime position, essentially, to be ringside, which is an unfortunate phrase, as well, actually. Because I was thinking to myself, “I don’t wanna miss this shit,” which, as it turns out… is also an unfortunate phrase. Now, I saw… incredible, magical… disgusting… deeply private and personal things in that room, which I’m going to tell you about explicitly now. For a start… And I fucking wish someone had told me some of this stuff because it’s… surprising. Like, the first thing that I noted is, before anything opens up down there, that whole area comes forward, elevates, like a… like a soufflé rising. It looked like a swimming hat with a vagina on it. She doesn’t know, my wife. She’s the other side of the hill. “Everything all right down there?” “Oh, yeah! Don’t worry about down here. Just Grant Mitchell with a vulva Mohican.” Then it opens a tiny little bit, and something comes out under the water. ♪ Da-da-da-da-da! ♪ Like a little announcement of some kind. And the vagina opened about this much. Like a little plum-sized hole, full of baby head. And it was only in that moment I thought, “How big is a baby’s head, actually? Like little plum heads, are they, babies? Like little Ken doll heads? Is that what you have?” No. Suddenly, without any real warning…. Bwooooop. Apple. “Is that how big a baby’s head is? You see them, don’t you? In a pram, in the High Street. Little apple heads.” [chomps] “I shall love it, just the same.” But then, again… Bwooooop. Melon! I was thinking, “Fucking hell! How big is a baby’s head? This poor woman! And poor me and all ’cause I’ve gotta go back there for recreation. How am I meant to put all this out of my mind and go back there for fun after all of this carnage?” It’s like when they reopened that roller-coaster at Alton Towers. “Come on. Probably won’t happen again.” [screams] “Fucking hell!” Vivid image. Then there’s a push and the head bulbs out, and it’s like when you’re on a plane in turbulence and air hostesses look at each other and you think, “If you’re worried, I’m worried.” But someone gets a stethoscope, measures something, it’s cool, and the baby’s there with just its head out, wearing its mum like a sleeping bag. And then, there’s a push… and a whoosh… and out it comes, and at first it don’t look real. It looks like a special effect, like an animatronic baby, not like life, but like the reflection of life on the surface of a silvery pool. And I recall a time I threw a goldfish down a toilet. It was dead, I’m not a freak. As the goldfish hit the water, it was resurrected, simply by aerodynamic perfection, and seemed to live again. And this is how this infant looks in this moment, moving only ’cause of the motion of the water, but then the mother reaches down and picks it up, and their umbilical cord is there, tangled like headphones in your pocket, but as the mother’s hands hold the child, her eyes open… Whew! And she goes online. And something switches on in her and something switched on in me and that is it. That is the moment of creation. Consciousness. It’s there that I realize that consciousness is life. Matter is not life. Consciousness is life. It rushes into me in a divine flashlight, that thing, the Michelangelo finger thing. You know that thing, everyone fucking knows it. It’s fucking… E.T. nicked it. Innit? It’s that thing. The Sistine Chapel roof. That thing. No, you’re… Yeah. Not the Sistine Chapel roof. Sistine Chapel ceiling. No one gives a fuck about the Sistine Chapel roof. “Oh, my God! How did you do that?” “Well, basically, mate, it’s just terracotta tiling along there. Then you see some guttering here.” “It’s very good. Well done! Bravo!” “Tell you what, if you like that, you want to pop downstairs, have a look at the ceiling. The geezer on interiors, he’s next fucking level.” Mind you, took him four years to do it, and I had these tiles up in half a day, so you tell me who’s a fucking genius, you know what I mean? Michelangelo, of course, on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, painted, more importantly than the birth of the species, the birth of consciousness. As well as being a Champions League-level genius, he was also an anatomist, he worked on bodies and dissected ’em. And that is why God on the Sistine Chapel is depicted as being in a dissected brain. Check it out and look at the comparison. To make the point that God issues mankind with consciousness. The awakening, the experience of the moment itself, the very essence of awakeness is God. This I realized… And you might think, actually, “Russell, you’re overthinking it.” Well… Why’s God in that fucking brain-shaped blanket for, then? It’s not a thing, is it? God in a blanket. Is it? “Oh, God. Don’t wear your blanket in the house or you won’t feel the benefits when you go out.” He’s making a a point, in’t he? Also, note Adam’s face. He’s not been switched on yet. He’s daft as arseholes. Look at him. He ain’t had the touch. He’s an idiot. Mind you… he might be a bit cheesed off about this little guy. Yeah. He’s been given short shrift. Given that Michelangelo was a gay man in charge of interior designs, he could have had fun with it, couldn’t he? [Italian accent] “Hey!” [chuckles] Because, otherwise… Michelangelo’s not like a Mario brother. “Hey! I should draw a big-a bell-end ‘ere, and some ball-bags, eh, and I whack it off-a!” “Yeah, Michelangelo, we’re gonna have to talk about that fresco there.” “What’s-a the matter, Popey, old chum?” This is a genius, he’s a great genius, one of the architects of our understanding of reality. [chuckles] Unless, of course, you know… done it on purpose. Like, you know, high up in the Catholic church and that. “They’re not gonna wanna look at big adult cocks, are they? Just do little tiny ones. No, you’ve gotta keep-a the boss happy, innit? Diddle-iddle-iddle-eeh!” “Bloody hell, Michelangelo! You are a genius. Sunday Mass is gonna fly by, and I might be able to keep my hands off the choirboys. Now for a final coat of gloss.” [groans] Motherfucker… [groans] Sorry, mate. Right in the front row. That’s why I’m not on the fucking telly. Sorry. Sorry, I lost myself. That’s what we’re here for. What was I talking about? -[woman] Birth… -Birth of my daughter. And its connection to God and consciousness and oneness. And the way I interpret that is by wanking into a man’s face. But, the profundity of that experience, the recognition that consciousness is entering the world somehow, somehow superior, somehow sublime, somehow separate to material, somehow puppeting material… That realization, that visceral connection in an ordinary event, like the birth of a child, suddenly places political narrative and political tittle-tattle and tirades and bullshit that you have at that level in its rightful place. Meaningless, empty distraction, can’t take it that seriously even if I’m the center of it. And I’m a fucking vain motherfucker, you know that about me. Look at some of these other headlines. Trivial, nonsense, propaganda. Like, beneath us, in a way. “Hypocrite Russell Brand is a champagne socialist.” Hm, that’s out of order. Cocaine communist, if anything. -Crystal meth Marxist. -[cheering] Another one– Don’t cheer… cocaine. I suppose you would. Gonna feel quite upbeat, aren’t you? Look at this one here. It’s blatantly a joke and they’ve just printed it as a headline ’cause they’re not even paying attention. This is a Daily Mail headline. It was just a joke I said. Look. “Russell Brand says Donald Trump’s hair is the real reason he opposes wind farms.” Joke. Mucking about. But I think if you have a little joke at someone’s expense, you should give ’em the right to reply. And we may be little more than a temporary conglomeration of people slung together in East London, meaningless and powerless, and he the world’s most powerful man, but, I think, when you criticize someone, you’ve gotta give them the right to reply. So here is Donald Trump, President of the United States of America, with his right to reply. I watched Russell Brand on television the other night. What the hell was Katy Perry thinking when she married this guy? What a loser he is. I like him. I don’t know if it’s since I’ve become a father. I see his red face, his big cheeks, all grumpy and that, I think. “Ah, he’s probably teething. Pop him on the tit, he’ll be right as rain.” I met him, before that, obviously. I met him in that tower of his. I went round to his tower. I had to wait, just outside that office there, for a couple of hours, presumably while the fucking hairdresser or whatever constructed, expertly, that fucking thing on his head, which I think of as being like the ghost of Shredded Wheat. Not even Shredded Wheat that’s alive now. Shredded Wheat that’s passed over to the ethereal realm, then remembered it’s got some unfinished business here on earth, maybe a quarrel with a Frostie. This is gonna blow your mind. ‘Cause when you meet Donald Trump, he’s nice. Yeah? He’s all right. People always say that about bogus historical figures, don’t they? Like Hitler. “No, he was all right, Hitler. He was vegetarian. He was nice to his dog.” You might wanna look at the bigger picture. But he were pretty, like, sweet to me. Like, after I’ve done the proper interview on camera, he goes to me, “I like you. I like you. You’re a good guy. Come with me.” Right? I was like, “This is weird.” He took me to this office here, that he’s depicted in, in this image, and, uh, there’s all them certificates and that on the wall… Fuck knows what them certificates are for. He must be a fucking good swimmer. “Fifty meters. 75 meters. They’re all goin’ on the wall, all of ’em. Put ’em up. Put ’em up. Don’t get it wet!” He takes me to his office and when everyone else is gone, he says to me, “I like you. Pick any one thing you choose from this office, any one thing, and take it home with you.” I thought, “What’s this mind game, Willy Wonka bullshit?” I’m not Charlie Bucket. I’m not Augustus Gloop. Don’t try and nonce me up, you Wonka cunt. [cheering] But he had some good shit in there. He had Muhammad Ali’s Heavyweight Championship belt on the fucking wall. I thought, “Ugh. I’ve always wanted that. This might be my only chance. I’ll have that, Donald, will I? I’ll have Muhammad Ali’s belt. I’ll fucking wear it on the train. Fucking offer people out and that. ‘Yeah, come on then!'” I love fighting talk. Don’t you love fighting talk? It’s good stuff, isn’t it? “Come on then, you fucking mug.” I’m very good at fighting talk. Very good. “Yeah, you fucking mug. You fucking want some?” But it is a risky strategy to do it in the wrong place. You might go, “Come on, you mug.” He’ll go, “Come on then, you fucker!” “No, no, I was bluffing. I was having a bit of fun. Don’t want any actual fisticuffs.” Really good stuff. That. Shaquille O’Neal’s shoe. Everyone’s got one of those. Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Putin’s phone number. Little tiny gloves. I just took a pen in the end. It was getting fucking confusing. “I’ll just have a pen, mate.” Give him a psychological advantage, innit? I’ve got my own stuff at home, know what I mean? Should have took his Elnett and hairdryer, that’d slow him down. Or one single hair, strategically plucked, and the whole structure would tumble like Jenga. Phwhooosh! “Argh!” Anyway, these excursions, these liaisons, these brushes with power made me recognize that I needed to educate myself about how geopolitics works, how power interacts, how we are continually castrated and ignored. How does it operate? Where is it? Where are the powerful? If it isn’t where it seems to be, where is it? So, I done this documentary with this geezer Michael Winterbottom, called Emperor’s New Clothes, in which Michael Winterbottom explained how, globally, the financial industries have robbed ordinary people of publicly built assets that their endeavors, labors and taxes built and paid for. Nicked ’em and sold ’em back to ’em in a heist of such scale that it’s invisible because its borders lie beyond the horizons of our mind. So, part of this documentary, I go and interview this woman -in Basildon near where I’m from, Essex. -Whoo! She’s working in a hospital. You only cheer Basildon ’cause you ain’t fucking there now. And this woman, sure enough, lives in a glum place, you know? And even though she’s got a full-time job, working for the NHS, contributing to society, she’s having to use food banks to supplement her life. So, I’m interviewing her about this, you know? Now, during the interview… [sighs] I made a mistake. All right? I was a bit hungry. And I mentioned it. You know like when you’re hungry, and you might just say it? “I’m hungry!” I said it. “I’m hungry!” She went, “Do you want somethin’ to eat, darlin’?” And I thought, “Oh, fuck! Fuck!” I went, “No. No. No. No! I’m leaving. I’m leaving now, anyway.” “You can take some food with ya.” Like a nan! It got to the point, I was like, “No,” and she was, “Go on, have it.” And it’s becoming rude. You know the axis of no-rudeness axis? It flipped. So I went, “Yeah, all right.” “What do you want? Some soup?” I went, “Yeah, okay.” She went in the kitchen to get the soup. She came back. It was in a bag. Like a blood bag. Like a drip with soup in it. I said, “Thank you for that.” I didn’t say, “Thank you for that bag of soup,” ’cause I didn’t want to hear myself say it, ’cause it’s not a thing, is it? I said, “Thank you for that,” and I took it and I went outside, and I got into a chauffeur-driven car, with a bag of soup that I’d just took off a woman, who I was interviewing about how poor she was, like some fucked-up, Robin Hood pervert who steals food from poor people for himself. She was fucking poorer when I left her than when I got there. [cheering and applause] Sat in the back of the car with me bag of soup, I thought, “Russell… I don’t think you’re fucking helping, mate.” Got back to my flat and there’s a man outside, and he says, “I’m from the Daily Mail,” but he needn’t have bothered ’cause he looked like a pig, in a wig, in a mac. “I’m from the Daily Mail.” [oinking] “What do you think you’re doing, talking about inequality and alliances between people?” [oinking] “You’ve got a job. You’ve got a house.” [oinks] “What business is it of yours?” And I felt a wrath rise up in me. The lower chakras stirred and the serpent rise up, a deep anger and fury of oppressed people from across the world for millennia surging through my body and I thought, “Fuck this guy. Fuck this shit. Fuck this situation. This is a bullshit situation.” But then another voice in my head, and there’s always at least two, said, “No, Russell. This is not a bad situation. This is a good situation. This is the perfect situation, because you have got… a bag of soup and a total cunt.” And, ladies and gentlemen, there was something about this man’s demeanor that suggested to me that he thought he was gonna live his whole life without ever having had a bag of soup thrown over him. “I’ll never have a bag of soup thrown over me. People don’t have bags of soup on them, do they? They don’t just have a bag of soup concealed in their jackets because they’re embarrassed that they took it. It’s not going to happen, is it? In fact, now that I reflect, bags of soup don’t even conceptually exist, do they? So, they’re not gonna travel from the realm of the unmanifest into the membrane of the real just to punish me with soupy Schadenfreude. Ergo, I’m safe to spread hate among people that are slightly different from one another.” [cackles] I snapped that reality like a fucking pencil. The problem was… the way that I threw the bag of soup over him. Throwing a bag of soup over somebody, that’s not proper violence, is it? That’s cartoon violence. That’s Bugsy Malone, custard-pie-in-face, kick-up-the-bum violence. Where I was all full of wrath and indignation, I done it like it was the last reel of a Quentin Tarantino film. I done it like I was Tony Montana, Scarface. [yells] “Motherfucker! Say hello to my bag of soup!” Soup went through the air in slow motion. I think it hit him, his head went back like JFK. He’s all bewildered, put his hand in it, and went, “What is that? Curry?” Daily Mail to the fucking end. It takes some fucking going to be racist about the food that gets thrown on you, don’t it? “Hey! That job could have been done by some English food. A Cumberland sausage. A slice of game pie. Spotted dick and custard.” You’ve gotta admire the fundamentalism that lurks invisible and unseen, the invisible faith, the true religion. And it made me think about my own values. What do I believe in? Is it enough to just care about community and compassion and kindness? Or is there an entry price on who’s allowed to be involved in the organisation of power in our societies, and certain people aren’t permitted? I’m thinking about this stuff, I’m bowling round East London. I see these women, protesting with placards. They see me. “Oi! Russell Brand. Come over here. We’re all getting turfed out of our homes. Turning ’em into luxury flats. We’re all gonna be made homeless. You gonna help us out or what?” I said, “Yeah.” Mostly ’cause I weren’t fucking listening, and I couldn’t imagine it ever actually happening. But it was a commitment of a kind. So, these women are organizing a campaign, trying to save their homes. They put an online petition together. Hundreds of thousands of signatures are garnered. A march is organized to leave from Trafalgar Square. Thousands attend, going all the way to Downing Street. I don’t know if you’ve been to Downing Street, or any place of political power, but they’re eerie places to go to. I don’t know if you understand the word “simulacrum.” It means an image that’s been repeated so many times that it loses its connection to its original meaning. And Downing Street’s a freaky place. It seemed like there ain’t no power there, like a movie set or a theme park. Something spooky and creepy. You go through airport security. Keys in the tray. Beep! Me and the three women enter. There’s a throng of media representatives there. Someone comes over. “We need someone to talk to the media from your campaign.” Who’s it gonna be? One of these three women, that live and breathe the campaign, understand it down to their marrow, live it, breathe it, fight for it, would die for it? Or old Russ? A man who could talk his way out of a room with no doors. “Step aside, ladies, I’ll handle this for ya.” That was me first mistake. You can see I look nervous from the get-go. Now, I don’t know if this was because I was letting the ego lead in a situation where the soul should have been central, but something went very wrong with me that day, and when that man asked me, “What are you doing, involved with this campaign? What business is it of yours? You’ve got a job. You’ve got a house.” Instead of spraying him down with an enfilade of brilliant lyrics, fucking him up and splatting him down and putting him on his back, I get all flustered and confused, and try and win the confrontation just by responding quickly. I mean, part of the problem is the super-rich buying property in London, isn’t it? -How much did you pay for your place? -It’s rented. “It’s rented.” Like I’m playing fucking snap. But my mind was blank. I couldn’t think of anything clever or funny to say. All I could think was… [groans] “I shouldn’t have worn this scarf today. It’s very itchy. And I wish I had a fucking bag of soup with me.” -But, like– -What kind of rent are you paying? I’m not interested in talking to you about my rent, mate. The hand is on. Because the mind is empty, and devoid of a coherent strategy. I’m trying to fuck him up with Reiki jujitsu. I’m on the ropes. I’m in trouble. I’m embarrassed. But if you listen very carefully, in this next clip, just off camera, you can hear the sound of my salvation. Blessedly, I can afford rent. I stand up for people that can’t. [woman] At least Russell helps people. “At least Russell helps people.” That’s the voice of Lindsey, one of the women that’s leading the campaign. She’s looked over and thought, “Oh, no, Russell’s fucking this right up.” But there’s a problem. Lindsey is a well brought-up working person, and she thinks of the television as a special place, a sacred place, where you’ve gotta mind your Ps and Qs, where you can only go on with an invitation, like it’s a room that you keep for a vicar on a Sunday. Watch me solve that problem for her. David Cameron isn’t. At least Russell Brand’s actually… “Get on that fucking television!” Like she’s a human shield. You can see I’m in a complex place, emotionally, at this point. I’m still angry about how bad the argument’s been going, but I’m beginning to sense that Lindsey’s presence might mean that the worm has turned. “Aaah! You thought you’d won, didn’t you, little man? But it seems I’ve brought the white working class with me.” …however big his house is, -helping ordinary people… -Yeah. If the media… -Is David Cameron prepared to do that? -…didn’t turn on people– -I’m not– -No, you’re telling her… She’s winning, but I won’t shut the fuck up. That’s like if you was losing in a five-a-side football match, and Lionel Messi just materialized on the sideline. “Don’t worry, Russell. I will take it from here.” “No, you’re all right, Lionel. I’ll have a go. I’ve got my kicky boots on now. Man on! Man on!” Now it’s just like some people arguing at a jumble sale. Is David Cameron prepared to come out of his big house and help us? He isn’t, is he? But Russell Brand has. Thank God there is people like him, who’s prepared to step out and help people like us. [cheering and applause] Yeah. Yeah, that… that bit is just in to make me look good. I’d say I don’t need that applause, but I think, at this point, it’s pretty clear that I fucking live for it. Note that at this point in the confrontation, I’ve resorted to trying to kill this geezer with the power of my mind. “Eeeeee!” Like General Zod out of Superman, or Uri Geller trying to bend his head open like a spoon. [sighs] But there was an important lesson available for me there, if I’d been open-minded enough to learn it, ’cause, you see, Lindsey, if you was to look at her life on a bit of paper, if she was to fill in a form and tell you who she is and what she does, let me tell you what you’d read. Single mum. Public sector worker. Minimum wage. In the eyes of the powerful, pfft, nobody. But what is Lindsey in reality? What is Lindsey in this moment? She is a hero. She is able to control an argument with a trained media professional, continually bringing it back to the salient points. Not getting distracted by bullshit and ephemera. She’s somehow able to handle the fragile ego of the celebrity immediately to her left. She is also able to lead a campaign of 93 families against commercial developers, the Corporation of London and the Mayor of London himself, and let me tell you, those families kept their homes. -[cheering] -Because that’s what happens… When people come together in pursuit of a common idea, there is great power. So, I suppose, the lesson was, “Russell. Shut the fuck up.” But, as you will see from the next clip, that is not the lesson that I learned. I learned a much more superficial lesson, like, “Ooh! Lindsey’s doing ever so well with this Cockney accent she’s doing. I think I’ll conduct the rest of this argument in the personality of EastEnders star Danny Dyer!” Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here today. We wouldn’t have 300,000 signatures. We would have been kicked out and booted out of London, so thank God– Yeah, snides like you, mate, undermine it. You’re a snide. “You’re a snide.” [sings EastEnders theme tune] Now, for the moment my mate Matt tells me is the stupidest thing that’s ever happened outside Downing Street in British political history. The scene of Winston Churchill’s great oratory. The scene of Thatcher’s distraught tears. In this moment, reduced to this, by me. -You’re a snide. -[Lindsey chuckles] -Let’s do one. -Let’s go. “Yeah, let’s do one! Fuck it, you mug!” Might as well have kicked a fucking bin over. “Waaaah! “Yeah, you might wanna dial down the working class a little bit.” “Right, get the dogs in the back of the fucking van!” Look, even the Old Bill’s laughing. Maybe a week later, David Cameron stood outside that famous front door and gave the same speech victorious leaders always give when they are returned to power. A speech where if you were to take what they were saying verbatim and trust ’em, everything would be OK. “We’re gonna build a better country, opportunities for everyone, protect our public institutions, look after the vulnerable, reward people that are hardworking.” One of the main things that I learned from my investigation into the world of politics is when they’re saying that stuff, they know it’s bullshit. Someone just gives them it, they say it. It’s bullshit, right? Now… We know it’s bullshit as well, innit? When you’re watching on the television, you don’t go, “Fucking hell. Have you seen the news? Everything’s gonna be all right.” Do you? You just tune it out, as bullshit. Well, let me tell you something that startled and worried me a little bit. They know that you know it’s bullshit. [shudders] I don’t like that. That’s macabre. That’s eerie. That means we’re in a bullshit vortex, and I hate fucking vortexes. And I think the reason we’ve found ourselves in this situation is we have allowed our language to insidiously become the international lingua da bullshit, ’cause we’re surrounded by it the whole fucking time. Invisibly, capitalist consumerism has become our faith and what takes place, we intuitively know, in the political sphere is a kind of theater, when real power is concealed, when real changes aren’t made, not unless people are willing to come together. We intuitively know it because we live it and we breathe it, and we see it on every screen that surrounds us. Their slogans, their logos, their prayers and mantras. The ridiculous pledges of our time that we buy into with our phones and our clothes, our willingness to dress in the robes of this faith, and to sort of… buy into its slogans as well, which are worth taking a moment to have a fucking look… I know you know this stuff already. I know you know already, but it’s just worth having a look at it, you know, for a bit of a laugh, hey? I mean, this one. [sighs] L’Oréal. “Because you’re worth it.” Worth what? Washing your own fucking hair? “I’m worth this. I’m worth this foam.” Rimmel. “Get the London look.” What? Tired, with extortionate rent? Müller. “Lick the lid of life.” Oh! You dirty cunts. Always Ultra. “Rewrite the rules.” How do you rewrite the rules of a sanitary towel? Stick it up your arse? This one here, Maybelline. ♪ Maybe it’s Maybelline ♪ “It fucking better be Maybelline. I just paid for Maybelline, you cunt.” By the time it gets to “Strong and stable,” “Yes we can,” “Make America great,” you just tune it out ’cause you’re surrounded by bullshit the whole time, the noxious cloud of empty, insipid language, you don’t expect no meaning. I’d rather they turned up at that famous front door, give us a little bit of truth one day. “Hi, I’m still in power and I’ll always be in power ’cause you’ll always do what you’ve always done, blame other people that are basically the same as you for things that only powerful people and institutions can ever change. So, fuck Muslims. Fuck Jews. Fuck the working class. Fuck the middle class. Fuck the disabled. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. Thanks for your votes. See you in four years.” At least there’d be a kind of honesty to it, something a little appealing and truthful. That’s why I think Donald Trump is so successful. I’m telling you, there’s something very authentic about that man. I mean, the geezer seems like a cunt, but I don’t think he’s putting it on. [cheering] Where do we go, then, for truth? Where do we go, then, for trust? Where do I turn to for something I can believe in? If you don’t remember it from politics or culture, don’t you remember it from your own life? Don’t you? Wasn’t it there, somewhere in your past? Something real that you could feel? What number do I have to dial? Who do I have to call? Oh, one, eight, one, five. Nine, three, six, three, seven, four. Brrrpt, brrrpt. Brrrpt, brrrpt. “Hello?” All right, Nan? “You all right, Russ? You hungry?” Yeah, I am hungry, Nan, as a matter of fact. “What do you want, soup?” No, stop, please. “Salad?” Oh, yeah. Yeah, all right. I’ll have a salad. Thank you. “All right. Tomato. Cucumber. Lettuce. Salad.” It’s not a salad anymore, Nan. “Oh, no, you’re right, of course. Here you go. Heinz salad cream. Here you go, boy.” That’s not a salad, Nan. Now, a salad’s got artichokes in it, and avocados and little capers and little sun-dried tomatoes and fresh tomatoes so the fresh tomatoes can see the sun-dried tomatoes and know what their future’s gonna be like, Nan. And balsamic vinegar, Nan! Reduced! They reduce it! Like thick, black snakes of smack on a tinfoil page, Nan. “Well, I’ll have a look in the fridge, darlin’, but I don’t think I’ve got any in.” Where are you, Nan? “I’ve gone, in’t I, boy?” [whispers] Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. So, who am I talking to now? “You’re just talking to yourself. In front of a few people. Make some kind of connection to what’s real. A time that felt like it had truth to it, and connection.” Oh, yeah. So, you’re not my real nan, then? “No, darling, no. I’m not real. You’ve already made me about 20 percent more working class than I actually was in an attempt to curry favor with a mainstream audience.” Shut up, Nan. “Oi! Don’t talk to me like that. I’ll send Bad Nan out.” Oh, no. Not Bad Nan. Fuck that. What have they done? What have they done to our communities? What have they done to our values? What have they done to our nans? What have we become? Where did we let it go? What’s happened to us? That may have been a small campaign in East London. A few people, a few women. Ordinary people just sticking together, standing up for their rights, in one corner of a once-powerful nation. And yet, this campaign was considered important enough to be covered on Fox News. What could it be about that campaign that would warrant this particular attention? SHOULD YOU CARE? The first story, which is… I mean, why we even talk about this man, actually, is a question. Yeah, why do you? Why don’t you leave me the fuck alone? What is it exactly that makes you pull up this image of me here, holding this sign, on a program called Should You Care? and only, may I say, on Fox News could you have a show called Should You Care? with the implication being, “No! Not unless it fucking affects you directly. Shut your fucking mouth.” He is protesting, quote, “greedy developers,” right? In London. But a “greedy developer” developed the apartment building he lives in. -Right– -Not only that, uses a tax haven– Did you hear what they just said? The landlord of the flat I was renting uses a tax haven. How the fuck am I meant to know that? Is that the kind of question you ask, when you rent a new flat? “Do I have to pay the whole deposit? Does the washing machine work? Can I bring my cat? You’d better not be using a fucking tax haven!” -The Hollywood hypocrisy continues. -Exactly. Uh, you know, he is paid by Hollywood corporations to loaf around. I’m not paid by Hollywood corporations to loaf around. Sadly. I’m paid by Hollywood corporations to play a thinly-veiled version of myself with a hat on. And let me tell you, them parts have fucking dried up lately. …to loaf around and basically attack capitalism, when he should be attacking North Korea. Ooh! I mean, it’s a… It’s a little bit of an ask, innit? I mean, they still ain’t given up nuclear weapons just yet. Old Ru… “Oh no! General, quick! Coming over the horizon, look. It’s the geezer out of Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” “Oh, Jesus! I think he’s got a bag of soup on him.”
Perhaps the reason that Fox News deemed this local news to be of relevance is because it tells us something very important. That change is not only likely but somehow inevitable because the structures and stories that hold society together take place on the level of consciousness, and consciousness can be changed in any moment. It’s a story, and we can construct stories ourselves, if we choose. And change on the level of individual consciousness can happen in a moment and I know this on a personal level, and I hope it don’t sound trite to you, because I experienced change in a moment, in a flash. A big change from not father to father, in the time It took an NHS midwife to say, “Here, have a relative.” “Fucking hell! I can’t deal with the ones I’ve got!” It happens too quickly, by the way, that transition into fatherhood. Bit too radical. It should happen in installments, no? “There’s a foot. If you can look after that, come back next week, we’ll give you the rest of the baby.” Like them magazines where you build a Tyrannosaurus rex over six months. Don’t give me a whole Tyrannosaurus rex. I’ll fuck it up. There I am, saddled with it, a nipper, basically a single parent. My missus was no use. Could barely walk for some reason. Best idea I have, is getting on my phone and googling, “How do you bring up a baby?” That is what it came to. That is what I had to resort to. Siri as a fucking co-parent. Thank fuck for swaddling. You know swaddling? Where you wrap a baby up real tight in a blanket? I am a master swaddler ’cause of my skinning up skills from time. I swaddled that baby up into the perfect cone. It was all I could do not to blaze her up and smoke her. Then I leave the hospital, with a person. A human being, a new one, just in the fucking car. And I’m a chauffeur, not just to her but to every conception of God that you can imagine. Krishna, Allah, Yahweh, Jehovah, every single god you can conceive of, there in the back of the car, along with the realization that every single person in the world was a baby, and no subsequent category that could be applied to you, or you could apply to yourself, can ever usurp that truth. You are a baby. “I’m French.” “You’re a baby.” “I support Spurs.” “Baby.” Everyone, a fucking baby. Everyone in this room, babies. Babies everywhere you look. Babies. Babies! I’m thinking this as I’m driving the car with my little baby in it. “Fucking hell. Babies everywhere I go. Babies! That man at the bus stop. He’s a baby. That homeless geezer was a baby. This person crossing the road’s a baby. Babies! Babies!” I thought to myself, “Russell, you should not have smoked that dog tramadol in the waiting room. It’s fucking with your perspective at an important moment. It’s definitely a relapse. Plus, the dog’s in a lot of pain now. Done his half ages ago.” And now, I’m a father. Now the father ain’t the beginning of a prayer, it’s the person I see in the mirror. And what do I, in this role, teach my daughter about how to cope in this baffling, perplexing, confusing world, as the old ideas and structures crumble around us? There’s no one knows what truth is anymore. Religions fade, politics falls apart. Stories, threads, narratives. My little girl. What am I gonna tell her? This kid that will one day, inevitably, walk off without me into a future that I won’t be there to see. And when she turns back to look at me, I’ll be gone. That’s the deal. More immediately, how do I explain to her, “Oi, you. Don’t talk about the fucked-up shit we talk about in this house out there in the fucking world. You’ll get us all put away. Keep that shit to yourself!” [high-pitched voice] “Hey! Nothing’s real! It’s all an illusion! Fuck the state! Fuck the system! The Queen’s a lizard!” “Ooh! I don’t know where she’s picked that up from, officer. Really, I don’t. Watching Peppa Pig, probably. It’s made by the Illuminati, you know.” Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll leave you now, and I’ll leave you with this thought. I heard fathers say, before the birth of their first child, “Oh, I never knew such love was in me.” But I always knew this love was in me, but before I saw her, I didn’t know what to do with it. Now I do. To create, along with you, a world in which she can grow up to be as strange as she wants to be. And more importantly, to make her laugh. And this, at least, I hope I’ve done for you tonight. Thank you.
♪ Where’s your head at? ♪ ♪ Where’s your head at? Where’s your head at? ♪ ♪ Where’s your head at? ♪ ♪ Where’s your head at? Where’s your head at? ♪ ♪ Where’s your head at? ♪ ♪ Where’s your head at? Yeah! Where’s your head at? ♪ ♪ Was it that? ♪ ♪ Ooh! ♪ ♪ Ooh! ♪ ♪ Go, go, go ♪ ♪ You have now found yourself ♪ ♪ Trapped in the incomprehensible maze ♪ Where’s your head at? ♪ ♪ You’ll know how to be ♪ Where’s your head at? ♪ Where’s your head at? ♪ You don’t make it easy on yourself ♪