By: Sloane Hughes
Having performed since the nineties, English comedian Russell Brand is no stranger to the stand-up scene. After gaining attention for his performance at England ‘s New Acts Of The Year Show (or NATYS for short) in 2000, his career quickly took off. Since then he has become a prominent figure in the public eye – not only as a stand-up comic but also as a television host, actor, radio personality, author, and (perhaps most notably over the last decade) activist.
Brand is known for marrying his political activism, personal demons, and spiritual/philosophical views with his sense of humour, making for a unique style of black comedy that really stands apart from the rest – whether that ‘s a good thing or not is up to you. His approach to comedy has garnered him fame and success, but it ‘s also what has often alienated him and acted as a sort of Achilles heel when it comes to his presence in the media.
His latest Netflix special addresses all of this.
He starts off in a characteristically Russell Brand way by diving right into politics, and with a sense of introspection that anyone familiar with his performances will recognize. One of the most refreshing things about Brand is his ability to exhibit his self-awareness without turning it into self-deprecation. He ‘s always been great at addressing his own flaws in such a jovial manner that you can tell he is genuinely just having a fun laugh at himself.
However, his moments of self reflection in Re:Birth feel a little bit different than his other performances. In the past he has called attention to things like his own hypocrisy when it comes to idolizing figures in the media and celebrities, considering that he himself is a celebrity. This time around, though, they feel less grand, less large scale – the things he addresses are small, pinpointed aspects of his personality and specific events, and he takes time to unpack them piece by piece. He ‘s not just critiquing himself as a public figure or based on ambiguous traits, but showing some pretty in depth personal growth and maturity; on this tour and in this special he ‘s premiering a new form of himself.
And this maturity and growth can be attributed to one major development in his life:
Russell Brand is now a father.
There ‘s nothing quite like bringing a new life into the world to make one re-evaluate their outlook on life and on themselves, and that ‘s precisely what we ‘re seeing in Russell. His bit on the birth of his child and new fatherhood bounces back and forth between poetic and beautiful to absolutely absurd in such an incredibly seamless fashion. It ‘s wonderful to see that through all this personal growth and change, one thing that ‘s remained the same is Brand ‘s mastery of comedic timing and talent for blending the profound and the ridiculous.
Re:Birth is truly the perfect title for this special.
His return to stand-up featured the same kind of political and spiritual material we ‘ve come to expect from Russell Brand, and continues to make audiences think critically and deeply as much as he makes them laugh – but as a man and comic who has clearly developed and changed immensely since the last time we saw him.
In short, it ‘s really fucking great.
You can watch the full special here.