Page last updated at 09:03 GMT, Monday, 19 January 2009

Brand addicted to Sachs in new show

By Tim Masters
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Russell Brand
Brand's Scandalous show is touring the country until the end of February

Anyone who thought that there was no more to be said about 2008's "Sachsgate" affair had better lock themselves in a darkened room - now.

Russell Brand kicked off his UK stand-up tour in Reading on Sunday night. The former BBC Radio 2 DJ put the media furore over his phone calls to the actor Andrew Sachs at the heart of his routine.

It's a show where Brand is both clearly enjoying the headline buzz he has created but is at the same time utterly bewildered by it all.

"We're like two idiots dancing towards a canyon," is Brand's assessment as he plays the now infamous video of him and Jonathan Ross singing an apology onto the Fawlty Towers star's answering machine.

But what really upsets Brand is that no-one appreciated the rhyming on "consensual" and "menstrual" that he says he "made up on the spot".

Brand's new UK show - titled Scandalous - is starting to tour the country in the same week that Ross resumes his BBC shows after a 12-week suspension.

There was no malice, I just didn't account for people taking it seriously
Russell Brand

Seeing Brand swagger on stage in floppy boots, a tight biker jacket and a little black dress to the tune of AC/DC's Back in Black, the audience is left in no doubt that he isn't here to issue a grovelling apology.

But - to borrow a line from that myth about the male psyche - Brand clearly thinks about Sachs every six seconds.

'I am the news!'

The show's first 25 minutes or so are taken up purely by the Sachs affair, interspersed with Brand showing clips from news bulletins.

"Thank you for coming to see me in a medium in which I still flourish ," he twinkles foppishly.

While Brand seems genuinely surprised by the media storm, he pins much of his behaviour on his "mental illness".

"There was no malice," he says. "I just didn't account for people taking it seriously."

Joanthan Ross and Russell Brand
Ross and Brand both apologised for their behaviour over the incident

One of the biggest cheers of the night is when Brand dances around the stage singing "I am the news!" along to the News At Ten theme.

He points to news footage of himself leaving his house surrounded by photographers: "I look like a bearded hostage."

And then viewing a headline about how an out-of-work Russell Brand lookalike has become "another victim" of the phone call scandal, Brand explodes: "Victim? I'm not Harold Shipman!"

Death threats

Brand brings this part of the show to a climax by reading out posts from The Times website which highlight the absurdity of some of the public reaction. It leads to some surreal flights of fantasy as Brand acts out scenarios suggested for him by apoplectic readers.

The evening is not just about Sachsgate, but there is an over-arching theme about how the media and public have reacted to Brand's unique style.

Nowhere is this funnier than when he recounts his experiences as a host at the MTV Music Video Awards. His jokes about George W Bush and the Jonas Brothers bombed in the US and made global headlines.

There were a few death threats too, which the comedian duly reads out.

"My personality doesn't work without fame," says Brand in a flash of self-awareness, before launching into an anecdote about meeting Britney Spears and an elephant.

As stand-up gigs go, this is about as ego-centric as they come. And with what's happened to Brand in the past few months, the show feels like it wrote itself.

Brand must be hoping for a less headline-grabbing 2009.

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