* 'Brand X' is first U.S. TV project for British comedian
* Show features comedian in front of live audience
* Brand says only one subject is off limits
By Jill Serjeant
LOS ANGELES, June 28 He's played an
out-of-control rocker in Hollywood movie "Get Him to the Greek"
and a drunken playboy in "Arthur," but in his first U.S.
television show, Americans will see raucous British comedian
Russell Brand as they haven't before - doing stand-up.
Brand returns to his roots in new show "Brand X," a
late-night, once-a-week program debuting on the FX network on
Thursday. It shows off the comedian's sexually charged humor, as
well as his more serious take on spirituality, consumerism and
celebrity culture in front of a live audience.
"I love doing stand-up because you have a direct interaction
with the audience. There is no mediation, no script, no
direction. It is my great love. What is it other than telling
the truth to human beings that are identical to me?" Brand told
Inspired by topical events and filmed in a small,
nightclub-like studio north of Los Angeles four days ahead of
broadcast, "Brand X" finds the ex-husband of pop singer Katy
Perry in reflective and provocative form.
No target is off limits for the 37-year-old, whose discourse
in Thursday's first episode begins with an account of his recent
meeting with the Dalai Lama (Brand is an ardent disciple of
transcendental meditation) and takes in Charlie Sheen,
circumcision, Mel Gibson, Oprah Winfrey, oral sex, the media,
Nietzsche, capitalism and hiccups in under 30 minutes.
Audience participation and off-the-cuff mockery also play a
part in the show that the FX basic cable network says brings "an
unmistakably irreverent attitude" to its late-night programming.
"The main thing I am interested in is the difference in the
way information is portrayed and the truth behind that
information," Brand said of his themes.
"If you read a news story and it is clearly biased and
designed to elicit a certain reaction, who benefits from that
reaction?" he added.
Brand made his name in his native England around 10 years
ago, starting in comedy clubs and moving to radio, TV and award
shows. Using his own history as a drug, alcohol and sex addict,
he courted controversy (and lost several jobs) through his jokes
The British comedian says FX has placed no restrictions on
his act. Although the TV show contains some language bleeps and
edits, one-liners about Oprah Winfrey ('Here she is! Arms out in
a crucifix!'), as well as penises and microphones, remain.
"I would never like to hurt a person's feelings. But other
than that, no, nothing is off limits," said Brand.
He said Americans probably think of him as "that bloke out
of those films (who) seems to be presented through the
mainstream media as relatively edgy within the safe confines of
the homogenized entertainment industry."
As for what US audiences will think after watching "Brand
"I imagine they will say, he is quite warm and sweet. But
chaotic," he said.
FX, which is owned by News Corp's Fox Entertainment Group,
has ordered six initial episodes of "Brand X."