Roughly 30 minutes into his single performance Friday night at Mandalay Bay Theater, Russell Brand deviated from his script. Or did he, really? Was there a script at all?
Brand improvises frequently and whimsically, but the quick, innuendo-laden response to the cries of a few female fans may well have been written before the show and swiftly memorized by Brand.
In any event, the moment in reference: Brand began recounting his stint as host of the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, when Kanye West’s onstage interruption of Taylor Swift’s Best Female Video Award honor dominated the program. A few women screamed at Brand during this bit, and he stopped suddenly. The break in pattern was tinged with the “adult content” promised in signs of Brand hanging in the hotel, a concept he mocked throughout the show. He veered off-topic, calling out:
“Thank you! Thank you, you screaming banshees! You estrogen-fueled, wild, wild women! Ah, how I’d like to please you all! Up and down that Strip, connected by a rod of flesh! Communicating in orgasmic cries! Splitting the desert night sky of this neon scar on the face of God with orgasmic shrieking! Bugsy Siegel’s dream becomes our nightmare!”
Some in the audience might have gotten lost at “neon scar,” but that seemed fine with Brand, working at his own tempo and even asking an audience member close to the stage for the time so he could hustle off-stage at the one-hour mark. Mostly, Brand loped around the stage, wearing torn black jeans, bleached white or brand new Chuck Taylors and a sleeveless Def Leppard T-shirt. He put on an as-expected roller-coaster show, at times venturing into the audience (stretching his uncommonly long mic cord to its limit) in an attempt to address his fans face-to-face. Some of the finer moments:
Referring to the outsized Mandalay Bay Theater stage: “This is where 'Lion King' is normally! It is! I’ve been in Mufasa’s dressing room! That’s where I changed, staring at the mirror, ‘You are my son!’ I feel pretty pumped now, thanks to those bloody hyenas.” He then left the stage, returning while lugging a giant mask from the production. “What is this? A buffalo? A wildebeest? Well done! Wildebeests, they never do too well in documentaries, do they? ‘Here is the wildebeest! He’s going to get (screwed) over pretty soon!’ ”
On his status of a married man in Las Vegas: “I think, for the evening, given that we are in Vegas tonight, I should take off my wedding ring for the remainder of the show (he then slipped the ring from his finger and tucked it in his left front pocket).” He then called for the house light to be activated. “Just briefly, while the lights are up, I want to choose a few sexual partners! I need to get closer! I’ve made some terrible mistakes in the past!”
Unwittingly, Brand missed a shot at an encounter with fellow Brit Tracey Gittins, one of the dancers in the adult revue “Fantasy” at Luxor. He blew right past her as she sat on the aisle. A missed opportunity. For comedy, at least.
On the act of sexual self-gratification: “I’ve tried to dispense with it, as an activity. … I don’t like it. It’s undignified. I don’t like doing things where a human doing it is indistinguishable from a chimpanzee doing it. You can’t do it in an elegant way. It should be confined to adolescents. It’s not for adult, or married men with a job, prospects and a spiritual life.”
On his growing maturity since he and Katy Perry were married in September: “When I was single, I used to like younger women, 18, 19, 20. Adults, you know? Nobody really young. Nobody has to worry. You don’t have to make a phone call. I’m not going to build a fairground in my garden.”
On his absence of appreciation for the “Twilight” movie series during his VMA hosting stint in 2008, when his interruption of Robert Pattinson onstage rankled “Twilight” fans: “I don’t know much about ‘Twilight,’ right? So when they said (using a dull American accent), ‘Hey Russell, we need you to introduce the guys from ‘Twilight.’ I thought, ‘What? Twilight?’ I thought it was a breakfast cereal. They were talking about it like it was very important. ‘The Twilights are here! So be very careful!’ But it was the first time I’d ever heard of it. I didn’t know it existed. Robert Pattinson, he’s like super-important. They introduced me, ‘Russell, this is Robert Pattinson.’ I was like, ‘Which one? I don’t know!’ But to someone who is between the ages of 12 and 20, he is super important! He’s like Elvis! But I don’t know the context, and if you were to go to me, like (using a dull Bulgarian accent), ‘This is Bulgaria’s No. 1 pop sensation, Shizmet! Russell, you want meet Shizmet?” Wow! Shizmet! … I don’t even know if there is a Shizmet. I might have just invented him.”
Late in the show, Brand pulled from a stack of local publications, including the Friday Sun. My column about him was in that issue, but he dropped the pub to the floor as he was actually attempting to find ads for escorts. It was another missed opportunity.
I don’t know for what, but it would have been different.