As a fan of The Trews who is also familiar with Russell Brand’s previous acts, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Trew World Order. Would it be a politically charged fight against the media or the usual controversial style of comedy unique to the award-winning comedian? The old school rock blaring through the Grand Arena’s sound system almost convinced me that an iconic British rock star would mount the stage instead, but soon enough I was brought back to reality.
The show was opened by Mr Gee, a politically articulate British poet who performed three poems, tackling issues of body image, the environment and love, with captivating words.
Then Brand began his performance by apologising for being late – more than a year late. He was due to perform in South Africa in 2013, but was denied entry because he didn’t have the mandatory number of blank pages in his passport. His apology was followed by an effort to use South African slang (the audience loved it) and a jab at South Africa’s crime statistics (“You’re not an audience. You’re survivors!”).
His controversial style has a political edge, coupled with eccentricity and a hint of narcissism. At the same time Brand is incredibly self-deprecating, repeatedly poking fun at himself and using the video clips and news headlines about him to fuel his jokes. This constitutes the bulk of his humour, with the occasional sexual reference in the mix. And though one might not think of him as an intellectual, based on his early work, his philosophical and political comments on topics such as freedom, individualism, capitalism and awakening our consciousnesses, open you to the deeper workings of his mind.
What surprised me was how interactive Brand was, jumping off the stage to walk through the crowd, allowing random fans to hug him, signing autographs and improvising based on his interactions with the audience. This gave him a down-to-earth appeal that made him all the more likeable.
The audience was in stitches throughout Brand’s performance, seemingly hanging on his every word and all too excited to rush to the stage as the show ended in an attempt to get a piece of him. Trew World Order is significantly funnier than his previous works and while it won’t spark the revolution for a New World Order as he may have hoped, it could possibly be a revolution for comedy.
Russell Brand performed as part of his Trew World Order Tour at the Grand Arena, GrandWest on 3 October 2015