Russell Brand in New York City

Russell Brand in New York City
With his trademark exposed chest peeking out, Victorian aesthetic and mammoth back comb, comedian Russell Brand is instantly recognizable… to some. Thanks to a scene-stealing turn in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and an infamously disastrous MTV Video Awards hosting gig, he has recently achieved moderate North American infamy. In Comedy Central showcase Russell Brand in New York City, he tells the audience all about it. Early on, the comic proclaims, "I'm famous in England." Subsequently, much of his act is a Russell Brand advertisement and therein lies most of the comedy, although the allure stems less from the jokes themselves than Brand's singular delivery and arresting stage presence. In black and heels, set against a boudoir backdrop, Brand stalks the stage like a goth gazelle, ostensibly and eloquently expounding about, well, Russell Brand. Inherently, he considers the nature of fame while overtly meditating on the aforementioned MTV gig, the Queen, Macaulay Culkin, horseback riding, snowboarding and hobo karma (aka "reciprocal altruism"). Whether doling out vaguely political quips or cunnilingus tips, he progressively quickens the pace and his routine gets better throughout. Brand's eloquence evokes master raconteurs like Quentin Crisp and Sebastian Horsley, and he brandishes it cunningly, creating maelstroms of rhetoric. Occasionally, his cleverness supersedes hilarity, yet he usually manages to sew both together into funny verbal quilts. His charisma carries the act, making even unfunny moments compelling (you can tell by the shots of beaming female audience members). The DVD extras are brief but well rounded, including deleted scenes of hilarious audience interaction, the chill-inducing MTV VA opening monologue (watch it with a pillow covering your face) and an amiable wander through Manhattan. (Paramount)