Brand X: Why Does America Love Russell Brand?

Making it big in the US is no easy feat for a British comedian and often what’s popular on this side of the pond fails miserably in the States. To take off over there you need the irrepressible charisma and wit of someone like Ricky Gervais, a home-grown talent who now impresses and shocks yanks in equal measure with his risky, hard-boiled observations about Kim Kardashian’s bum.

For many others, a long and unrewarding career starring in invariably awful Hollywood comedies is the way to sustain popularity in the US. This, unremarkably, is what’s been keeping Russell Brand successful for the past few years, along with, of course, his high-profile former marriage to the successful but reprehensibly terrible pop singer and firework Katy Perry.

However, Brand’s popular in the US in his own right, as perhaps the commissioning of his latest US-based current affairs programme Brand X proves. An unscripted and ‘unfiltered’ take on American culture and politics, the show will be coming to Sky Atlantic next month, within days of it’s US premiere on FX. After his appearance as a narcissistic rock star in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, he’s gone from strength to strength, with his eloquently titled autobiography “My Booky Wookyâ€? even entering the New York Times Best Seller List.

That same publication described him as “uniquely hilariousâ€?, although his actual book got a pretty average write up, criticising Brand for the book’s high number of confusing cockneyisms. But generally his reviews from US publications have been good. The Hollywood Reporter has labelled him “utterly irrepressibleâ€?, with the Washington Post calling him, “anything but understated… completely hilariousâ€?.

So what makes Brand such a surprise hit with the yanks? Could it be his pure overly-exaggerated Englishness? His eccentric dress sense? Or do they simply find his comedy exceptionally funny? Admittedly, his sense of humour doesn’t seem like something that would go down particularly well in US, but then again, neither does Billy Connolly, Monty Python and even Gervais, so go figure.

With Brand X, the comedian will be sharing his take on everything from American politics to popular culture. After his controversial comments about George Bush at the VMAs, it could very easily go the way of The Chevy Chase Show. As Brand says himself, “American’s don’t like being told what to think.â€? But it’s more than likely that the programme will advance Brand’s post-Perry career considerably, even if he offends American viewers — and he almost definitely will.

With any luck Brand X (set to air on Sky Atlantic over here) will be better than Brand’s last attempt to dissect American culture: his thoroughly bizarre documentary about Jack Kerouac’s “On the Roadâ€?. And if he wants to establish himself further in the US? Well, he could always pull a Gervais and use his production company to surround himself with long established US comedians. It worked for him..

Brand X will be coming to Sky Atlantic in July..