Wednesday, 15 February 2012
That one time I thought I was Russell Brand.
Quite a snappy title, innit? I liked it. Oh yes, the story. Well, we all have idols. We all have those celebrities that we hold as a paragon of virtue, that what they say is gospel and to whom we feel we can relate to much easier than, say, people we actually know personally. Very rarely do we actually think we are a celebrity. Well ok, that's slightly misleading. I didn't think I was Russell Brand, but there was a time I made quite an effort in trying to replicate his every mannerism and incorporate his own little quirks into my personality. I think I was about 16.
It all started when I re-watched Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2007. I had seen it when it first came out but on second viewing, it had a much more profound effect on me. For the uninitiated of you, BFQOTY is an annual quiz show featuring teams of celebrities battling against each other to see which celebrity knows most about the past year's events shown in the last week of December. It's a very flippant show, more Mock the Week than an actual quiz. In 2007, one of the celebrity duos featured were the Goth Detectives comprised of the Mighty Boosh's Noel Fielding and one Russell Brand. The other teams were strong and quite funny. They amused me. But the Goth Detectives entranced me. Noel Fielding was the junior member of the terrible twosome. He liked to convey a sort of dopey and innocent image of himself on BFQOTY. He was hilarious. The other member of the Goth Detectives....
Russell Brand. Fuck, even his name sounds like he was born to be famous. It rolls of the tip of your tongue and the name 'Brand' especially conjures up visions of glamour. Watching him on BFQOTY was a personal and comedic revolution for me. Everything he was in that 90 minutes of programming, I wanted to be. He was charming, he was witty, he was mirthful. Visually, Russell Brand is an anomaly. As a socially frustrated 15 year old, who constantly saw himself as different from his peers but with no outlet to express this individuality, I wanted to have Russell Brand's demeanour. Well, not literally. I wanted my own one but as wacky and as aesthetically pleasing as Russell's. I couldn't imagine myself growing my hair to the same length as his or cultivating a beard akin to his lovely, plush face-scarf but I wanted his effulgent individuality.
In a comedic sense, I copied Russell too. Honestly, I tried my darndest to be him. I fastidiously watched clips of him attempting to learn each of his idiosyncrasies no matter how subtle or seemingly insignificant. For instance, I tried to learn how he always cocked his head forwards just as he was about to answer a question in a humourous manner. I didn't try to imitate his voice for my cockney accent is notoriously poor but I did try and incorporate mannerisms of his speech into my thick Kerry accent. Imitating the way he broke up sentences by wildly overstating the word 'but' was one of my favourite tricks. These tactics worked well. I soon became known as someone who could make someone laugh and a lot of it was down to Russell. Sure, any joke or insult I made was mine but the content is only half the beauty of the joke. Delivery was key and my delivery of jokes was my imitation of Russell Brand.
His former hedonistic lifestyle did not deter me either for I saw Russell Brand as a genuinely good man. An ordinary person's relationship with a celebrity is a peculiar thing. Chances are, Russell Brand wouldn't particularly like me if we were to meet or vice-versa, but I have some sort of emotional connection to him no matter how superficial it may be. His rebellious attitude enticed me, as did his hyperactive nature. I have always been hyperactive and jumpy which is rather rare. I don't like staying in one spot for too long and I have a short attention span. With the right know-how, you can make people laugh with this hyperactivity. Russell taught me how.
This phase lasted a long time and has deeply affected me. Who I am today, my fashion, my humour, my taste in music, all derive from this period. I don't think I am Russell Brand any more, though I do still love Russell Brand. I see that in my headless pursuit to express my supposed individuality, trying to copy another person (in this case Russell Brand) is a bit of a paradox. How can one be individual if they imitate another person? Seems simple but it took me about a year and half to learn. No one is truly individual, human beings are very impressionable creatures but we each have little quirks that make us who we individually are. If these quirks are perceived as funny, you're in luck.