A few months ago, a “Morning Joe” video clip featuring Russell Brand went viral. I have to admit, I kind of loved it.
I had been aware of Brand before, and found him amusing in films like Leaving Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek. But between that onscreen persona, and possibly the marriage to Katy Perry, I just assumed he was the usual attention grabbing comedian type who was perhaps slightly more clever than Tom Green et al., and that his schtick was that of a foppish, English fool.
I first had an inkling that there might be more to him when I read an interview excerpt about his role in Julie Taymor’s The Tempest (which features Helen Mirren as a gender-swapped Prospero/a, but which I didn’t love as much as I expected to) and was surprised at the intelligence that peeped through that constructed persona of foolery. But, I didn’t think more of it.
Until the Morning Joe clip, when suddenly the mask came off, and the clueless fool became the wise, truthtelling fool–a truly Shakespearean figure (I’m thinking Lear, here and the interplay between the Fool, and Edgar in the guise of a mad fool). After a few too many digs (the interview, which is worth watching, begins with one of the anchors making the dig “Joining us now, he’s a really big deal…. [glancing at other two anchors] I know, I’m told this. I’m not very pop cultured, I’m sorry.” Though she’s not sounding particularly sorry at all, truth be told). Continue reading