Brand's Messiah Complex is a 'tour de force' and farce
Russell Brand's new stand-up show about society's heroes makes his audience giggle a lot and think a little
What you need to know
Comedian Russell Brand's new stand-up show Messiah Complex is currently touring the UK as part of a world tour. Brand is known for his controversial style of humour, as well as presenting Big Brother's Big Mouth and acting roles in Get Him to the Greek and Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
Messiah Complex is his first UK stand-up show since Scandalous in 2009. It explores the role of hero figures in our culture, from Che Guevara and Gandhi to Malcolm X and Jesus. Brand appears at the Manchester Apollo 10 October, and at the Hammersmith Apollo, London 14-15 October.
What the critics like
This new show is "far more satisfying than Brand's previous stand-up outings", which focused on his stories of narcotic and sexual excess, says Brian Logan in The Guardian. It's great to see arena-level stand-up that asks us to think as well as laugh – but which keeps the laughs front and centre.
The louche Essex dandy is a force of nature, says Julian Hall in The Independent. Russell Brand is clown, philosopher, critic, pundit, lover and cad and his show is refreshingly self-deprecating - "both a tour de force and a tour de farce".
Brand does not cure the sick or make the lame walk, he merely makes his audience "giggle a lot and think a little", says Bruce Desseau in the Evening Standard. When he is good he is extremely good, and even when he is a tiny bit pompous he is still more interesting than most of his comedy contemporaries.
What they don't like
Brand's prepared set was "inclined towards the overly considered rather than the galvanisingly chaotic", says Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph. But even if it was a little less than his scintillating best, he still pulls off the near-miraculous: we laugh, we think, we think as we laugh. ·