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Will Russell Brand’s British invasion finally hit America?

July 15, 2009

British comedian Russell Brand has been talking about invading America for some time. In truth, he’srussell-brand no stranger to American shores, having last year hosted the MTV Video Music Awards and starred in the movie “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” But he has never become as big in the United States as he is in Britain. On Tuesday, MTV announced that Brand would host the cable channel’s awards show again this year, giving the shaggy haired comedian another opportunity to break through with American audiences.

As the New York Times said in a book review this year on Brand’s memoir, the 34-year-old comic is an acquired taste.

“It’s too soon to tell if the comedian Russell Brand will be another of those British exports — like the Arctic Monkeys, Marmite, the comic magazine Viz and the fiction of Angela Carter — that are just too tangy and exotic to make much of an impression on American audiences,” the New York Times reviewer wrote.

“Forgetting Sarah Marshall” made a respectable $105 million at worldwide box offices, but only $63 million of that came from the U.S. and Canada, according to figures from Box Office Mojo. Brand received mixed reviews for his job as host last year of the MTV Video Music Awards, in which he teased the Jonas Brothers about their no sex purity ring and called then President George W. Bush a “retarded cowboy.”  

Brand, who dresses like a rock star and is known for his stream-of-consciousness, foul-mouthed comedy style, is a leading entertainer in the UK as a comedian, columnist and as a television and radio presenter. He still seeks a big breakthrough in the United States and will need more appearances like September’s MTV Video Music Awards to gain name recognition. It’s clear that he wants more U.S. fans. Last year, he told the Los Angeles Times, “… This is an American age, so I have to be able to perform for America.”

Will this latest version of Russell Brand’s British invasion take with American audiences? Or should he stick closer to home?


He’s not to everyone’s taste – no-one can be – but personally I think he’s hugely appealling. I’ve seen him perform live twice and he’s a very very competent stage performer. He works hard and he’s a consummate professional in all that he does – I wish him all the best in the States, I hope he hits the big time. (And yes, I fancy him as well.)

Posted by Louise | Report as abusive

As a “new” Russell fan from NYC, I think he is always entertaining! An intelligent, thought-provoking, amazingly talented man–extremely funny, good actor, and gifted writer of an honest, inspiring book. He is Britain’s greatest export! Hope he has a long and successful career over here.

Posted by Ella Smith | Report as abusive

Russell is adorable. he’s hillarious, insanely intelligent, clever, very quick, original, and of course beautiful :D. he’s an absolute sweetheart and really has overcome a lot and worked hard to get where he is. he deserves all the success in the world now and i hope he gets it!
He’s a brilliant comedian, amazingly talented actor, and a very gifted writer. anyone fan or no who has not read ‘My Booky Wook’ should.

Posted by Amy | Report as abusive

Too tangy for the US? Well, maybe. For some people. But the rest of us are DYING for something tangy & exotic in our dull diet of bland American performers. Bring on the flavour, Russell!

Posted by Mimi | Report as abusive

Russell is one in a million entertainer and if he is successful over here, thats great. If not, it wasnt meant to be, and he will go where he is most loved and appreciated as he is not the type of person to sell-out in order to make it. Thats why we love him.

Posted by Dee | Report as abusive

Too Tangy? More like a breath of fresh, irreverent air. Russell may be new to some, but he’s been grinding around out there for some time, and it’s about time the US slapped itself upside the head and allowed for a much needed British invasion.

Bring it on!

Posted by Nancy | Report as abusive

This guy is extremely funny, sardonic, has incredible improvisational skills, seems honest & open as evidenced by his book (which was hysterically funny) and is above all SMART. Sorry if Hollywood’s fragile ego couldn’t stomach his comments on the MTV awards but they were dead on. America is drowning in its own banality as evidenced by what we have on television. Watch Russell Brand on youtube in “Doing Life Live” and you’ll see a whole new level of brilliance. Along with Led Zeppelin and Ricky Gervais, Russell Brand is proof that Britain produces the best of the best.

Posted by Annie | Report as abusive

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