I don’t remember when I first became aware of Russell Brand’s existence, but I do remember when Katy Perry married him a few years ago & thinking to myself “Doesn’t she know what he’s like? How could she possibly think marrying him was a good idea?” This is not to say that I’ve ever been a big Katy Perry fan. I’ve nothing against her; I’m just not really into pop music very much, although I will say she does have a great voice & she is definitely gorgeous. In any case, until about a month ago I regarded Russell Brand as one of those silly comedians who would say or do anything for a laugh, had no respect for women, & was just a general idiot. I honestly can’t remember now what triggered me to start researching him a bit more, but what I quickly found is that he isn’t quite the idiot I always thought. Quite the opposite in fact. There’s a lot more to him than meets the eye for sure. Besides anyone who can beat a heroin addiction definitely deserves a second glance. And if he happens to be gorgeous, wickedly funny, & have a delicious British accent . . . Well, I’m not going to lie, that helps a bit too. As I’ve mentioned on here before, people who break stereotypes or somehow prove that they’re a lot more than I initially considered them to be are fascinating to me. So once I started watching some of Brand’s stand-up comedy & YouTube videos (both interviews of him as well as his Trews clips), I quickly decided that I should go straight to the source, so to speak, & read his own books. I just finished the first part of his autobiography My Booky Wook, & it reminded me a lot of Marilyn Manson’s autobiography, which I also recently read, in the sense that it was wickedly humorous but also difficult to read at times due to the blunt descriptions of sex & drug abuse. And yet, as with Manson’s book, I couldn’t stop reading it. It was ridiculously addicting, as I’m sure Booky Wook 2 will also be. (That one is next on my to-read list. I’m just finishing up an Agatha Christie at present, as she is my all-time favorite author.) There is something about such raw honesty that is incredibly compelling to me, perhaps because it is, above all else, REAL. So today I thought I would share some of my favorite quotes from My Booky Wook that demonstrate to me how devilishly clever & perceptive Brand actually is, despite his reputation as a junkie Lothario. I’m not going to edit them (other than to bold my favorite parts) so, yes, there will be cursing. But it’s more fun that way anyway. 😉
- So anyway, I didn’t want to go to that sexual treatment center, but all the do-gooders . . . insisted, & I sort of, kind of agreed. Just to shut everyone up, really, & for the same reason that I finally gave up drink & drugs- because my ambition is the most powerful force within me, so once people convinced me that my sexual behavior might become damaging to my career, I found it easier to think of it as a flaw that needed to be remedied.
- I particularly dislike preordained happy occasions. I don’t mind Christmas so much, because everyone’s involved, as long as they’re Christians or lazy atheists, or Muslim but into tinsel. But I’ve never had a good New Year’s Eve, & I don’t like birthdays, or any other time when you’re meant to be happy . . . For me happiness occurs arbitrarily: a moment of eye contact on a bus, when all at once you fall in love; or a frozen second in a park when it’s enough that there are trees in the world. I don’t like New Year’s Eve. I don’t think bliss could ever be preceded by a countdown & the chiming of a pompous clock, unless that’s what death’s like. [I was reminded of this quote yesterday while my husband & I were biking around our neighborhood & the gloriously sweet scent of honeysuckle was carried on the breeze, & I thought to myself “How wonderful it is to be alive & experience this very moment!”]
- In later life, I have come to realize that any expression of love which ends in a yelp probably requires modification.
- [In regard to his father]: He taught me that you can get what you want if you refuse to let circumstances defeat you, & perhaps there is no more valuable lesson. I only wish I’d felt he liked me more.
- I was a connoisseur of the Penguin [a type of candy], which came in yellow, green, blue, & red wrappers. I was a particular devotee of the blue variety, even though all Penguins are the same below the surface, which I think is as perfect an analogy as we’re likely to get for the futility of racism.
- The need to find out what will happen if I don’t relent or moderate my actions has been a constant source of difficulty & discomfort in my life.
- My dad’s philosophy was (& I think still is) that life is a malevolent force, which seeks to destroy you, & you have to struggle with it. Only those who are hard enough will succeed. Most people get crushed, but if you fight, in the end life will go, “Fucking hell. This one’s serious. Let him through.“
- For me, it was more important that people knew I had sex than having sex. That’s daft, if you live for other people’s perception you can never be happy, but this was no time to ponder that existential blather . . .
- In Grays [his hometown] I didn’t possess anything people wanted. I was trying to spend a fantasy currency from an irrelevant island.
- What I wanted was to be in love, to have a companion to look after me- someone to replace my mother. But before I could persuade anyone to fulfill that function, I found drugs.
- Many years later, when I eventually got clean, I was astonished to learn that I actually don’t enjoy my own company. I always thought I loved being on my own, but actually I don’t. It was being on drugs that I liked.
- Gravity’s hard to dispute, & breathing, but a lot of things we instinctively obey are a lot of old tosh [nonsense].
- What I’ve learned- to my cost- on several occasions in my life, is that people will put up with all manner of bad behavior so long as you’re giving them what they want. They’ll laugh & get into it & enjoy the anecdotes & the craziness & the mayhem as long as you’re doing your job well, but the minute you’re not, you’re fucked. They’ll wipe their hands of you without a second glance.
- I presume that feeling ostracized & alienated from them [his father & step-father], even within my own home growing up, encoded within me a deep sense of alienation. That’s why in any group dynamic my identity will always be defined as an outsider rather than from within. This is also the reason why stand-up comedy is the perfect career for me. Not just because I’m constantly scribbling notes inside my own mind to deal with the embarrassment I perpetually feel, but also because I’m always observing, always outside . . . The fact that I’ve managed to make it funny is bloody convenient, because I can’t think how else I would make them listen.
- Once I finally got a bit of success, it became clear that my internal deficit of sadness & longing would not really be sated by the things I’d always thought would save me. This realization made me turn to hard drugs- specifically heroin- in an even more concerted way I than I ever had before.
- Heroin is a greedy drug, robbing you by increments first of your clothing, then of your skin; finally when it comes for your life it must be a relief. They’re not present those people: if you talk to them, they just look beyond you, they’re not really there. That’s why the invisibility of the homeless scoring drugs on Oxford Street is almost by mutual consent: they don’t want to be seen, & no one else wants to see them.
- Of all the consumer products, chewing gum is perhaps the most ridiculous: it literally has no nourishment- you just chew it to give yourself something to do with your stupid idiot Western mouth. Half the world is starving, & the other’s going, “I don’t actually need any nutrition, but it would be good to masticate, just to keep my mind off things.”
- . . . international violence being a two-way street & it being impossible to oppress people endlessly without consequence.
- The main problem was I had too much status & not enough discipline . . . I’d be all full of acrimony & revolutionary bile- furious at society, but ultimately furious at myself.
- They were quite happy to demonstrate social solidarity through Kit-Kats but if you actually bring homeless people into their lives, it makes them uncomfortable . . . Perhaps the reason it [homelessness] continues is that we somehow think of the homeless as dirty & unpleasant . . .
- Would anyone sleep with prostitutes if they weren’t able to dehumanize them? If they understood that prostitutes were women with lives & families & problems & hopes & dreams, would they still be able to empty themselves soullessly & leave fifty quid [money] on the table?
- I find the potential for mayhem exhilarating- society’s only held together by a few ideas. I know those ideas are quite entrenched, & the reason we have a police force & an army is to maintain that status quo, but at moments like this, that whole apparatus can suddenly look quite vulnerable, & I find that thrilling.
- People do this a lot. They don’t seem to realize that the future is just like now, but in a little while, so they say they’re going to do things in anticipation of some kind of seismic shift in their worldview that never actually materializes . . . Tomorrow is not some mythical kingdom where you’ll grow butterfly wings & be able to talk to the animals- you’ll basically feel pretty much the same way you do at the moment. [So true! I keep reminding myself of this every time I want to skip the gym or otherwise screw up my attempt at a healthier lifestyle & subsequently losing a few pounds.]
- When you live in the psychological space that I did, life is not about confronting reality, it’s about ignoring it.
- Perhaps heroin had, similarly, held me in times of trouble. The prospect of relinquishing it was terrifying. The only reason I did so was because I was more afraid of what was going to happen to me if I didn’t.
- I couldn’t go on living like this. I had to become successful. “I want to change the world, & to do something valuable, & beautiful. I want people to remember me before I’m dead, & then more afterward.” And at this juncture I was finally willing to do whatever it was going to take to bring that about- up to & including giving up drugs. From that moment on, I really did take things, in the textbook rehab fashion, one day at a time.
- I’ve always had the analogy that people who are depressed are often funny in the same way that England is a seafaring nation because we’re an island; because you adapt to your circumstances, & if you’re miserable you’ve got to become funny to fucking keep afloat.
- I’ve noticed the Americans are inherently consumers. They always want to pop pills for mental or physical ailments.
Russell Brand has gotten a bad name lately because of his influence over the recent British elections (encouraging people not to vote), & I’ll be the first to admit that I think such encouragements were ill-advised. However, his assertion that the current political climates in both Britain & the US offer no good options at present is certainly spot-on . . . As I’ve said before, I love people who question the status quo, who make me think, who challenge all of society’s ideas about what is normal & natural, & who prove that people really CAN turn their lives around in a positive manner. That is a perfect description of Mr. Brand, & that is why I’ve chosen to honor him in this post today.
Russell Brand has been a favorite of mine for quite a few years. I mayyyy just have a mild crush on him! And I think he was too good for Katy… yeah, I said it! haha
Anwyways, if you want to see your perception of RB play out in movie form, watch “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and then “Get Him To The Greek”… you’ll see how his character changes from a fame whore and druggie womanizer to someone with depth, and it’s hilarious the whole time. I could watch GHTTG over and over…amazing!
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Haha, I actually kind of agree about him being too good for Katy. I’ve read several things that say she refused to give up partying & stuff even though she knew he couldn’t participate b/c of his history of drug & alcohol abuse. I mean, she knew his history when she married him . . . Plus it sounds like he wanted kids & she didn’t. And I definitely have both of those movies on my “must-see” list!