(Credit: Josie’s Juice)
Russell Brand’s late-night news show on FX, Brand X never quite came together and has been cancelled by the network. But his appearance on Morning Joe this week to promote his new stand-up tour illustrated why, while Brand may not have been adept at hosting a full half-hour or hour of news and interviews, he’s strikingly gifted as a guest, correspondent, or columnist:
That the Morning Joe segment was both a disaster and an opportunity was due to host Mika Brzezinski, who utterly lost control of the program, and Brand’s fellow guests, who created the conditions for Brand to launch a scathing critique of cable news. When Brand was asked what unified the world-historical figures who inspired his tour, Brand gave a terrific answer that should have lead to some follow-up questions: “They’re all people who died for a cause, they’re all people whose icons are used to designate meaning perhaps not in the manner in which they intended.” Brzezinski’s response? “I kind of like that, that sounded dead serious.” The other panelists mocked his accent. When one of them tried to ask Brand a “serious question”–actually a bit of fluff about which medium Brand prefers, which Brand answered with insight and introspection–Brzezinski told him he could “Try. It’s never going to work,” as if being a comedian disqualifies one from introspection. They referred to him in the third person, declared his clothes distracting, and in general behaved like children rather than news professionals.
And finally, Brand had enough. “Is this what you all do for a living? Let me help you. I’m here to promote a tour called Messiah Complex,” he told them exasperated, before shuffling up a stack of paper and posing a series of entirely reasonable questions about the roles of Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden in our national security environment before continuing his lecture. “You forget about what’s important and allow the agenda to be decided by superficial information.” Turning to Brzezinski, Brand asked, “What do you think that gesture means, the way you’re touching that bottle. You need to lose that ring because it don’t mean nothing to you.”