I remember quite specifically the moment I realised that Russell Brand was funny. I had, like many others, seen him on one of those horrific Big Brother companion shows and thought that he was just another dreadful post-Simon Amstell T4-style TV presenter. But at a previous job I was subjected, every day, to the Chris Moyles show on Radio One. The day Russell Brand was a guest was the day I got it. It was the day I realised ‘oh, he’s dressed a bit odd, is a bit theatrical and likes to piss about with language, but the reason he gets away with it all is because what he’s saying is really funny’.
Once I got the joke, the rest of it all made sense. Given his recent success, it would appear that I’m not the only one who is into it. That said, there are still people who don’t get it or don’t like it. I would suggest strongly that those people stay away from Ponderland, which is very similar to comedian Russell Brand’s stand-up material.
The show works like this; Brand picks a topic and riffs on it for twenty-two minutes. There are also a few old documentary clips thrown into the fray each episode and the occasional phone call made to someone who might be able to offer some insight on the subject.
Whilst I’m a big fan of the show, I had some problems with it. Whilst the length of the episodes gives Brand ample time to explore subjects such as ‘Holidays’ and ‘Sport’, episodes on broader subjects, such as ‘Love’ and ‘Childhood’ feel rushed. Brand manically bounces from point to point; there’s no breathing room at all. It seems as though he has enough to say on the subjects to fill easily twice the time.
However, given that the main complaint about the show is that it’s not long enough to hold all of the good in, it should come as no surprise that there is much to praise. One of Brand’s strengths is that he is willing to use whatever he has at hand to get laughs. He’ll play with language or subject matter or conventions or even the public perception of himself. He’s also a master of humour that is juvenile without being stupid.
Brand is perhaps at his best when relaying his own experiences on a subject. The shock of being visited by Grandparents whilst in the faraway land ‘on holiday’ is fantastic, whilst the development of his relationship with the ‘video-man’ is also really funny.
Whilst Ponderland may not convert anyone over or revolutionise television in any way, it’s a decent format in which to present Brand’s stand-up. Ponderland offers us six extremely funny shows which are so packed full of material that they’re likely to lend themselves extremely well to repeat viewings.
Extras By way of extra material, we get some deleted scenes from the show and some clips of the stand-up shows performed to test out material for the series. The clips from the warm-up shows run for about twenty minutes, and you will have already heard the majority in the episodes, making this a slightly disappointing inclusion. The deleted scenes from the recording are much better, including a phone conversation with former classmate Louise (from Eternal) Redknapp and some audience interaction.
Ponderland is released on the 10th of November