Russell Brand


Russell Brand claims that he was prepared to be perfectly civil when he appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe two weeks ago.

But then, he writes in a verbose op-ed for the U.K.'s Guardian, he got a load of what he was up against.

Explaining what ultimately turned into a dressing-down for the hosts at the hands of the quirky Brit, Brand writes that he was "polite to everyone there" when he first arrived at the show's New York studio.

"I was surprised by the soundman's impatient intrusiveness and yet more surprised as I stood just off set, beside the faux-newsroom near the pseudo-researchers who appear on camera as pulsating set dressing, when the soundman yapped me to heel with the curt entitlement of [late Ugandan despot] Idi Amin's PA," recalls the comedian, who sets off on his Messiah Complex Tour later this month.

"Often when you encounter rudeness from the crew, it is an indication that the show is not running smoothly, perhaps that day, or maybe in general. When I landed in my chair, on camera, and was introduced to the show's hosts—a typical trident of blonde, brunette and affable chump—it became clear that, in spite of the show's stated left-leaning inclination, the frequency they were actually broadcasting was the shrill, white noise of dumb current affairs."

Watching the clip from his June 18 appearance, Brand does seem visibly annoyed right off the bat at Morning Joe's three-against-one format, which allows the majority to natter on among themselves, though he converses amiably enough at first.

The "blonde, brunette and affable chump" in his case were regular cohost Mika Brzezinski and panelists Brian Shactman and Katty Kay, and he didn't take well to them discussing him as if he had already left the set.

Writing in The Guardian that TV hosts are often "perfectly amiable" when you talk to them off-camera, Brand opines that "when the red light goes on they immediately transform into shark-eyed Stepford berks talking in a cadence you encounter nowhere else but TV-land—a meter that implies simultaneously carefree whimsy and stifled hysteria. There is usually a detachment from the content."

He goes on: "This abstraction I think occurs through institutionalization. If your function is to robotically report a pre-existing agenda, you needn't directly interface with the content."

Brand notes his surprise that this particular appearance went viral because so many of his TV interviews "have the odd 'cuckoo' ambience that defines this transient slice of pop cultural life."

"It's the unreal, sustained glitch in naturalism that makes this genre of TV disturbing to either watch or be on," he continues. "The Lynchian subjugation of our humanity; warmth and humor, usurped by a sterile, pastel-colored steel blade benignly thrust again and again into a gray brain."

So, basically, Brand is saying that watching the type of infotainment served up by Morning Joe is the equivalent of getting a lobotomy.

But it sounds like the MJ crew took his wits-matching appearance in stride—and maybe even got a little excited by all the interest it would generate about their show.

"Wow... you WON'T believe what Russell Brand said to me this morning!! Watch the absolutely wild interview here," Brzezinski tweeted after his appearance, probably referring to his infamous water bottle comment, along with a link to the interview. Responding to MSNBC producer Tracy Mitch, she added, "After that outrageous talk with Russell Brand, I'm still asking myself the same question!! MT @TracyMitch How did @morningmika survive?"

"Again, just wow... @rustyrockets on ovulation... so outrageous! Must see MJ," she marveled.

And indeed it was.

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