Russell Brand booking
Born in 1975, comedian Russell Brand discovered acting in school. He attended the Italia Conti
Academy in London in 1991, but he was kicked out for his destructive behavior. Brand later turned to
stand-up comedy and landed a job at MTV in Britain in 2000. His next major breakthroughs came with
his 2007 memoir My Booky Wook and his 2008 film Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Brand has several film
projects in the works.
Known for his clever, edgy and sometimes lewd humor, Russell Brand has enjoyed a successful
career as a stand-up comedian, actor and writer. Many of his jokes stem from his own difficult
experiences, including his battles with drug and sex addiction. Brand grew up in the small workingclass community of Grays, England. His parents split up when he was just a baby, and he was raised
by his mother. Brand’s childhood was marked by many personal challenges. Around the age of seven,
Brand lived with relatives for a time while his mother received treatment for her first battle with cancer.
(She would go through two more bouts with the disease by the time Brand was 16.) While always
close to his mother, Brand clashed with her boyfriend, which made the times he lived with her more
difficult. He suffered from depression and had an eating disorder around the age of 11, Brand told The
Observer. “It was really unusual in boys, quite embarrassing. But I found it euphoric,” he explained. At
another point he was sexually assaulted by a tutor. At school, Brand sought attention through painful
and gross stunts, including eating ants. One teacher described his behavior as “acting the fool” and
called him a “waste of space.” He got kicked out of a boarding school for having girls in his room. The
young troublemaker found some salvation in drama club. Playing a gangster in a school production led
to an interest in acting. At the age of 16, Brand went to London to study at the Italia Conti stage
school. There he impressed his teachers with his talent and started experimenting with drugs. But he
was kicked out of that school and the Camden Drama Centre “for smashing things up, crying and
cutting myself, breaking down in tears all the time.”
While he landed a few television parts in the mid-1990s, Brand’s career really started to take off with
his stand-up comedy. He competed for New Act of the Year at London’s Hackney Empire theater in
2000. While he didn’t win, Brand soon landed a gig on MTV as a presenter. He was fired the following
year, however, after showing up to work dressed as Osama bin Laden on the day after the September
11 terrorist attacks. ”Put bluntly, it was a very stupid thing to do and I put it under what I call the ‘drugbrella’—stuff I did while on drugs,” Brand later told Entertainment Weekly. In 2002, Brand appeared in
the short-lived series Re:Brand, which featured the comedian taking on several disturbing challenges.
He got into a boxing ring with his father, bathed with a homeless man and performed other odd acts.
In an interview with GQ, Brand later called the show “psychological self-harm.” He went to rehab
around this time to face his drug addiction and found enough humor in his struggle to incorporate it
into his 2004 stand-up act, Better Now. In 2005, Brand tackled another personal demon. He spent time
in a Philadelphia treatment center for his sex addiction. At one point, Brand estimated that he had
slept with roughly 2000 women. He turned his life into a British best-seller in 2007 with My Booky
Wook: A Memoir of Sex, Drugs, and Stand-Up (which was published in the United States in 2009).
With his addictions in check, Brand continued to stir up controversy with his often outlandish humor.
He made a series of prank calls to actor Andrew Sachs with Jonathan Ross in 2008 on his British
radio show. The pair made lewd comments about the actor’s granddaughter, which created a firestorm
of outrage after the segment aired. In addition to issuing an apology, Brand resigned from the show.
While he had trouble in Britain, Brand had a career breakthrough in America in 2008. He appeared in
the comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall with Kristen Bell and Jason Segel. In the movie, Brand played a
rock lothario, which was not unlike his stand-up stage persona. He also introduced the nation to his
distinctive type of humor as the host of the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards. Once again, Brand made
waves, joking about the Jonas Brothers’ purity rings and comparing singer Britney Spears to Jesus
Christ. He also had a role in Adam Sandler’s comedy Bedtime Stories that same year.
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