From Punjabi music, noise of honking cars, a mention of Bollywood, spirituality and Hindi gods — globally popular British funny man Russell Brand ensured his debut India performance, which began with the capital, was a laughter riot topped with ‘desi’ Indian elements. For fans, it was truly a delight.
His entry on the stage at the Talkatora Stadium here as part of the second edition of the LIVE Viacom18 Comedy Central Chuckle Festival on Friday night, began with the Punjabi number “Mundian tu bachke”, and the fun didn’t cease until Brand bowed down with a “Namaste” and went off stage.
Wearing a sleeveless t-shirt adorned by images of lord Krishna and strings of rudraksh to go with it, the spiritually inclined 40-year-old addressed the crowd — a mix of young, middle-aged and old — with “Hare Krishna”.
“Thank you so much everyone. I’m happy about being in Delhi. This is my first performance here (in India), unless you count my wedding as a performance,” Brand, who married his now ex-wife and pop star Katy Perry in the country in 2010, quipped, and added how sometimes, “Bollywood films can last longer than a marriage”.
“I like your country, the people… spirituality, (lord) Krishna, Ganesha…,” he said.
Brand also poked fun over the security at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, saying it was “seriously funny” how it was strange to be asked if he was brining along any fruits with him.
“Well, I have had an impressive criminal record for having hard drugs… why would I do fruit smuggling,” he joked.
Known for his stand-up acts, which he performs across the world, and work in movies like “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, “Get Him to the Greek” and “Despicable Me 2”, Brand also wondered how well does the Indian crowd knows him.
“I don’t know how well you guys know me… maybe because of my movies, my wedding, controversies and celebrity stuff,” he said, before trying to fathom what could essentially land him in a prison in Delhi or could cause a censorship scandal.
At one point, he got off the stage for “communication” with the crowd and commented how the crowd was “more silent than you’re in the car”, before imitating how people in Delhi go bonkers honking.
A highpoint of his show here was when he picked on a front-seat audience member by taking his cellphone and calling his mother. “Your son, he’s never been so safe, never been happier… we’re in love,” he said to the mother on the phone. All she responded was: “Helllooooo!” The crowd was in splits.
Brand also brought the house down when he tried to speak out some swear words in Hindi, but all in good spirit.
Bollywood found more than one reference in his performance, and he even mentioned that he likes Shah Rukh Khan because he’s a “self-made man” and that he’d like to seduce Deepika Padukone.
“Does anyone have Deepika Padukone’s number here, maybe we could try,” the yoga lover asked the crowd.
The comedian, who had the headlining act at the show, also shared the most bizarre death threats he had received for making a jibe against former US President George W. Bush in the US itself; apart from talking about a past meeting with the British Queen.
He even spoke of his meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, recounting how when he had asked the spiritual leader, “Do you think I should become a monk?”, but changed plans after he was told to maintain celibacy.
Overall, there was laughter galore through his show, and the crowd couldn’t get enough of him. Brand got off the stage after bowing down with a “Namaste” and happily clicked selfies with his fans.
For Unnika Manhas, a graphic designer, “Russell was a little crazy, let’s admit it, we were quite expecting that! Needless to say, he exceeded it with his witty sense of humour.”
Another attendee, Nakul Anand shared: “With his Brit charm and funny bone, Russell managed to connect with the audience immediately — of course, not to forget his Indian connections.”
After Delhi, Brand is geared up to spread chuckles and more in Bengaluru and Mumbai.