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Russell made his theatrical debut, aged fifteen, in Bugsy Malone as Fat Sam. Essex council decreed it criminally neglectful to allow this chameleon like ability to put on hats to go un-nurtured and promptly funded an education at the fancy Italia Conti stage school, which lead to a three-year scholarship at the drama centre in Camden.
In his spare time he began performing stand up in pubs around London and reached the final of the prestigious Hackney Empire new act of the year competition. Brand was denied the victory that many assumed would be his (allegations of jury rigging came to naught) but was a runner up and his angry young man- political rantings caught the eye of Time Out's Malcolm Hay who dubbed him "Essex's Bill Hicks"
Further gigs at the Empire followed and a successful run at the Edinburgh Festival with more flattering reviews and an appearance in the So You Think Your Funny? Final.
MTV caught Russell's show at the festival and gave him his own series, Dance Floor Chart, where he bantered bizarrely with intoxicated youths in discos. Additionally he presented Select their flagship tea-time phone in show. When Jackass arrived in Blighty Russell was afforded the dubious privilege of promoting it for MTV UK.
RE:BRAND followed for "UK Play "a challenging look at cultural taboos." Over ten episodes he had a boxing match with his Father (long before Dennis v Mortimer), had a bath with a homeless man, who he had living in his bed, acted as pimp to a heroin addicted prostitute and tried to convert the leader of the young BNP to socialism.
He also presented his own show on Sunday afternoon for Xfm and acted in Channel Four's White Teeth (Merlin-hippy commune leader/drug dealer) and in the Steve Coogan vehicle Cruise of the Gods.
Russell recently hosted and wrote The Russell Brand for Channel Four's Comedy Lab series. Summer 2004 sees Russell hosting E4's live Big Brother discussion series E Forum the alternative take on the goings on in the House. Russell then travels up to Edinburgh to perform his one man show Better Now at the The Pleasance; a hilariously honest chronicle of Russell's odyssey through a twilight world of whores, heroin and hairdos demonstrating that the road of excess leads to the palace of unemployment.
Darkly brooding proto-superstar discover Russell Brand for yourself ahead of the pack. The Herald
'Very Impressive' Time Out