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The Man, The Myth, The Brand

There are those who would argue Jason Segel’s penis was the most memorable part of Forgetting Sarah Marshall. But long after the remnants of that infamous nude scene have (thankfully) escaped me, one glorious moment remains tattooed in my brain: It’s the moment we discovered a legend, an icon, a God among men. I’m of course talking about Russell Brand.

Am I exaggerating slightly? Sure, but only a little. While Brand’s Aldous Snow character is relatively minor within the context of "Marshall," he does shepherd in a whole new brand (pun absolutely intended) of comedy.

But let’s back up a minute. Brand got his start in London as an MTV VJ and stand-up comic. He struggled with drugs and alcohol during his youth, but has since gotten clean and begun speaking out about addiction.

After a number of small film and television roles, he broke out in a big way in the Judd Apatow-produced "Marshall." His character, Snow, is the rock-star boyfriend of the titular Sarah Marshall (played by Kristen Bell), and let’s just say he has a very unique way of dealing with people. When one character asks him to listen to a demo, he says, “I was gonna listen to that, but then, um, I just carried on living my life.” And when his girlfriend asks if he wants to make love, he says, “Alright, you go on top though, cause I’m knackered.”

You see, Aldous Snow is one of the most interesting, surprising, and unique comedy characters in recent memory—so unique, in fact, that he earned his own spin-off film—Get Him to the Greek.

Does "Greek" live up to "Marshall?" I think most would agree that it doesn’t. But Brand and his infamous character certainly weren’t problems. Not only did "Greek" give us “African Child,” Snow’s outrageously offensive attempt at emulating Bono, but we also learned Snow’s interesting definition of monogamy—that as long as you tell your significant other who you sleep with, it’s cool to go wild.

The character of Aldous Snow caused Brand’s stock in Hollywood to skyrocket. He was chosen to host the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards, where he infamously and incessantly mocked the Jonas Brothers and their purity rings. It was the awards show everyone was talking about that year, as Brand went way, way, way beyond what was deemed acceptable by most. But hell, it was just Brand being Brand.

This Friday, Brand will attempt to cash in his previous success and good will in Arthur, a remake of the beloved 1981 romantic comedy starring Dudley Moore, and it’ll be a big test for him. Although early reviews are decidedly negative, it will be his first true challenge as he won’t have the Apatow brand or beloved Snow character to fall back on.

But whether Arthur is a smashing success or not, we shouldn’t expect Brand to go away any time soon. Between the rock-star look and attitude, the inability to censor himself, the legions of loyal fans, the style of absurd yet subtle comedy that he practically invented and the “Mr. Katy Perry”-ness that makes him magnetic and irresistible to some, and loathsome and repulsive to others. It’s that amazing divide that makes Russell Brand the special enigma that he is. It’s also the reason he’s here to stay.

And hell, if Arthur flops, let’s just turn the Aldous Snow saga into a trilogy. Who wouldn’t want to see that?



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