The first episode of Russell Brand's new FX show "Brand X" is exactly what you'd expect it to be: a current events-fueled stand-up act touting self-examination and the meaning of happiness in the context of divinity and spiritual connectedness.
That's not what you were expecting?
I don't think the live audience at the taping was quite expecting that either.
Brand begins the program, debuting Thursday at 11 p.m., with a story about meeting the Dalai Lama, and uses the Tibetan spiritual leader to help illustrate his ideas on spirituality throughout the half-hour.
And he tells some jokes.
Brand occasionally quizzes political, historical and economic consultant Matt Stoller, who sits awkwardly at the edge of the stage at what looks like a cheap folding table. Almost as soon as Stoller begins answering, Brand interrupts to go off on another rant.
He uses the same tactic with the audience. He takes polls and asks them questions, interrupting them with jokes as they struggle to get through their answers.
It's interesting, but not particularly side-splitting. Brand ponders deep questions about spirituality in culture and spiritual enlightenment in a comedic way but also in a way that makes you feel like you've somehow landed at a bizarre college lecture. (Note to class: Lecture topic to change each week.)
At one point, Brand spins out a comparison of the Dalai Lama and Charlie Sheen, eventually working out that "we" need our cultural icons to have a spiritual component to them because we are spiritual creatures. Then he quotes Nietzsche and holds forth on omnipotence, enlightenment, Mohammed and Kim Kardashian.
Uh, is this going to be on the test?