This Will Be All Done – Russell Brand and Nihilism
First Disclaimer: this was written before The Trews and before everybody else got wind of his revolution. I’m not interested in discussing the Russell Brand we see today in 2015, for good or ill. I still love him, but it’s a love based on the old radio shows, on which this essay is focused.
Second Disclaimer: where possible I’ve tried to suppress my urge to plant appropriate references that only the hardcore fan would recognise. Sometimes however, this is not possible. My language may seem different to usual; that’s normally one of said references, or similarly me adopting one of ol’Russ’ distinctive turns of phrase. Hopefully the post can be read by all, but there should be a few more chuckles in there for my fellow members of the Matt Morgan Appreciation Society.
Before the whole Sachsgate hoopla back in 2008, Russell Brand used to (co-)host a radio show on BBC Radio 2, and before that on BBC 6Music (and before that on XFM but I don’t have access to those shows). It was a weekly meandering through the mind of a former drug addict with an outrageous wit and childlike insecurities.
Alongside him was his oaf of a sidekick, everyman’s Matt Morgan: a snivelling wretch with a silly Dartford voice and a penchant for embarrassing himself in trivial yet memorable fashion. In the 6Music days they were also joined by small-faced, walking dog’s bed Trevor “Cocky Locky” Lock. As far back as I can remember they’ve also had resident poet Mr Gee on board each week, who would write and recite a poem (virtually) from scratch based on the show’s events (all on the mic!). His poetry would gain more prominence, and improvisation, as the shows went on and he became an integral part of the team. Regular guest contributors included roving reporter and wrinkly rocker Noel Gallagher; monkey-botherer and melon-untwister Paul McKenna; and later the other half of the rather niche genre of foppish goth comics, Noel Fielding.
But I haven’t come here today to give you a (BORING!) run-down of the show’s logistics. The thing that concerns me is the underlying philosophy (to crudely use that grandiose word) of the show.
Russell has built his fame as stand-up comedian, TV personality and general sexy wild-man on the foundations of absolute openness about his personal life, and a childishly gleeful attitude towards authority (even those who had quite authority didn’t he?). Perhaps as a result (or even a cause) of his years as a drug addict on the fringes of society, he seems to have developed his own defence mechanism, his own therapeutic approach, to the slings and arrows of life. And it can all be summed up in the song he shares with Sharon, stylist extraordinaire…
“This will be all done, this will be all done,
Soon we’ll all be back in bed (back in bed),
This will be all done, this will be all done,
Soon we’ll all be nice and dead”
(Sounds better when sung by a tenor)
So what can we make of this little ditty? Well it goes without saying that it’s one of the great melodies, of course, but beyond that it speaks to the overall theme of the show I suppose. Any anecdote that gets too embarrassing (and trust me, there’s a few) is usually ultimately greeted with the cushion of ‘Oh well, dead soon anyway’. And I have to tell you, it’s infectious. When I myself have been facing down any significant problem over the last couple of years, I generally give a shrug and encounter a sudden recognition of transience. ‘If I’m gonna be dead in 80 years then actually what’s the worst that could happen?’ is what I’m getting at. As a born quitter, that’s my kind of philosophy.
But actually, it doesn’t work at making you quit. For me anyway it forces me to work harder. Because, again, what’s the worst that could happen? Just go for it. And when you have that mentality, that’s when you allow yourself to find humour in absolutely everything. Even the most serious topics. Because ultimately nobody has power over you any more. Not even Leslie Douglas, control of the station (and our jobs).
It’s also a wonderful atmosphere to share with the boys. Matt was friends with Russ back in the dark days under the drugbrella, and between that and seeing Russ become famous he has developed some serious ammo to take him down. Whether it’s suppositories or the firing of innumerable PA’s, Matt always has something to ground Russ, to reel him in when necessary.
And it turns out that this is a vital role. The one time Matt was away in the early years there was a small scandal with a pre-recorded competition. As Matt gleefully boasted, ‘There’ll be no scandals on my watch’. The next time he was away for a few shows? Jonathan Ross sat in as co-host. The rest is history.
Through the podcasts we have a legacy from this sexy couple of ponces. It’s a place I, and thousands like me, return to often. A place of eternal childhood, of finding humour in everything and sharing it with your best mates, of ‘Let’s never tell our mums’ and pin-pinnery. A place where no interviewee is spared from being sexualised, whether a Newsround presenter or the bloke who played Zippy. No idea is sacred, no story too embarrassing (apart from one involving Trevor and an alley) and no personal foible out of bounds. Remember those waxy bullets of Russell’s?
There’ll always be talk of upcoming new one-off shows, and that’s wonderful but it’s not the same. Bliss was it in those 6Music days to be alive, but to be young was very heaven.
Get a load of these last words, because it’s the last you’ll see of ‘em!