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Posted on Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 8:41 a.m.

Russell Brand takes affectionate shots at everyone - including himself - at EMU appearance

By Will Stewart

It’s tough to classify Russell Brand’s performance Wednesday at the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center. Certainly it was something more than simply a comedy show.

Part monologue, part revival meeting, part self-help seminar, Brand’s performance was manic and charming and hilarious all at once, and even offered a bit of a message about love and peace and unity for fans to take home with them.

Or, as the actor and comedian himself described his act: “A nice blend of intelligence and filth.”

Brand’s intelligence is as undeniable as it is obvious. Stalking the stage like a rock star, he engaged with the audience, riffing at random in hilarious, rapid-fire, high-wire displays that combined fearlessness and his keen intellect.

Despite a longstanding reputation for cruelty, Brand was anything but on Wednesday. His interactions with the audience, which one way or another constituted the majority of his 90-minute set, were playful and cutting, but never cruel—even when he was using a fan’s cell phone to call and order him an erotic massage, or when he was hooking two single audience members up on a blind date.

“I love everybody and I especially love each and every single one of you,” he said. And one really got the sense that he meant it.

Unity. Peace. Love. And, of course, filth.

Wednesday’s show was profane. But the profanity—including plenty of graphic sexual references, often about people in the audience—was cloaked in Brand’s seeming genuine affection for his targets.

And, of course, no one was a bigger target than Brand himself. He was hilarious when discussing Twitter feeds from fans of his wife, pop singer Katy Perry, that express their love for her and their hatred for him.

Or how Kanye West’s breakdown at the MTV Video Music Awards, which Brand was hosting, saved Brand from self destructing—yet again—by using a cutting bit about the “Twilight” movies.

“Kanye took a bullet for me,” he said.

And of course, ever the comedic masochist, Brand couldn’t resist using the bit anyway: “I have got nothing against “Twilight,” he said. “It’s just that I like my culture to have some value.”

Some other highlights:

  • Sororities:“I love sororities. They’re like free brothels. And those are the best kind.”
  • Fraternities: “What do you have to do to be in a fraternity? Drink a lot of beer and one time someone shaved one or your testicles?”
  • Death threats: “Death threats are pointless. If you really want someone to die … just wait.”
  • Occupy Ann Arbor: “Someone told me it’s only like three tents. That’s more like ‘Occ …’ “
  • Justin Bieber: “I have a cure for Bieber Fever. It’s called ‘adulthood.’”