He is absolutely right, of course. Back in 2007, you wouldn’t believe what Mr Brand was paid to present a television series called Russell Brand’s Ponderland. That was one stonking profit to Mr Brand, while the balancing deficit was incurred by me and hundreds of thousands of other disappointed viewers who switched off during the first episode. 25 wasted minutes stolen from our lives, never to be repaid. And not a single laugh in the bank.
But that’s OK, because it turns out he’s not actually a comedian at all, which explains why most of us have never found him remotely funny. In the Paxman interview, Brand says he’s an “actor”.
Yes, all this time we thought Russell Brand was an overrated standup. Instead he’s a terrible thespian – which anyone might have guessed if they’d seen his performances in Arthur and Get Him To The Greek.
After a starring, if rather confusing, cameo role on Question Time, this actor was asked to become “guest editor” of the New Statesman for a week, which is why Mr Paxman was sent to a hotel room to interview him. Actually Brand says the only reason he agreed to the New Statesman gig was because an attractive woman asked him. So it wasn’t his beliefs or passion for change, it was his self-proclaimed priapism. Or was that just acting?
It really is one of the funniest Newsnight interviews ever, and if you didn’t catch it you really ought to i-play it. The recovering drug addict-turned-comedian-turned-actor-turned-political theorist wants to start a revolution.
In fact, he says, the revolution is going to happen anyway. For democracy isn’t working. Mind you, Brand doesn’t vote, and has never voted.
“I don’t get my authority from this pre-existing paradigm which is quite narrow and only serves a few people, I look elsewhere for alternatives that might be of service to humanity. Alternate means, alternate political systems.”
And what are these, pray?
“Well I’ve not invented it yet, Jeremy, I had to do a magazine last week, I had a lot on me plate.”
But he’s pretty sure he knows what his new system won’t be: “It shouldn’t destroy the planet, shouldn’t create massive economic disparity, shouldn’t ignore the needs of the people.”
Fair enough, Mr Brand. There is huge economic disparity in the world, there certainly are millions of people who feel disenfranchised, disillusioned and despondent, and you’re absolutely right that with a little charisma and a good scriptwriter they could be stirred up to believe that the current system could be overthrown, but is the destruction of democracy really the way forward?
Didn’t our parents and grandparents fight a war for democracy? And isn’t the only alternative to democracy totalitarianism? Will it be Chancellor Brand, next?
No, he wants “a socialist egalitarian system based on the massive redistribution of wealth, heavy taxation of corporations and massive responsibility for energy companies and any companies exploiting the environment. Any concept of profit should be hugely reduced.”
His language is that of an O-Level essay containing long words almost in context, written by a teenager who’s been given a new Thesaurus for his birthday.
“I come from the kind of social conditions that are exacerbated by an indifferent system that really just administrates for large corporations and ignores the population…”
In the middle of Brand’s diarrhetic monologue, Paxman summed him up in just six words: “You are a very trivial man”.
Spot on, Paxo.
But, in the unlikely event that people start taking Russell Brand seriously, we should remember the words of Franklin D Roosevelt: “Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us.”
Egalitarian isn’t just a long word, Russell, it’s the fundamental principle behind both democracy and the sort of socialism you appear to be advocating. Except that one seeks equality through liberty, the other through restriction and tyranny.
I know which I’d vote for.