A barefoot Russell Brand explained to critics Saturday how his talk show, "Brand X," will soon become more conventional.
But not too conventional. He ended a panel at the Television Critics Association on Saturday by explaining what he believes is Sarah Palin's appeal: "People want to fuck her. That's why they tolerate the other stuff."
But first, about the lack of shoes.
Brand has sold himself as a fast-talking, free-associating, antiestablishment force in show business, and dressed the part for the panel. He wore ripped jeans, beads, and some kind of leather strap on his bicep. His hair, beard and stare suggested a more handsome Charles Manson.
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The lack of shoes only helped the image. And that's the conundrum of Russell Brand: Is he a delightfully weird anti-authority figure who somehow wandered into television and films, or someone who got there through canny packaging as an anti-authority figure?
Either way, his look provided him lots of material. Where were his shoes, someone asked.
"They're home with their stepmom," Brand said. He later explained that he had sustained a minor injury from a strap while kickboxing — "essentially a rugburn." But he also noted that shoes are an often non-essential addition.
"The real question is, why are you all wearing shoes?" he asked.
Adding to the argument that Brand is about show business first, and wild self-expression second: He's making his talk show look more like all the others. It will have guests, including, perhaps, Charlie Sheen. (Brand joked that each of Sheen's personalities could appear.) He won't be so "nuts-out anti-establishment." And the show will look more conventional.
That said, he believes comedians should be free to say what they want. Asked about recent jokes by Dane Cook and Daniel Tosh that angered people (Brand's own Palin joke wasn't so different from ones by Tracy Morgan that plenty of people didn't like) Brand said people forget that comedians are comedians.
"I don't think we should create a state where people are afraid to talk," he said. "That could have much worse consequences."