Russell Brand: Catch him if you can

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Russell Brand at press conference in Pasadena, Calif., on Sunday Credit: Phil McCarten/FX

 Russell Brand isn't the easiest guy in the world to pin down.

And not just if someone's trying to get him to comment on, say, his personal life.

The name of Katy Perry were never uttered during an FX press conference Sunday in Pasadena at which the British comedian, who's reportedly getting a divorce from the singer, riffed about the late-night show he's doing for the cable network beginning in April, a project whose working title, "Strangely Uplifting," appears to be an apt description of the man himself.

Sure, at one point he appeared to be offering  to participate in a three-way involving me and another reporter (male) who were competing to get a question in. And, no, I can't exactly explain how that happened. I'd say you'd have had to be there, but I was there myself, and honestly, it didn't help.

I would like to point out that I wasn't the one who tried to lure Brand into a discussion of recent "events" -- as Brand put it -- in his life by asking him how he was doing.

"You're making the mistake of seeing time as linear," he told the reporter. "The brilliant American author Kurt Vonnegut, he'll tell you that if you imagine reality as experience simultaneously, events become redundant."

Episodes of Brand's show, we were told, would be taped a few days before air, to keep it topical. So what, asked another reporter, would Brand do if he happened to be the news of the day?

"Potentially at the risk of plunging myself into a post-structuralist, post-modern vortex, I could analyze myself while I was doing it, or, if I did something newsworthy during the show," he replied. "It's about authenticity. We live in a time where we're stupefied by plasticity, where we have this toxic-sequined wave of vapid culture polluting our minds, denigrating our consciousness, distracting us and removing us from our spirituality. So gossip-based stories would have less value, other than in an analytical context. You know, it's not about I don't want to further celebrate the overly elaborate brittle plastic structures of nonsense that are constantly fired into our minds to distract us from what's really important. So like if I had done something actually newsworthy, in some bizarre world, then I would cover it. But if it was just more lacquered nonsense designed to distruct us from truth, then I would wisely ignore it."

And here's what he told yet another questioner, who wanted to know if he'd be discussing his "personal experiences in Hollywood":

"I think there will be inevitable biographical elements, because you can't speak from anyone's perspective but your own. Unless I was to bizarrely adapt some sort of avatar. It's like if I was speak from the perspective of, I don't know, Anjelica Huston, people would think I lack the proper authority."

So what might the show be about?

"I'm in this extraordinary country of yours. I'm not from here, am I? I'm English," said Brand, suggesting his is "the perspective of an alien trying to understand this peculiar time, this peculiar country" and comparing himself to Mork, Robin Williams' character in "Mork & Mindy."

"He had to understand he was an extraterrestrial. He was trying to, I think, get a green card, and essentially that's what I'm doing."

Hard to imagine Mork, though, discussing why "contemporary culture to be like a sort of a pink pony trotting through the world s---ing glitter into our minds."

Asked about politics, Brand made fun of Newt Gingrich's and Rick Santorum's names, but said covering presidential candidates would be like trying to describe "individual termites."

Referring to reports of U.S. Marines urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters, he demanded: "So it's like why are we more shocked by people pissing on a dead body than killing a live body?" 

Critiques nothwithstanding, Brand claimed to consider the U.S., culturally, to be "the greatest country in the world."

So what is it, I asked, that he likes about it?

"I think it's done really wonderful things with the English language."