Lightning rod

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Russell Brand is famous in England. Here? Not so much. The rock 'n' roll-friendly comic, actor and TV personality is acutely aware of this fact, and it colors the standup special set to debut Sunday on Comedy Central.

Brand is absurdly tall and lanky, wears his hair in a ridiculous mop of curls and dresses like a rock star. His irreverent, sex-charged persona is as much of a lightning rod as his looks. As one particularly insightful critic put it, he's the Jack Sparrow of standup.

So although most Americans would ask, "Russell who?" the comedian should have no trouble grabbing those same folks' attention, even if they didn't see him host MTV's Video Music Awards or star in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Those are Brand's only Stateside entry points, so the vast majority of his routine in Russell Brand in New York City riffs on those events. He explains the origin of his "elephant in the room" promos with Britney Spears and details his surprise encounter with Macaulay Culkin on the movie set, among other tangents.

From his surprisingly humble admission that he isn't well-known in this country, Brand's routine builds slowly, with more jokes falling flat than hitting their targets. But little by little he picks up steam, and by the end, he's delivering as many laughs and gasps as you'd hope for.

"Russell Brand in New York City"

Premieres 10 p.m. Sunday, Comedy Central

Grade: B-