"My way of joking is to tell the truth", read Russell Brand's tank top as he addressed the Cambridge Union last night.
As well as Brand's discussion of "inner truth", which was a recurring theme of the talk, subject matters flitted from Topshop, Julian Assange to Ganesh Chaturthi and his various tattoos. References were also made to Grindr, Harry Styles (who he described as "quite a character") and the "vacuous" illusion of Hollywood.
The popularity of the event was such that an estimated 1300 people turned out to hear Brand speak, hundreds of whom had to be turned away.
On the subject of political revolution, he told the raptured audience: “It’s happening instantaneously. It’s happening now!”
When asked precisely how this revolution would work, he said: “We need to make it sexy – make it fun, make it enjoyable, make it a part of your identity… What we need to do is stimulate people’s interest.”
He suggested that a new alternative might be based around autonomous "tribes" and a larger "electronic democracy". However, Brand did acknowledge there might be “complications”.
When asked whether he would consider running for poltical office, he said that it wasn't out of the question: “Why do I have to run? I’ll saunter to office... Let’s see shall we", before quickly adding: “Before we turn 'let’s never vote', to 'let’s vote for me' we need to know exactly what it is that we’re voting for."
He added: “We oughtn’t be satisfied with some diluted version of democracy. Be under no illusions the parliamentary system exists to sustain itself – it doesn’t represent us. There needs to be a defiant stand against the corporates that are running our planet.”
Fame, which Brand described as a "blinding white light" that was "hypnotising the population", was another topic of conversation. “When you experience it," he said, "it ain’t real. It ain’t got no value.”
At one point he jokingly reprimanded the audience, exclaiming, "Shut up you Harry Potter poofs!" While most in attendance seem to have found this funny, some have spoken out against the use of the term. The CUSU LGBT representative Charlie Bell said, "It was a bit of a shock to hear that the word poof is considered an appropriate term to level as an insult, especially by someone like Brand, who models himself as the very model of a modern liberal... he should apologise unreservedly and immediately."
Brand talked frankly about drugs, recalling the "bliss" he felt the first time he took heroin. Brand is an advocate of drug legalisation. He said, “When I took drugs I felt lonely, alienated and disconnected. I felt that this culture isn’t serving me. When I took heroin for the first time it was beautiful. It was a personal problem - I couldn’t cope with being alive I needed to take drugs.”
Brand closed the evening with some wider musings: “We need a broadening of democracy. Conservative ideals only appeal to our selfish nature. We must be intrepid, we must be bold. We need a more holistic and inclusive ideology.”
There was wild applause as he left the chamber.
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