Russell Brand is bringing his new standup show RE:BIRTH to Stockholm – and it's perhaps no surprise he chose to include Sweden.
The 42-year-old father-of-one appears to have become a fan of the Swedes since his last trip to the capital.
“I've been to Sweden before and it's a delightful place,” he tells The Local on the phone from Los Angeles.
“Stockholm is like a citadel of gently swaggering giants, everyone's disturbingly beautiful. Every single human being was absolutely gorgeous. I'm not surprised they've had to ban provocative advertising because I imagine everyone's on the precipice of serene and muscular sexual activity at all times.”
It's not the first time Brand has touched on Stockholm's December move to ban provocative advertising, after he tackled what he called “a global issue” in a recent YouTube video.
Brand's mixture of colourful comedy and news dissections is a hint of what you can expect from his upcoming show, which he's promoting as “the unravelling of the matrix of modern media, politics, sex, fatherhood and death”.
And fatherhood is no doubt at the forefront of Brand's mind ahead of his trip to Sweden, with the comedian giddy with excitement about one of the more unusual Swedish phenomena – being a “lattepappa” (an affectionate word for a father on parental leave, never far from his cup of takeaway coffee).
“I'm going to try and immediately become a latte dad, the first thing I'm going to do when I arrive in Stockholm with my baby under one arm is get a latte in my available free hand, then not do any work for 16 months,” he says.
Indeed, if you think this doesn't sound like the Russell Brand you're familiar with – the one who gets fired from radio stations for insensitive stunts, who's addicted to drugs and sex and everything inbetween – then you're not wrong. He has changed, he says. And a large part of that came from getting married again and having a child (and there's a second on the way).
Brand says his new standup show delves into how parenthood feeds the idea of continual personal rebirth, saying that no one is the person they used to be, and that our conscience is being reborn moment for moment.
“The show is about the necessity of that transition and the veracity of identity. Who you are can change so fundamentally from one ordinary – while personally magical – event like the birth of a child, and that has made me reevaluate everything that I thought I was,” he says.
“I am no longer a person who drinks or take drugs, I'm in a monogamous relationship, and my life is defined by domesticity and caring for chickens, dogs, and cats. And frankly, I prefer it to be honest.”
Photo: Matt Sayles/AP
So with alcohol out of his life, what does Brand 2.0 think about Sweden's state-run alcohol monopoly, Systembolaget?
“I think it would suit me, I think it's the kind of regulation that should be introduced elsewhere. That's precisely the role of the state, to come up with beneficial legislation to help people, otherwise what's the function of the state? Why have a homicide law?” he says.
“People don't advertise beer or alcohol as a medicine to cope with anguish and pain for living a broken system. They advertise it as fun. That's a myth, it's dishonest. Most people drink to deal with pain, or because they're unhappy, or because they're doing jobs they hate. And these are all problems exacerbated, if not caused, by unregulated capitalist consumerism.”
So with a latte in one hand, a baby in the other, and the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll designated to the past, Stockholm sounds like the right kind of fit for Brand, perhaps.
“It bloody does. Life is more sex, nappies, and lattes now, anyway,” he says.
Russell Brand will perform his show RE:BIRTH at the Stockholm Waterfront on Saturday, February 17th. Get tickets here.