Two Comedians, Two Englands

Brit Wit by James Parker
The Atlantic, October 2009

Ricky Gervais and Russell Brand are not partners. Nonetheless, there is something dyadic about these two. Gervais is 47, dumpy and comfortable-looking. He’s a strict materialist: one of his stand-up routines involves reading aloud from the book of Genesis, while the audience falls about laughing. His characteristic expression is a slightly canine leer. Brand is 34, lanky, dark-complexioned, black-clad, immoderately sensual, lightly bearded, and announced in silhouette by an outrageous nimbus of back-combed hair: in full panoply, with his boots and bullet belt and chains and eyeliner, he looks like Chewbacca’s girlfriend. He describes himself as “a spiritual gent” and closes his stand-up act with a pious “Hare Krishna.”

Jennie Rothenberg Gritz is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she edits digital features.

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