Russell Brand takes his Messiah Complex to the Middle East

RUSSELL Brand plans to perform a controversial new comedy show dissecting religious belief in mosques and synagogues during a tour of the Middle East's trouble spots.

The star, notorious for his explicit material, said he would take his "Messiah Complex" tour to Israel, Lebanon and Palestine, performing wherever he is allowed to deliver his show free from censorship.

The tour will open in August in Abu Dhabi, the Gulf state where Islam is the official religion. After two shows in the UAE, Brand will travel to Beirut, for a performance in the 9,000-seat Biel leisure centre.

The Essex-born comic actor, 38, promised a "dissection of various social and religious figures and the reality of their lives through comparisons of each other."

The Messiah Complex will analyse a "mental disorder where you think you might be the messiah. Did Jesus have it? What about Che Guevara, Gandhi, Malcolm X and Hitler? All these men have shaped our lives and influenced the way we think."

Brand, 38, said: "I am going to tour the world with Messiah Complex, causing bother and excitement and offering opinions that have not been either solicited or thought through.

"Of course I'll be in English speaking countries (UK, Ireland, US, Canada) but also Scandinavia, Russia, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine; anywhere that will have me to be honest and that are relaxed about free speech.

"As well as theatres I will be appearing in prisons, drug rehabs, social network HQs, universities, nationalist organisations, Mosques, foreclosed houses, protest sites, Synagogues and in people's private homes."

Brand could face opposition to his planned Israel appearance. Some entertainers have called for a boycott of the state in protest at the Government's alleged mistreatment of Palestinians.

The film star and author, who will join the BBC1 Question Time panel in a fortnight, dedicated his tour to "the four men that are its subject, Che Guevara, Gandhi, Malcolm X and Jesus - I know this is what they would have wanted. If this is the end of the world I'm going to go out laughing with an erection."

Brand argued: "Their images are used to represent ideas that often do not relate to them at all. Would Gandhi be into Apple? Would Che Guevara endorse Madonna? Would Jesus be into Christianity?

"All great people are flawed, all of us, flawed people are capable of greatness and for every identifiable icon there is an anonymous mob of unrecognised bods doing all the admin and heavy lifting. This show looks at the importance of heroes in this age of atheistic disposability. Plus there's sex. Obviously."

Brand appealed for religious tolerance in the aftermath of the Woolwich murder of Drummer Lee Rigby by a suspected Islamic extremist. "Islam, when practised by normal people, is not an advocacy for violence," he wrote. "The murderers want angry patriots to desecrate mosques and perpetuate violence. How futile their actions seem if we instead leave flowers at each other's places of worship."

In an interview this week Brand discussed the breakdown of his marriage to pop star Katy Perry. Brand had remained faithful to Perry during their 14 month marriage but admitted that his appetite for sex made monogamy a struggle. "I've given over too much of my life to its pursuit. And I've probably harmed other people, by being selfish," he said.

The world tour arrives in Britain in October.

Topics:  comedy editors picks religion russell brand

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