Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Russell Brand & SNL Wage War On The British Gangster Genre

Mocking Guy

      Thanks to the collective forces of Twitter and the prescience of a talented writer, I have another hilarious video to present to the blogging community. A casual presumption from one of my growing Twitter friends, Alexander Hammond, author of "Tales From the Edge of Forever," proves to be a perfectly apt, riotous encapsulation of my keen tastes for comedic parodies.
      Rising actor and funny man, Russell Brand of Forgetting Sarah Marshall fame, and more importantly, last Saturday's host of the eminent American skit show Saturday Night Live, has helped orchestrate a fantastically amusing parody of British Gangster films—and yes, I am still shocked at this development. 
      It has been a long time since I can remember ever praising anything that SNL has tinkered with. What they touch, in large part, assumes a form of dull excess, marred by a mildewy tinge of stale humor. I've often contended—to the everlasting embitterment of my friends—that this long running skit show is a stubborn fossil of TV's golden age, trailing behind a rapidly modernizing world of entertainment; a dying breed of the satirizing comedy format. 
      Both the advent and meteoric growth of Internet based humor—where videos go viral overnight, and talentless hacks become sensations—cannot, in any capacity, sustain this old form of in-your-living-room-on-your-TV-set entertainment. These disparate entities are at impervious odds with one another, Clash of the Titans-style. There is no harmonious coexistence. 
      However, every once in awhile, I am forced to eat my diarrhea-of-the-mouth induced pontifications, and swallow any pride because SNL can...and will surprise me. The combination of its inventive structure and guns blazing style—think Jizzed In My Pants and I'm On A Boat—provide an occasionally captivating forum for appreciable, and relevant mockeries of today's goings on. Well, this is another startling example.
      Anyone who has ever seen a Guy Ritchie film can attest to my next statement. If you've enjoyed any of Madonna's ex-husband's movies, then you've assuredly been bombarded by droves of imperceptible, cockney accents. Half the time, you cannot reasonably make sense of what is being said. Although, these modes of conversation provide riveting and hilarious interactions—there's a gazillion scenes in Snatch worth memorizing—they are often marked by a tinge of mystery. 
      In fact, I just re-watched Snatch last night, and as much as I absolutely love this film, there are still spurts of dialogue that I cannot discern. What the heck is Mickey, the god-awful "Pikey," uttering? His boxing scenes and screen presence are fully enrapturing, but whenever he opens his mouth, all I can do is laugh; though I have no idea what I'm laughing at. This video suggests an answer; I'll just never know.

      In honor of this truthfully horrific dilemma (I'm a cinephile), Russell Brand teams with SNL to create an inventive skit that pokes fun at the British gangster genre of films. In the vein of any classic Guy Ritchie film, it is marred by layers of vocal abstruseness.
       In this most recent SNL parody, Russell Brand maintains his signature style. Brand's brand of humor is defined by a bombastic, but offbeat mordacity. His adeptness for infusing an adventitious comedic style with a strongly idiosyncratic spirit is surprisingly charismatic. The character that he portrays in this video is seemingly irrelevant, yet frighteningly charming—this contradictory spirit is the Brand trademark. If you don't believe me, then you most certainly missed those audacious dreadlocks on his head; it's Bob Marley meets Aldous Snow.
      Bill Hader and Fred Armisen anchor the skit. Admittedly, I'm not too familiar with either of them. However, the provision of laughter does not require any prior familiarity. There is an undeniable, standalone quality that allows this video to flourish, absent any potentially skewed preconceptions concerning the actors shticks. The combination of the faces, the mannerisms, the timing, the pacing, and the immeasurably priceless mock-quality essence of this spoof, all adds up to one deafening, and virtuous snapshot of the awesome British gangster imprint
      The British gangster genre has provided a wealth of brilliantly well-executed films, such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Layer Cake, Snatch, Brighton Rock, The Long Good Friday Get Carter and a host of others. You will certainly not confuse this brief spoof with any of these fine masterpieces. But for one fleeting, purely sarcastic, and visceral moment, you will undoubtedly rejoice in the oft-kilter, ingenious spirit of this imitative caricature of British crime films. It is as much an homage to film greatness, as it is, a no-holds-barred lampoon fest. Enjoy.

*The attributive source of the original video can be found at this link below:


  1. This was utterly brilliant. SNL can still surprise once in while. I know what you mean about Mickey's scenes in Snatch. Subtitles, please.

  2. I once tried speaking with a cockney accent at my Phonetics class at college, and it wasn't easy :) It was much easier for me to speak with a Scottish accent, although RP English remains my best :))

  3. SNL with Russell brand was real funny. He is pretty spontaneous and love the parodycommericals as well.

  4. This was both brilliant and slightly painful, since I love the British Gangster movies so, but it was made with love so I can take it. And Bill Hader always gives me a good laugh. You really do have to watch a bunch of British gangster films before you can finally understand them, when I show one to my parents, I do always have to put subtitles on.

    And Good ol' Mickey. His accent was hilarious. And apparently all Brad Pitt. If I'm remembering the commentary right, they mentioned Pitt couldn't really do the proper accent, so he just made up some convoluted nonsense, which made everyone chuckle so they kept it.

  5. @ Melissa

    Subtitles would be a good option. And yes, SNL did surprise me this time around. I forgot the show was still on.

    @ Dezmond

    Lol! I'm sure that was a funny display. I know I couldn't pull a cockney accent off. It's distinctive for a reason, plus it relies too much on rhyming slang. RP English is MUCH easier to understand.

  6. @ thinkingcap

    Parodies can be really bizarre, but when done genuinely, they can be immensely funny. SNL nailed it with this one.

    @ M. Hufstader

    It was a little painful...but the hilarity overruled the inanity.

    Forget it, my mother would never understand some of the traditional 'British gangster film' dialogue. Half my friends can't even grasp it. For me, it's a work in progress.

    That's interesting about Pitt. That approach sort of makes sense because his character was virtually incoherent.

  7. I am trying to link all movie blogs..You can link yours too

  8. thinkingcap,

    Thanks for linking my blog!

  9. Russell Brand is a C**T!

  10. Other than the faux British film, this episode of SNL was pretty boring. I expected much more from Russell. I recently watched the Elton John episode, and it was hands-down hilarious. Check him out playing punk music with the Queen! Here is a link - http://beta.dishonline.com/shows/13021-saturday_night_live/videos/842851-elton_john
    Most of the new SNL episodes are available to stream free from my employer, DISH Network.