The comic creation – criticised by some who claimed Cohen was mocking people with narcissistic personality disorder – won millions of followers with his heart warming portrayal of a man suffering from delusions of grandeur.
One independently minded Guardian book reviewer aside, the entire staff of both The Guardian and the BBC were taken in by the Russell Brand character. He was granted audiences with news editors, publishers and TV producers. His opinion was sought out by Parliamentary Select Committees and quangos set up to combat drug addiction and over crowding in prisons. He regularly held court on issues of politics, economics and global warming, with people far more knowledgable and experienced than himself. And yet, incredibly, everyone was taken in.
In one hilarious scene, he gets on BBC Newsnight and appears to be rumbled by Jeremy Paxman, but he bluffs his way through. In another skit, he is seen trying to kiss Peter Hitchens of The Daily Mail. Owen Jones unquestioningly accepts every deluded statement made by Brand, in an interview broadcast to mass audiences of believers. In one touching scene, Brand likens Owen Jones, who touchingly reciprocates by hailing Brand as ‘this generation’s Johan Hari’.
Eventually, the comic creation took on a life of its own and went in a direction that its author never intended. As with many satirical creations – like Warren Mitchell’s Alf Garnett and Harry Enfield’s Loadsamoney – many people sympathised with the extreme views that the comic was attempting to send up. As Brand drew more and more fans, his creator decided to kill off the character. In his final scene, Brand goes on Newsnight and claims that the 9/11 attacks on America could have been the result of a US Government conspiracy. In the next scene, we see Brand getting off a plane Los Angeles and the first person to greet him is a security guard who kicks Brand so hard in the goolies that he ends up wearing his scrotum for a hat. The pictures fades as we see Brand desperately running for his life, pursued by an angry mob, desperately trying to hold onto his hat.