Recently on the ULC Monastery blog we wrote about Russell Brand's online ordination in the Universal Life Church and his subsequent role officiating weddings on-stage alongside his often shockingly irreverent, "I-know-you-didn't-just-go-there" comedy routine. Brand once again took his art of uniting hearts and igniting laughs to the stage, this time in the Mullins Center at the University of Massachusetts. This time, however, the comedian married not one, but two couples, integrating humor with the solemnity of marriage for an overall off-the-wall evening.
The decidedly alternative wedding ceremonies came after a late start to a performance characterized by Brand's trademark taboo shock humor, as Kate Evans of The Massachusetts Daily Collegian writes. Brand made up for his tardiness with hugs and kisses doled out to audience members, then dived into the act itself, brandishing his prowess in everything from bawdy jabs at popular culture to improvisational comedy. Referencing the Twilight series of teenage vampire films, the ULC minister made an impertinent joke about what vampire lovers do when their mates accidentally leave their sanitary pads at home, joking that her worst time of the month will end up being his best, and at one point he even invited an audience member up on stage and called his parents on his telephone to notify them that he had converted to homosexuality over his love for another audience member. All in all, it was an awkward evening for the squeamish prude, but a cathartic relief from life's trials for everybody else.
After the unabashedly vulgar comic segment came the ceremonies themselves, which certainly weren't over-sanitized to humor the conservative sensibilities of the unsuspecting puritan. In a spontaneous twist, Brand, who decided to become a minister to perform weddings during his comedy routines, found a couple in the audience at the beginning of the show that he vowed to marry by the end, and this is exactly what he did, bringing together in holy matrimony Vincent and Francesca, who had been together for three years. But that's not all. Brand followed up this wedding with a second that brought together a couple that had been together for seven years, proving that it takes more than seminary school training and a traditional minister's credential to validate a happy, loving union. Truly, it must have been an enjoyable bizarre and surreal evening for couples and audience members alike.
Of course, Brand's style of wedding officiation isn't for everyone, but it goes a long way in showing that a meaningful wedding doesn't have to be a dour and boring affair, and that, on the contrary, it ought to involve a certain degree of whim and fancy, reflecting the joy and happiness of the couple being brought together. Naturally, we hope to see many similar weddings by Brand in the future, as they blur the boundaries between the solemn wedding the joyful one, as well as re-define what constitutes a proper public statement of love and commitment. It's refreshing for once to see a couple getting married in a venue besides a church, without the traditional trappings like the giant white wedding gown and the old, moribund priest half-murmuring a series of obsolete vows. And even to hear a rude joke or two. What's really the harm in that?