Russell Brand pressed on with a pre-planned stand-up comedy gig on Saturday night as he faced allegations of rape, sexual assault and emotionally abusive behaviour from four women.
The comedian took to the stage later than planned at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre in London just four hours after The Sunday Times published the allegations spanning from 2006 and 2013.
The sold-out crowd were told that Mr Brand, due to take the stage at 7pm, was stuck in traffic – but he eventually arrived at the venue just before 8pm and pressed on with his show.
He was met by cheers as he walked on stage, telling the crowd: “I really appreciate your support. I love you… I’ve got a lot to talk to you about. There are obviously some things I absolutely cannot talk about and I appreciate that you will understand.”
Mr Brand, who has strongly denied any wrongdoing, did not further address the allegations amid the storm, which has seen him dropped by his literary agent, while two of his former employers, the BBC and Channel 4, have put out statements addressing his alleged conduct.
He received a standing ovation at the conclusion of his one-hour comedy set, with one fan in the theatre photographed holding a handmade sign bearing the message: “We stand by you Russell. Stay strong, stay free, we love you”.
“Stay free” is a popular saying on Mr Brand’s YouTube channel, where he draws hundreds of thousands of views with his fringe political commentary, despite accusations of promoting conspiracy theories about Covid-19 vaccines and the war in Ukraine.
His Wembley set lasted around an hour, concluding just after 9pm – as Channel 4 was airing a special Dispatches investigation featuring women making a number of claims about his conduct.
The stand-up set was part of Mr Brand’s Bipolarisaition tour, with the comedian also set to perform in Windsor on Tuesday, before stops in Plymouth and Wolverhampton. The venues have been contacted for comment.
Before the allegations emerged on Saturday, Mr Brand released a YouTube video in which he said he was facing “some very serious allegations that I absolutely refute”.
He said: “These allegations pertain to the time when I was working in the mainstream, when I was in the newspapers all the time, when I was in the movies, and as I’ve written about extensively in my books, I was very very promiscuous.”
“Now during that time of promiscuity, the relationships I had were absolutely, always consensual.”
Mr Brand also claimed “there are witnesses whose evidence directly contradicts the narratives that these two mainstream media outlets are trying to construct”.