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Pink Pony sweatshirt brightens up a Dark Horse podcast

May 23, 2024
By Garland Pollard

This week, the English comedian and actor Russell Brand held a podcast discussion on God with scientist Bret Weinstein. 

Most do not know Weinstein. Many do not know who Brand is; he is a British comedian, TV host and actor, who might be best known in America for his very brief marriage to singer Katy Perry. His career has been full of outrageous television stunts and jokes, but in recent years, his discussions have turned toward the successful results of his recovery from addiction.

Podcaster Weinstein describes himself as an evolutionary biologist; he has quite contrarian views on modern medicine. His show is called Dark Horse; the name comes from a joke where Weinstein’s brother Eric called the duo part of the “intellectual dark web.” 

Both Brand and Weinstein have enormous followings; their channels reach millions each week. Brand is a much bigger name in the podcast sphere, however. He has over 6.7 million subscribers on YouTube, with more across all channels. Locally, he has signed on with Rumble, the video service based on Longboat Key, in Sarasota. To put those statistics in perspective, the morning network news shows, on a good day, average just under three million viewers.

All of this would not be a matter of interest for Boca Grande except for what Brand was wearing during the podcast, which he hosted at his English studio. It was a Pink Pony sweatshirt, with ice cream cone on the front.

Brand was in Boca Grande over the Easter holiday, and made quite a number of appearances on the island, including at the Boca Grande Woman’s Club Dog Show, where he wore the sweatshirt.

Brand and his young family made another appearance, at the Easter Sunrise service at the Boca Grande Lighthouse at Gasparilla Island State Park. Since that Easter service, Brand has been even more intense on the subject of his faith. One of the most frequent mentions of late has been his recent baptism.

In the last few decades, debates between atheists and believers have been sort of a thing; college campuses have had Bill Nye the Science Guy debates with Australian creationist Ken Ham, builder of the Noah’s Ark replica in Kentucky. 

There was a 2009 debate between William Craig and the late Christopher Hitchens. Journalist Hitchens wrote the book “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.” In 2011, Hitchens debated his brother, journalist Peter Hitchens. It is well worth a watch, as they are both funny and make interesting points. Since his death, his younger brother Peter has taken on the same sorts of debates, except that Peter is on the believer side.

The discussion this week kept a friendly tone.

“Dear old Dickey Dawkins,” joked Brand in the podcast. He then quoted Dawkins,  “I rather like those cathedrals!”

Weinstein talked of recent politics, perhaps testing the idea that there was a God present. “There would need to be a God to have a reckoning.” 

Brand retorted back quickly, “I’ve got some good news!”

Weinstein credited Brand for approaching the subject from a place of “humanity and humor” and said that recent calls to religion, at a time of uncertainty in the world, showed that “people are trying to reboot the last thing that worked.” Russell Brand went on to expand on that premise, to say that some were not going to a Margaret Atwood sort of Handmaid’s Tale Christianity, but something entirely different.

“What Methodism bestowed on this country for example,” said Brand. “That there is much that is beautiful that will come from it.”

Back to Boca Grande. There are four churches on the island, and the annual Easter service is one item that adds a giant event on the biggest day of the year for churches, and staffs. It is not an easy thing to put on, and requires organization and volunteers.

What is apparent after this year’s service, however, is that these public events have far more important repercussions than we ever realized. 

One cannot credit an Easter service with a conversion; that is God’s work. But there is a reality and eternal importance to everything that happens here, on this little island stage.

For you never know who will hear the message, and where they will go tell it.

Garland Pollard is the editor of the Boca Beacon. Email

The Pink Pony sweatshirt interview is below.