The British comic – and host of MTV's awards show – anticipates "music and mayhem"

By Lisa Ingrassia
Updated July 25, 2008 09:30 AM

Russell Brand is relatively unknown in the U.S. – but that didn’t stop MTV from tapping the wild-haired British comic to host this year’s Video Music Awards.

What should viewers expect?

“I’m English, so I’ve got impeccable manners,” he tells PEOPLE. “But I’m borderline psychotic in areas of performance. So there will be risks because it’s live. There’s no point of things like that being live if there’s no risk of maddening danger.”

But despite those risks, Brand says, “I’m looking forward to presiding over the night of music and live mayhem.”

A bona fide celebrity in England, the Forgetting Sarah Marshall star admits he’s not recognized in the United States … yet. “I’m just a man with an eccentric haircut.”

So about that trademark coif – just what is his styling secret? “There’s a fairy story about a cobbler who, as he sleeps, some elves [make] shoes in his workshop,” he explains. “Every morning I wake and some sort of barber shop minions have taken care of me. I leap from bed each morning with an incredible scaffold on top of my head, like a bonnet.”

Brand’s chest hair is pretty impressive, too, he claims.

“I imagine it will soon be adopted from everyone from Barack Obama to Barbara Bush,” he boasts.

Is that the elder Barbara, or her 26-year-old granddaughter?

“I don’t mind,” he says diplomatically. “I think the entire Bush family will enjoy my look.”

Complete VMA Coverage