Six years after the abrupt and highly-controversial ending to “Chappelle’s Show,” co-creator Neal Brennan headlined a stand-up comedy show at the Punchline in Sacramento on Wednesday, Nov. 2. Star Dave Chappelle walked away from the sketch-comedy show after only two years on-air and a new $50 million contract, leaving Brennan and the rest of the staff in his wake.
Since then, Brennan has directed a feature-length comedy, ‘The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard’ starring Jeremy Piven (2009), and has created a stand-up routine that places him near the top of working comedians today.
Following a one hour stand-up routine, Brennan opened up with The Current staff writer Phillip Frields and sports editor Trevor Horn about his podcast, his act, and the sudden end to the highly-successful show he helped create.
The Current: You do a podcast on iTunes called ‘The Champs.’ How is that going?
Brennan: Yeah. We just did one this week. It was about some hip-oligists or something like that. It’s stupid, but funny.
Who else do you do the podcast with?
I do the podcast with (Moshe Kasher) and (DJ Douggound). We only have blacks guests. I have never had a bad conversation with black people. And also I happen to know a lot of famous black people, like Robert Townsend, Blake Griffin, David Allan Grier. Chris Rock will do it. I am sure Dave (Chappelle) will do it at some point.
How do you come up with your bits?
A lot of times it’s just in conversation. I try to write. I have a show in L.A. every week, so I try to do new material. And I also have a bet with a friend of mine where we have to write an hour by June or there is a $1,000 penalty. So, oh homey, it’s real.
Where do get your inspiration?
Hipocracy. (laughs). Seriously every one of my jokes is total (expletive) across the board, pretty much. Except, (my bit about) texting—the people in that are no (expletive). It’s that 80 percent of people are full of (expletive) in my act. The other 20 percent are sleeping with each other.
Do you feel that you have been more scrutinized about the cancelation of ‘Chappelle’s Show’ than Dave Chappelle himself?
He was on TV talking about it. So he had plenty of scrutiny of his own. The difference between me and him is people are pre-disposed to believe everything he says. And when there is a difference with a famous person and a non-famous person, people are going to believe the famous person 99 times out of 100. And if it’s a famous black dude versus a white dude—you have no chance. Having said that—being against each other when he left and there were conflicting stories on the why and how. People will automatically believe him, where towards me, they are just, ‘well, eh, he’s not famous.’ And you know not famous people lie all the time. Famous people—never lie. (laughs)
You directed ‘The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard’ starring Jeremy Piven in 2009. Will you get back behind the camera?
If they let me. I am doing an episode of ‘The New Girl.’ The thing about directing TV is fun that it takes a week. You do a movie, it takes a year. And it’s good money. And it’s fun and I like the show.
You like to tweet a lot.
What is tweet worthy for you?
If it is topical, if it’s in the news like Kim Kardashian gets divorced—it’s a race to see who can get it. Who can just write the joke. So if there is a news story I will write that or just a general observation. If no one said it is the first criteria, and if it’s funny is the second. The thing about Twitter is, ‘well, so-and-so did that bit two months ago.’ And it’s like, why would I steal that joke—what’s the purpose?
Lastly, for young aspiring comedians—what is your advice?
I used to pay people so that I would smile. If a friend came, I would give them $200, and tell them to give me twenty bucks back every time I smiled for more than three seconds. The first time I lost a hundred and twenty bucks. And in terms of smiling and laughing and having fun on stage is if you look at the audience laughing—you will laugh. It sounds odd because I would just look into nothing and then I started looking at people face and they are like, ‘ha ha’, and it’s impossible not to laugh. It reminds you of the joke in the first place.