Neal Brennan Comedy Bar, Toronto ON, July 18
Published Jul 20, 2015Compartmentalizing his material into three segments, Neal Brennan's conceptual one-man-show is an emotional roller coaster that's totally revealing and entertaining.
Brennan strode on stage and quickly explained why three microphones were set up. The Chappelle's Show co-creator/writer and director (The Goods, Inside Amy Schumer) looked slight and haggard, but he was all business and got laughs easily, even by discussing the premise of his show.
The first mic was for one-liners that didn't fit into his stand-up act. Some were tweets of his, or other non-sequiturs, and he read the best of them after scanning from a few pages. "Getting a neck tattoo is people's way of saying, 'Yeah, minimum wage is fine for me,'" was an early strong one.
The second mic was for serious shit that Brennan promised to pepper with jokes, but the sincere stuff was far too overwhelming. Brennan opened up about his battles with depression and experiences with drugs like Zoloft and ketamine.
He talked about first falling in love at 37 years old and being devastated by that break-up, and every one since, but also admitted that in Hollywood, he was simply one of many star fuckers in the food chain. As the youngest of ten children, he felt unloved by his mother and, luckily, mostly ignored by his abusive, alcoholic father. And he hinted that, since the end of Chapelle's Show and his return to smaller scale stand-up, he feels that his career might be fucked up.
The third mic was designated for Brennan's actual stand-up set and it was often jarring to watch him take to it after the raw confessionals of mic two. His I-knew-it riff on the Bill Cosby scandal was insightfully funny, but nothing got a bigger laugh than his bit on how dumb football players are, but also why it's preposterous that anyone is surprised by their penchant for violence off-field.
"Whenever I see a headline like 'Ray Rice Punches Girlfriend in Elevator,' all I see is 'Football Player Does Football At Wrong Time,'" Brennan deadpanned, perfectly.
A genius writer, Brennan has this performer thing down too and his current show is one of the boldest stand-up spectacles going.