Sunday, February 5, 2017

Dave Chappelle's Co-Writer Neal Brennan Is Doing Stand-Up: Netflix Wins!

Dave Chappelle's making his highly anticipated post-SNL television comeback there, Neal Brennan has a stand-up comedy special circulating there now...and Netflix wins. Big time.

I stumbled upon "3 Mics" by accident, after watching Brennan's promotional interview with Charlemagne and the gang on the The Breakfast Club. His stand up special has been on Netflix for a little under three weeks now, and it's really, really good.

I'm a fan of Brennan by default. In fact, any fan of the Dave Chappelle show (that Brennan co-wrote, co-produced, and directed with his best friend from 2003 to 2005) has already been predisposed to like his thought processes, and have already spent countless hours laughing at his comedy sketches and sense of humour. Repeatedly. For years.

What else has Brennan written? He wrote for "Keenan and Kel," for "All That," for a show called "Singled Out," and of course also for the 1997 movie "Half Baked." He even directed a few shows for Amy Schumer, and wrote for Trevor Noah on The Daily Show...but I do believe that Chappelle's Show will always be his main legacy.

The best part about his stand up special was finally being able to hear him, unfiltered. His best jokes. His life story. His wacky one-liners, and getting to know the man behind all of those ridiculous sketches and the stomping partner of everyone's favourite comedian.

We already know he's a funny dude. He's down. He "gets it" fact he IS it. And he's been cavorting with Chris Rock and his reinstated BFF Dave lately, so if those guys rate him, he HAS to be a cool guy and comedic genius. Neal almost earns respect by default.

Hearing his story, however, gave him another layer, which was obviously intentional. You can tell it took a lot of bravery for him to dig deep into his past, family issues, insecurity, mental health confessions, and relationship history...but he did it. And even not knowing him more than another face on TV, I felt proud of him. It couldn't have been easy to finally step into the spotlight, literally, and tell jokes as himself. About himself.

His "3 Mics" special was just released on Netflix about two weeks ago, and I really do hope that this is a breakthrough in his career...that he deserves. Well, another breakthrough. Because if Chappelle's Show was THE only thing he ever did in life, that would still be OK as well.

But the concept was definitely dope. One mic was used for "One Liners," one for "Emotional Stuff," and the last mic used for "Stand Up" material. He moved effortlessly between the three, and made each component equally appealing...and equally entertaining.

The one liners were typical, thoughts that probably came to him on a whim, that didn't find a place anywhere else, but stood perfectly fine alone. The personal confessions were actually more intense than I expected, but I truly appreciated his stories about battling mental health, and a complicated relationship with his father. His childhood, his subsequent success, his celebrity "worship" (that wasn't the word HE used...), and his place in the world of comedy...all very enlightening. With the third mic, the stand up mic, it was obvious that although this element of his character is pretty new to most of us, it was an element he fit in effortlessly, and one that I hope he flourishes in. He's a funny guy! No two ways about it.

Neal was once quoted as saying, "The relationship is charred. I don't think Dave ever wants to be in showbiz again, and I wouldn't want to work with him. We did the best thing we could have possibly done, and it still ended terribly. What else is there to do?" Thank goodness that didn't turn out to be the case, as he recently wrote for Chappelle's post-election night appearance on Saturday Night Live, followed by the announcement that Chappelle signed on to do three Netflix specials.

The Comedy God's are smiling (and so are comedy fans), and I'm happy to see this bromance come full circle again. And as an unlikely byproduct, I'm also happy to have learned about Neal Brennan the man, and can't wait to see what else the matured and socially awakened versions of these brothers ends up producing. Laughter is needed more now than ever, and their timing couldn't have been more perfect.

Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.

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