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Neal Brennan
Brennan in April 2012
Born (1973-10-19) October 19, 1973 (age 50)
Villanova, Pennsylvania, U.S.
MediumStand-up, television, film
Years active1995–present
Relative(s)Kevin Brennan (brother) Edit this at Wikidata

Neal Brennan (born October 19, 1973) is an American comedian, writer, producer, director, and podcaster. He is best known for co-creating and co-writing the Comedy Central series Chappelle's Show (2003–2006) with Dave Chappelle and for his Netflix stand-up comedy special 3 Mics (2017).

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Neal Brennan on Dave Chappelle | 2019 Mark Twain Prize | Watch on Netflix
  • Neal Brennan: 3 Mics - Student Debt | Netflix Is A Joke
  • Neal Brennan: Blocks | Official Trailer | Netflix


Early life

Brennan was born in Villanova, Pennsylvania, on October 19, 1973,[1][2][3] the youngest of 10 children born into a family of Irish Catholic descent.[1][4][5] He lived in Villanova until the age of six,[1][6] moving with his family in 1978 to Wilmette, Illinois.[4][7] According to Brennan, his father's side of the family was funny, as were his five older brothers.[1][5] He has said that he realized he was funny and liked comedy at about 8 or 9 years of age, and had already been performing material for his classmates in a style that emulated comedians David Brenner, Richard Lewis, and Jerry Seinfeld.[8] He watched a large amount of comedy on TV during his high school years, often staying up late to see Late Night with David Letterman and The Arsenio Hall Show.[8]

Brennan's older brother Kevin became a comedian and writer who started doing stand-up comedy while Brennan was still in high school.[7] Brennan would spend weekends attending Kevin's performances at The Improv in New York City,[1] where he would meet comedians such as Dave Attell, David Juskow, Ray Romano, and Mike Royce.[8][9] He said in an interview with Independent Film Channel (IFC) that after watching his brother do stand-up, he realized it was possible to make a living in comedy.[4] He moved to New York to attend film school at NYU, but he dropped out after a year.[7][8][9] He began as a doorman at the now-defunct Boston Comedy Club in Greenwich Village where he met frequent performer Dave Chappelle.[2][10] The two became friends and Brennan would often pitch jokes to Chappelle.[7][10] Brennan also shared an apartment with comedian Jay Mohr while living in New York.[1]


Early career

Brennan performing in April 2013

After six months of working as a doorman at the Boston Comedy Club, Brennan first performed stand-up in 1992, at 18 years of age.[3] He later recounted that he "got no laughs" and did not perform stand-up again for five years.[3] He also wrote for The Source magazine in 1992.[4][11]

In the mid-1990s Brennan moved to Los Angeles. In 1995, he became a writer for the dating show Singled Out which was hosted by Jenny McCarthy and Chris Hardwick.[7][8] This was followed by writing jobs for the game show Bzzz! in 1996, the sketch comedy-variety show All That from 1996 to 1997, and the teen sitcom Kenan & Kel in 1997.[7][8][12][13]

In 1997, Brennan and Dave Chappelle collaborated for the first time on the screenplay for the film Half Baked.[8][10] The film was released in January 1998 and starred Chappelle, Jim Breuer, Harland Williams, and Guillermo Díaz.[8][14] Half Baked was a commercial failure and received mainly negative reviews but has become a cult classic.[1][15][16]

In a 2006 interview, Brennan referred to the period of the film's release as "probably the worst year of my life, creatively and personally."[8] In an interview that same year on Inside the Actors Studio, Chappelle recounted how he and Brennan lost touch with each other after the release of Half Baked, saying that it was "like leaving a crime scene".[17]

Chappelle's Show

Brennan and Chappelle came together to co-create, co-write, and co-executive produce the eponymous sketch comedy Chappelle's Show[18][19][20] which premiered in January 2003.[1][10][19] Brennan said that he and Chappelle read the book Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live (2002), by Tom Shales when they started writing sketches for the show, and found the book very helpful.[21] The duo wrote the show's sketches with minimal outside help[3][22] and agreed never to divulge who was responsible for writing which sketch.[18][23]

Brennan directed some sketches in the show's second season, including the sketch featuring Chappelle as musician Rick James.[1][8][12] Brennan was nominated for three Emmy Awards in 2004 for his work on the show as a director, writer and producer.[24][25] By the end of its second season Chappelle's Show was Comedy Central's highest-rated program.[26]

Members of the musical group the Roots worked as music directors on the second and third seasons of the show.[27][28] Brennan later recommended the band to Jimmy Fallon as his house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.[27][28][29]

Chappelle's Show was doing well and Chappelle had signed a $50 million deal in 2004 to produce two more seasons,[2][19][22][30] but he abruptly left the show in April 2005 prior to the premiere of the show's third season.[2][22][30] He left without warning Brennan or others of the show's crew.[21][22][31][32] As a result, the premiere of season three was delayed; Brennan compiled the remaining sketches and aired them in July 2006 as the "lost episodes."[31][33]

The Champs podcast

In 2011, Brennan, comedian Moshe Kasher, and DJ Douggpound (Doug Lussenhop) started a podcast called The Champs.[34][35] Kasher said of the podcast: "It's Doug dropping sound effects and beats over me and Neal kind of hosting an hour of ridiculous chat. We have a rotating black guy guest, there's a different black guest every week."[34] Guests on the show included actor/comedians Wayne Brady, Chris Rock, Mario Joyner, Shawn and Marlon Wayans, David Alan Grier, adult film star Lexington Steele, rapper Too $hort, and professional basketball player Blake Griffin. On occasion the show has strayed from its regular format with guests such as comedian and actor Bobby Lee, former pornographic actress Sasha Grey, former Major League Baseball player Jose Canseco, and comedian/actor Aziz Ansari. In 2014 The Champs was named "Best Podcast" as part of LA Weekly's "Best of L.A." issue.[36] The podcast ended in 2016.[37]

3 Mics

In 2015, Brennan developed and performed a comedy show, 3 Mics, in Los Angeles. He brought it to New York City in 2016, opening on March 3 at the Lynn Redgrave Theater. The show features Brennan alternating between three microphones; he uses the first microphone to read one-liners from index cards, the second microphone to talk about dealing with depression and his relationship with his father, and the third microphone to perform traditional stand-up comedy.[38] In 2017, 3 Mics was released as a Netflix original comedy special.

How Neal Feel podcast

In 2019, Brennan and his friend, actress Bianca Siavoshy, started a podcast called How Neal Feel.[39] The duo have interviewed several of Brennan's personal friends including Jimmy Carr, Blake Griffin, Adam Levine, and Chris Rock on the weekly podcast that largely consists of the duo talking about current events and their personal lives. Features on the show include Doc Watch, in which they discuss documentaries they've recently watched; Neal's Gon' 'Pologize, in which Neal apologizes for saying something offensive; Dumb Purchase, where Neal shows the viewers something he frivolously purchased, and Emails, a segment in which listeners ask Bianca and Neal for advice and opinions.


In August 2021, Brennan's one-man show Unacceptable debuted at New York City's Cherry Lane Theater with acclaimed magician, author, artist Derek DelGaudio as director.[40] Upon the close of the show in November 2021, Brennan announced that the show would tour in 2022. It was released on Netflix in 2022, titled Neal Brennan: Blocks.

Other work

In 2006, Brennan directed and co-wrote the made-for-TV movie Totally Awesome.[24][41] He directed the 2009 film The Goods.[7][24] In 2011, he directed a series of commercials for the ESPYs.[3][9]

As an actor, Brennan had small roles in the films Half Baked and Get Him to the Greek. He also appeared in various sketches on Chappelle's Show.[12] Brennan has also written comedy material for the 83rd Academy Awards, as well as for Seth Meyers's speech at the White House Correspondents' Dinner in 2011.[7][42]

Brennan continues to perform stand-up regularly in the Los Angeles area as well as nationally.[42][43] He has also appeared on Last Call with Carson Daly, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Lopez Tonight, and Conan.[7][24][44] In 2013, Brennan directed 10 episodes of Inside Amy Schumer.[45]

In 2016, he became a regular writer and contributor to The Daily Show as "Trevor's friend Neal".

On October 10, 2019, he was featured in a 30-minute YouTube documentary created by SoulPancake in collaboration with Funny or Die called Laughing Matters, wherein a variety of comedians discuss mental health.[46]


Brennan has said that his comedy influences are Chris Rock,[4] Mort Sahl,[4] Dave Attell,[8] Mike Royce,[8] and David Juskow.[8]

Personal life

Brennan described himself as an atheist in July 2011,[47] but stated in November 2020 that he is no longer an atheist after using ayahuasca several times.[48] Brennan is the younger brother of stand-up comedian and podcaster Kevin Brennan.[1][4][7]



Year Title Role Notes
1996 Singled Out Writer
1996–1997 All That Writer
1997 Kenan & Kel Writer
2003–2004 Chappelle's Show Creator, writer, director
2006 Totally Awesome Writer, director
2012 The Half Hour Performer and writer Episode: "Neal Brennan"
2012 Attack of the Show! Host
2014 Neal Brennan: Women and Black Dudes Performer, writer, director
2014–present The Approval Matrix Host
2013 Inside Amy Schumer Director
2016–present The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Himself (contributor)
2017 Neal Brennan: 3 Mics Performer, writer, director Netflix Special
2018 Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee Featured guest Episode: "Red Bottom Shoes Equals Fantastic Babies"
2019 Comedians of the World Performer and writer Episode: "Neal Brennan"
2019 Seth Meyers: Lobby Baby Director Netflix Special
2022 Neal Brennan: Blocks Performer, writer Netflix Special



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Eells, Josh (August 7, 2009). "Novice Director, a Veteran of Comedy". The New York Times. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d Leung, Rebecca (February 11, 2009). "Chappelle's Trip To The Top". CBS News. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e Downs, Gordon (June 22, 2011). "Obama, Twitter and Pokez: The Neal Brennan Sketch Comedy Diet". Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Neal Brennan talks about his influences, writing race-sensitive material and the state of contemporary comedy". November 30, 2011. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  5. ^ a b McGraw, Dr. Peter; Warner, Joel (February 14, 2012). "Humor Code Q & A (Unabridged): Neal Brennan on Life after Chappelle's Show, Failed Irish Jokes and Feeding the Comedy Baby". Archived from the original on 2017-12-01. Retrieved June 24, 2023.
  6. ^ Holmes, Pete (November 23, 2011). "You Made It Weird: Neal Brennan". (Podcast). Nerdist Industries. Event occurs at 19:07. Archived from the original on January 25, 2012. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j King, Scott (June 14, 2011). "Just for Laughs exclusive - Neal Brennan interview". Chicago Now. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Maniaci, Paul (September 2, 2006). "Neal Brennan". Archived from the original on April 19, 2012. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  9. ^ a b c Tigges, Jesse (July 13, 2011). "Comedy Q&A: Neal Brennan". Columbus Alive!. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  10. ^ a b c d Ogunnaike, Lola (February 18, 2004). "A Comic Who Won't Hold Back; Nothing Is Out of Bounds For Dave Chappelle's Show". The New York Times. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  11. ^ Holmes, Pete (November 23, 2011). "You Made It Weird: Neal Brennan". (Podcast). Nerdist Industries. Event occurs at 56:09. Archived from the original on January 25, 2012. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  12. ^ a b c Neal Brennan at IMDb
  13. ^ Rogan, Joe (April 12, 2012). "The Joe Rogan Experience, Episode #205". (Podcast). Event occurs at 1:47:54. Archived from the original on April 17, 2012. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  14. ^ Ogunnaike, Lola (January 18, 1998). "Half Baked (1998) FILM REVIEW; Marijuana Moments, Many of Them". The New York Times. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  15. ^ Flannigan, W. (July 18, 2011). "Taking the Leap with Neal Brennan". Archived from the original on May 9, 2012. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  16. ^ Kelly, Brendan (January 19, 1998). "Half Baked". Variety. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  17. ^ "Dave Chappelle". Inside the Actors Studio. February 12, 2006. Event occurs at 55:00. Retrieved April 20, 2012.[dead YouTube link]
  18. ^ a b Hager, Mike (February 24, 2012). "ComedyFest: Neal Brennan enters Vancouver laughing". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved April 20, 2012.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ a b c Wallenstein, Andrew (August 3, 2004). "Dave Chappelle inks $50 million deal". MSNBC. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  20. ^ Hoffberger, Chase (November 4, 2011). "Saturday Interview - Neal Brennan". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  21. ^ a b King, Scott (June 16, 2011). "What really happened with Chappelle's Show and more: Neal Brennan interview Part 2". Chicago Now. Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on December 11, 2011. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  22. ^ a b c d Susman, Gary (May 6, 2005). "Half-Baked Theories". Archived from the original on April 21, 2009. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  23. ^ Rogan, Joe (June 14, 2011). "The Joe Rogan Experience, Episode #114". (Podcast). Event occurs at 1:15:22. Archived from the original on May 5, 2012. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  24. ^ a b c d Nave, Howie (March 21, 2012). "'Chappelle's Show'writer debuts at Tahoe Improv". Tahoe Daily Tribune. Archived from the original on 2012-05-01. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  25. ^ Awards for "Chappelle's Show" at IMDb
  26. ^ Gordon, Devin (May 15, 2005). "Fears of a Clown". The Daily Beast. Archived from the original on January 18, 2012. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  27. ^ a b Gallagher, Danny (February 27, 2009). "The Roots are ready to rock, rap, jazz and even disco the set of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon". The Huffington Post. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  28. ^ a b Coyle, Jake (February 24, 2009). "The Roots: House-band gig 'enabled us to survive'". SeattlePi. Hearst Communications. Associated Press. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  29. ^ Deggans, Eric (March 1, 2009). "Hip-hop band the Roots prepares for TV gig on 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon'". Tampa Bay Times. Archived from the original on December 12, 2012. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  30. ^ a b "Chappelle's Story". The Oprah Winfrey Show. February 9, 2006. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  31. ^ a b Bauder, David (July 8, 2006). "Chappelle returns, sort of". Associated Press. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  32. ^ Presenter: Michele Norris (May 16, 2005). "Comedian Chappelle Surfaces in 'Time'". All Things Considered. National Public Radio. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  33. ^ Ogunnaike, Lola (July 6, 2006). "The Long-Awaited, Albeit Brief, Return of Dave Chappelle". The New York Times. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  34. ^ a b Downs, Gordon (July 20, 2011). "Living On The Edge with Moshe Kasher". Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  35. ^ Rogan, Joe (August 17, 2011). "The Joe Rogan Experience, Episode #131". (Podcast). Event occurs at 1:49:07. Archived from the original on May 5, 2012. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  36. ^ "Best Podcast Los Angeles 2014 — The Champs". LA Weekly. 36 (46). October 2–8, 2014. Retrieved September 29, 2014.
  37. ^ Wright, Megh (March 3, 2016). "This Week in Comedy Podcasts: 'The Champs' Says Farewell". Vulture. Vox Media. Retrieved June 6, 2021.
  38. ^ Lee, Ashley The Hollywood Reporter (29 January 2016)
  39. ^ "The Year in Comedy Podcasts". Vulture. December 10, 2019.
  40. ^ Uitti, Jake (8 September 2021). "Neal Brennan and Derek DelGaudio on Grey Areas and Talent Traps". Interview. Retrieved September 10, 2021.
  41. ^ Hammer, Tim (October 7, 2007). "LAist Interview: Neal Brennan". LAist. Archived from the original on July 17, 2009. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  42. ^ a b Warner, Joel; McGraw, Peter (March 1, 2012). "The Humor Code: Neal Brennan on 'Comedic Polymaths' and the Future of Funny". Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  43. ^ Horn, Trevor; Frields, Philip (October 26, 2011). "Half Baked". American River Current. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  44. ^ Video of Neal Brennan on Conan, September 27, 2011
  45. ^ "Inside Amy Schumer (TV Series 2013– )" – via
  46. ^ Comedians Tackling Depression & Anxiety Makes Us Feel Seen | Laughing Matters | Documentary, retrieved 2019-10-30
  47. ^ Neal Brennan [@NealBrennan] (10 July 2011). "God is unbelievable! (I'm an atheist)" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  48. ^ "Neal Brennan on his 2nd Ayahuasca Ceremony". How Neal Feel podcast. November 18, 2020. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21.

External links

This page was last edited on 27 December 2023, at 06:39
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