Original 'observational' comic David Brenner dies at 78
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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/16/2014 (5 years ago)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
David Brenner's comedy routines were free of cuss words; the majority of his jokes didn't focus on sex, drugs or race, but on the mundane little details of everyday life - in his words, "the dumb things that we say and do." Brenner has lost his long battle with cancer at the age of 78.
Lanky, with an infectious grin and a memorably nasal delivery, David Brenner began working in New York comedy clubs in the late '60s.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Perhaps the original observational comic, Brenner's comedic career took off in the Seventies and went before audiences, live or on television for more than four decades. He was unique in that many comedians of his day wanted to push the envelope with taboo topics. Brenner kept it clean for the most part, and had wide, mainstream success.
A typical gag from Brenner would go: a fellow subway rider asked him if he was reading a newspaper -- "I said yes, stood up, turned the page and sat down again." There was his reaction to the news that there was a pill to stop people from gambling: "What are the odds?"
Fellow comedians Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno attained stardom with a similar approach.
Over 30 years of age when he first took to stand-up comedy, Brenner was already a successful writer. Lanky, with an infectious grin and a memorably nasal delivery, he began working in New York comedy clubs in the late '60s.
Brenner made his first appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson," in January of 1971. Popular at the onset, he went on to become one of the show's most frequent guests, making more than 150 appearances, about half of them as substitute host.
Brenner in an interview recalled that Carson once explained why he was asked so frequently to perform stand-up on the show, as opposed to sitting on the couch for an interview. "He said, 'Because I like to sit back, smoke a cigarette and laugh for six minutes.' "
Brenner was also a regular guest of David Letterman, Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas and other television hosts.
Brenner also hosted a late-night TV talk show "Nightlife," in the fall of 1986. "As an interviewer, he is supportive, never confrontational," the New York Times television critic John J. O'Connor wrote, adding, "He is best with other comedians, genuinely enjoying their routines and clearly eager to give their careers a boost."
"Nightlife," stacked against his old friend Johnny Carson didn't last long, canceled in the spring of 1987.
A minor setback in an otherwise triumphant career, Brenner was one of the most successful comedians of his generation, working regularly in Las Vegas and throughout the country.
Brenner is survived by his wife, Ruth; three sons, Cole, Wyatt and Slade; and a grandson.
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