Neal Brennan

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Neal Brennan
Neal Brennan with paper face.jpg
Brennan in 2012
Born (1973-10-19) October 19, 1973 (age 47)
Villanova, Pennsylvania, U.S.
MediumStand-up, television, film
Years active1995–present
Notable works and roles Edit this at Wikidata

Neal Brennan (born October 19, 1973)[1][2][3] is an American comedian, writer, producer, director, and podcaster.

He is known for co-creating and co-writing the Comedy Central series Chappelle's Show with Dave Chappelle.[4][5][6] By the end of the second season, it was ranked as the most popular Comedy Central show. It premiered in January 2003 and continued until 2006.

Early life[edit]

Brennan lived until the age of six in Villanova, Pennsylvania, a college town near Philadelphia,[1][7] and lived from 1978 to 1986 in Wilmette, Illinois.[8][9] He was born into an Irish Catholic family and is the youngest of 10 children.[1][8][10] According to Brennan, his father's side of the family was funny, as were his five older brothers.[1][10] Brennan said that he realized he was funny and liked comedy at about 8 or 9 years of age; he was already performing planned material for his classmates in a style that emulated comics Richard Lewis, Jerry Seinfeld, and David Brenner.[11] He also watched a large amount of comedy on TV during his high school years, often staying up late to watch Late Night with David Letterman and The Arsenio Hall Show.[11]

Brennan's older brother Kevin became a comedian and writer who started doing stand-up comedy while Neal was still in high school.[9] Neal attended Kevin's performances at the Improv in New York City on weekends,[1] where he would meet comedians such as Ray Romano, Dave Attell, Mike Royce and David Juskow.[11][12] Brennan 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.[8]

Brennan moved to New York to attend film school at NYU, but he dropped out after a year.[9][11][12] He began as a doorman at the now-defunct Boston Comedy Club in Greenwich Village where he met Dave Chappelle, a frequent performer.[2][13] The two became friends, and Brennan would often pitch jokes to Chappelle.[9][13] Brennan also shared an apartment with comedian Jay Mohr while living in New York.[1]

After six months of working as a doorman at the Boston Comedy Club, in 1992, Brennan first performed stand-up at 18 years of age.[3] He later recounted: "I got no laughs"; he didn't perform stand-up again until 1997.[3] Brennan also wrote for The Source magazine in 1992.[8][14]

Brennan was an atheist,[15] but confirmed on the November 18, 2020 episode of his How Neal Feel videocast that he is no longer an atheist after using ayahuasca several times.[16]


Brennan on stage

In the mid-1990s, Brennan moved to Los Angeles. In 1995, he became a writer for the dating show Singled Out, hosted by Jenny McCarthy and Chris Hardwick.[9][11] 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.[9][11][17][18]

In 1997, Brennan and Dave Chappelle collaborated for the first time on the screenplay for the film Half Baked.[11][13] The film was released in January 1998 and starred Chappelle, Jim Breuer, Harland Williams and Guillermo Díaz.[11][19] Half Baked was a commercial failure and received mainly negative reviews but has become a cult classic.[1][20][21]

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."[11] In an interview that same year on Inside the Actor's 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".[22]

Chappelle's Show[edit]

Four years later, Brennan and Chappelle came together to co-create, co-write and co-executive produce the eponymous sketch comedy Chappelle's Show, which premiered in January 2003.[1][5][13] 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.[23] The duo wrote the show's sketches with minimal outside help[3][24] and agreed never to divulge who was responsible for writing which sketch.[4][25]

Brennan directed some sketches in the show's second season, including the sketch featuring Chappelle as musician Rick James.[1][11][17] Brennan was nominated for three Emmy Awards in 2004 for his work on the show as a director, writer and producer.[26][27] By the end of its second season, Chappelle's Show was Comedy Central's highest-rated program.[28]

Members of the musical group the Roots worked as music directors on the second and third seasons of the show.[29][30] Brennan later recommended the band to Jimmy Fallon as his house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.[29][30][31]

Chappelle's Show was doing well and Chappelle had signed a $50 million deal in 2004 to produce two more seasons,[2][5][24][32] but he abruptly left the show in April 2005 prior to the premiere of the show's third season.[2][24][32] He left without warning Brennan or others of the show's crew.[23][24][33][34] 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."[33][35]

2006 to present[edit]

In 2006, Brennan directed and co-wrote the made-for-TV movie Totally Awesome.[26][36] Brennan directed the 2009 film The Goods starring Jeremy Piven.[9][26] In 2011, he directed a series of commercials for the ESPYs.[3][12]

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.[17] Brennan has also written comedy material for the 83rd Academy Awards, as well as for Seth Meyers' speech at the White House Correspondents' Dinner in 2011.[9][37]

Brennan continues to perform stand-up regularly in the Los Angeles area as well as nationally.[37][38] He has also appeared on Last Call with Carson Daly, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Lopez Tonight, and Conan.[9][26][39]

In 2011, Brennan, comedian Moshe Kasher, and DJ Douggpound (Doug Lussenhop of Tim and Eric Nite Live!), started a podcast called The Champs.[40][41] 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."[40] 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. The show has strayed from its guest format on occasion 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.[42] The podcast ended in 2016.[43]

In 2013, Brennan directed 10 episodes of Inside Amy Schumer.[44]

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. It was directed by Drew Barr. John Legend and his Get Lifted partners, Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius, produced the limited engagement. The show has Brennan alternating among three microphones.[45] At the first mic, he reads one-liners from index cards; at the second mic, he talks about dealing with depression and his relationship with his father; and at the third mic, he does traditional stand-up comedy.

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

In 2017, 3 Mics was released as a Netflix original comedy special.

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]

In 2019, Brennan and his friend, actress Bianca Siavoshy, started a podcast called How Neal Feel.[47] 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.


Brennan has said that his comedy influences are Chris Rock,[8] Mort Sahl,[8] Dave Attell,[11] Mike Royce,[11] and David Juskow.[11]



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"



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i 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 Hager, Mike (February 24, 2012). "ComedyFest: Neal Brennan enters Vancouver laughing". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved April 20, 2012.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ a b c Wallenstein, Andrew (August 3, 2004). "Dave Chappelle inks $50 million deal". MSNBC. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  6. ^ Hoffberger, Chase (November 4, 2011). "Saturday Interview - Neal Brennan". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  7. ^ 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.
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  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i King, Scott (June 14, 2011). "Just for Laughs exclusive - Neal Brennan interview". Chicago Now. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  10. ^ 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". Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ a b c Tigges, Jesse (July 13, 2011). "Comedy Q&A: Neal Brennan". Columbus Alive!. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Neal Brennan [@NealBrennan] (10 July 2011). "God is unbelievable! (I'm an atheist)" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  16. ^ "Neal Brennan on his 2nd Ayahuasca Ceremony". How Neal Feel podcast. November 18, 2020.
  17. ^ a b c Neal Brennan at IMDb
  18. ^ 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.
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  21. ^ Kelly, Brendan (January 19, 1998). "Half Baked". Variety. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  22. ^ "Dave Chappelle". Inside the Actors Studio. February 12, 2006. Event occurs at 55:00. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
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  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ Awards for "Chappelle's Show" at IMDb
  28. ^ Gordon, Devin (May 15, 2005). "Fears of a Clown". The Daily Beast. Archived from the original on January 18, 2012. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ 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.
  31. ^ 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.
  32. ^ a b "Chappelle's Story". The Oprah Winfrey Show. February 9, 2006. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  33. ^ a b Bauder, David (July 8, 2006). "Chappelle returns, sort of". Associated Press. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  34. ^ Presenter: Michele Norris (May 16, 2005). "Comedian Chappelle Surfaces in 'Time'". All Things Considered. National Public Radio. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
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  37. ^ 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.
  38. ^ Horn, Trevor; Frields, Philip (October 26, 2011). "Half Baked". American River Current. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  39. ^ Video of Neal Brennan on Conan, September 27, 2011
  40. ^ a b Downs, Gordon (July 20, 2011). "Living On The Edge with Moshe Kasher". Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  41. ^ 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.
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  43. ^ Wright, Megh (March 3, 2016). "This Week in Comedy Podcasts: 'The Champs' Says Farewell". Vulture. Vox Media. Retrieved June 6, 2021.
  44. ^ "Inside Amy Schumer (TV Series 2013– )" – via
  45. ^ Lee, Ashley The Hollywood Reporter (29 January 2016)
  46. ^ Comedians Tackling Depression & Anxiety Makes Us Feel Seen | Laughing Matters | Documentary, retrieved 2019-10-30
  47. ^ "The Year in Comedy Podcasts". Vulture. December 10, 2019.

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