Neal Brennan

On this date in 1973, comedian-writer-director Neal Brennan was born in Villanova, Pa., the youngest of 10 children in an Irish-Catholic family. He studied film for a year at New York University, then worked as a doorman at a Greenwich Village comedy club where he met Dave Chappelle. 

He moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1990s to write for television. He teamed with Chappelle in 1997 on the screenplay for the film “Half Baked,” a commercial failure that became a cult classic. He and Chappelle co-created the sketch comedy series “Chappelle’s Show” in 2002, which debuted in 2003 on Comedy Central and aired until 2006. Chappelle left the show without warning in 2005.

Brennan received three Emmy nominations for directing, writing and producing “Chappelle’s Show.” It’s the top-selling television show DVD of all time with nearly 9 million units sold as of this writing in 2019. It was Comedy Central’s highest-rated program after two seasons.

He also wrote material for “Saturday Night Live” when Chappelle and Aziz Ansari were hosts and for Seth Meyers’ speech at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011. His first one-hour stand-up special, “Women and Black Dudes” premiered on Comedy Central in 2014.

Brennan became a contributor to “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” in 2016 as “Trevor’s friend Neal.” In 2017 he released “3 Mics,” his second special on Netflix, followed by an all-new half hour of material in 2019 as part of the Comedians of the World series.

An atheist, Brennan doesn’t mind taking potshots at it, calling it “the height of white privilege.” (The Hollywood Reporter, April 15, 2019): “Think about it: Religion basically says, ‘Hey, can we interest you in an after-life?’ And white people are all like, ‘No, thank you.’ Like, ‘Why, how much better can it be?’ “

On Peter McGraw’s podcast (Sept. 26, 2018), Brennan said: “The only thing that matters to me now is the first-person experience. Legacy is hogwash to me, even any religion. I’ve been shaky at best on religion for the last decade.” 

Brennan in 2012; photo by CleftClips under CC 2.0.

Freedom From Religion Foundation