Interview: Neal Brennan (SF Punch Line Tonight!)

Neal Brennan is a comedian, director, writer most noted for co-creating
Chappelle Show with Dave Chappelle. Brennan’s body of work also includes co-writing the movie Half Baked, directing the movie “The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard”, and most recently a podcast entitled “The Champs” with DJ Dougpound and Oakland’s own (and Courting Comedy favorite) Moshe Kasher. Neal Brennan will be at the San Francisco Punch Line for one night only; (11/1/2011, 8 PM, $15) and you should definitely attend. An exclusive interview after the jump.


Courting Comedy: You’ve recently launched “The Champs” podcast with Moshe Kasher and DJ Dougpound. What’s your favorite aspect of doing the show?

Neal Brennan: My favorite part of the podcast is getting to give listeners/white people access to conversations with black dudes that they would otherwise never get to have or hear. I’m lucky that I have a lot of black friends who are legitimately interesting to talk to.  And I’m also happy to show how funny a guy like Blake Griffin is in the right environment.

And I like the interpersonal dramas between Moshe, Doug and I.  It’s interesting and I really want it to work.

CC: You jokingly refuse to let Moshe rap on the podcast and have numerous anecdotes about hip-hop. Did you ever have any aspirations to rap, produce or DJ?

Brennan: I’m proud to say that I’ve never had an aspirations to produce, rap or DJ.  Eminem is really the only good white MC ever.  Beastie Boys are awesome, but their rhymes are largely wack.  They get by on charm and collective energy.

CC: Was Ving Rhames less or more intimidating when directing him in the sex scene featured in “The Goods”?

Brennan: I gotta say, I didn’t find Ving intimidating at all to work with.  Most actors I work with are such big Chappelle fans that they’re on their best behavior around me.  I loved working with Ving.  He’s a great actor.  He’s also a huge gossip, which is hilariously counter to his appearance.

CC: San Francisco has a reputation and tradition in the greater comedy community. What’s been your experience with the City by the Bay?

Brennan: Almost all of my comedy experience in the Bay has been watching Dave do shows at the Punch Line.  I opened for him a few times 7 or 8 years ago, when I first dabbled with stand-up.  Also, we wrote a bunch of Half Baked up there.

CC: You’ve been doing stand-up for roughly four years, yet have been involved in comedy from a young age. Do you feel you entered performance at the right time or do you regret not hitting the stage sooner?

Brennan: I do wish I’d started stand-up earlier, in that I wish I’d felt that my point of view was legitimate at a younger age.  It always was, but my self-esteem was a little messed up, so I didn’t realize it.  But I’m happy with the progress I’ve made.  And I still look relatively young.  And I’m happy with the stuff I did instead of stand-up.  It made me better as a comic and gives me an in with audiences who liked that part of my career.