By Tulis McCall
You know one of the best parts about living under a rock? The best part is that you get to be continually surprised by things, people, places that other people take for granted. You get surprised over and over again while the rest of the informed world is saying, “Been there. Done that.” Neal Brennan:Unacceptable is my most recent discovery.
For me he was a skinny guy in a buttoned up (all the way up) navy blue shirt and skinny jeans. And then I listened while for the next 80 or so minutes Brennan dissected life – his and ours – with a scalpel. He takes no prisoners in this “Stand up traumedy”. Everything is fair game – especially himself.
The world is a mess and Brennan has all of it in his cross hairs. Homeless people who own bikes and tents? He is not for guns but thinks both sides arguments are faulty. Women may be fussy, but men are thoughtless and stupid – how is that EVER going to work? And why should it? Secretly he is fine, but on the outside he is a misfit. He is not a liberal – even though he thinks of himself as Rachel Maddow with a beard. Republicans are having fun – although it is the wrong kind. Liberals have to care all the time and one-up everyone at the same time.
What Brennan does is pull us onto a stationery conveyor belt and then leave the station. This conveyor belt moves slowly enough for him to point out the oddities of the magic pageantry we call life. He wonders where the anti-capitalists get their money. He wonders if alcohol would pass the FDA’s tests today. Oops too late for that. He is troubled my his own existence and would be happy to attend a protest against himself. He explains to us that we have a different relationship with him than he does. We have not turned on him.
His parents were born in the depression and brought it with them to weave it into their tribe of 10 children. Children made their own sandwiches in the Brennan house and popped them in the freezer. On the way to school they would take one out and hope that it was defrosted by lunch time. Usually not.
Most rules are inherently stupid – and yet Brennan is looking for a few to follow. Atheism is for white privileged people (and so it a traffic warning) so who would want to be part of that club? Hanging out with models is not a cool idea because they are only good at one thing. Take them away from molding and it is a train wreck. Wherever his eyes rest or his mind wanders, Brennan has an opinion, and even those he rolls around in his mind or his mouth until a question forms itself, and once it has, he places it on the trail to mark where he was and continues on.
When he arrives at his destination the ground is littered with his questions and observations and the world has been turned pretty much upside down. You will not leave the theatre the same person you were when you entered. Which is as it should be. This is a comedian who scrambles your brain and makes you love the result. I think. Pretty sure about that.
As I said, I had no idea who Neal Brennan was/is. So let me help you out here. Brennan is a Three-time Emmy nominated writer, director, producer, and standup comedian. With Dave Chappelle, Neal co-created Comedy Central’s Chappelle’s Show , for which he received three Emmy nominations. Neal is currently a writer, Creative Consultant, and on-air correspondent on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. He served as Executive Producer on Chris Rock’s latest standup special Chris Rock: Tamborine and as Director on comedian Michelle Wolf’s recent HBO special Michelle Wolf: Nice Lady. He also co-wrote the 2017 feature film The Female Brain alongside comic Whitney Cummings and he can be seen in the Netflix film Fonzo alongside Tom Hardy. His podcast How Neal Feel is consistently at the top of the comedy charts since it launched in 2019.
THAT is SOME ROCK I was living under. Remind me to tell you about the time I met J.J.Abrams and asked him what his work was….
Neal Brennan: Unacceptable – Written and performed by Neal Brennan. Directed by Derek Delguadio
At The Cherry Lane Theatre through November 21 Tickets HERE