Wednesday, August 17, 2016

David Brenner

Jason Ramos, David Brenner, 2016, oil on canvas, 24 x 36 inches (61 x 91.5 cm)
I can't recall my earliest memory of David Brenner, but I knew he'd been around for a while. Every clip he was all lapels, gold chains, and big hair, firmly placing him in the 70's. It was obvious from his age and the reverence toward him that he was the primary influence on a style of observational humor that eventually came to be identified with and popularly epitomized by Jerry Seinfeld. Brenner's heyday was right around when I was born; his 158 appearances on and guest hosting of Carson's Tonight Show made him a household name and presence back then. When I was a bit older in the 90's, I was able to glean that he had been taking a long break from showbiz to deal with a child custody issue. I distinctly remember his comeback stand-up special on HBO in 2000, with its Goodfellas style promo. As I recall he went on stage with a copy of USA Today and improvised jokes from the headlines. I also remember he got married again on stage at the end. My favorite David Brenner joke goes something like, "I hear they're making a pill to cure gambling addiction – c'mon, what are the odds?"

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