The world of stand-up comedy lost another of its legendary practitioners a few days ago when David Brenner died at the age of 78. Brenner was known for his observational comedy and inspired many comedians to follow his style. A performer for 45 years, he was still doing shows until last December.
He was a long time favorie of Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, where he appeared more than 150 times.
According to Wikipedia, Brenner was born to Jewish parents in 1936 and raised in poor areas of South and West Philadelphia. His father, Louis, was a vaudeville comedian, singer and dancer performing under the stage name of Lou Murphy, who gave up his career and a film contract in order to please Brenner's grandfather, a rabbi, who objected to his working on Shabbat.
As David Colker reported in the Los Angeles Times,
In recent years he played casinos in Las Vegas and elsewhere in the country, and he took a light-hearted look at social and political issues on venues as divergent as MSNBC and the Fox News Channel.We found one of Brenner's stand-up routines from 40 years ago to share with you.
One of his most memorable performances was at the Golden Nugget Hotel in Las Vegas on Sept. 11, 2001, the day of the terrorist attacks. Though the room was half-empty, Brenner went on with the show. At the finish he told the audience, according to a 2002 article in the St. Petersburg Times, "I'm supposed to end with a joke. But for the first time in my career, I'm not going to do that. I'm going to end by telling you that I learned tonight that if you can laugh, you can live. And that means we are going to get through this." He got a standing ovation.
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