Why yes, I am reading that newspaper.
March 16, 2014 8:10 AM   Subscribe

Philadelphia native and comedian David Brenner has passed away at age 78.

Born in South Philadelphia, Mr. Brenner served as a cryptographer in the United States Army 101st Airborne Division. After discharge from the Army, Mr. Brenner went on to attend Temple University in Philadelphia where he majored in mass communications and worked for campus radio station WRTI-FM. After graduation, Brenner worked at television station KYW-TV in Philadelphia.

Mr. Brenner started his career making documentaries, writing and producing over 115 documentaries, but then realized "...that nothing [he] had done on TV changed one damn thing", so he "quit trying to solve the problems and decided to make people laugh about them," and pursued a career in comedy.

Mr. Brenner first appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1971, and went on to appear on The Tonight Show 158 times, the most of any guest on that show.

Brenner released the comedy album Excuse Me, Are You Reading That Paper?, based on an incident where he was riding on public transportation. Brenner was sitting on a newspaper when a fellow passenger asked Mr. Brenner if he was reading that newspaper. Mr. Brenner said he was, stood up, turned a page, and sat back down on the newspaper.

Mr. Brenner was honored as The Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Person of the year in 1984, and inducted into that organization's Hall of Fame in 2003.

Mr. Brenner is survived by three sons: Cole, Slade, and Wyatt.
posted by Rob Rockets (33 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

posted by pracowity at 8:12 AM on March 16 [4 favorites]

posted by tzikeh at 8:32 AM on March 16

posted by disclaimer at 8:56 AM on March 16

posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:19 AM on March 16

A fixture of 70's television. Another piece of my childhood slips away.

posted by davebush at 9:28 AM on March 16 [2 favorites]

This is vurry, vurry, vurry sad news.

posted by Sys Rq at 9:29 AM on March 16

Here is is on The Daily Show

And a recent-ish interview on CBS

Very funny man.
posted by readery at 9:30 AM on March 16 [1 favorite]

RIP. He was a funny bastard.
posted by jonmc at 9:34 AM on March 16

As a teenager growing up in Philly in the 1970s, Brenner was the quintessential local boy who made it big. His choice of family over career (which he always said was no choice) remains an inspiration. It is not everyone who reaches the top and keeps his feet on the ground.

RIP neighbor.
posted by three blind mice at 9:45 AM on March 16 [1 favorite]

posted by marimeko at 9:59 AM on March 16

posted by DaddyNewt at 10:03 AM on March 16

This made me really sad. While I can't quote any of his bits, he was an undeniably important part of the comedy landscape - a direct through-line to Seinfeld and Paul Reiser, to name just two.

Also amazed to learn he was married to Tai Babilonia.
posted by Mchelly at 10:10 AM on March 16 [1 favorite]


(and a link to this anecdote, which I think is sweet, from the deleted thread.)
posted by scody at 10:13 AM on March 16 [3 favorites]

posted by Thorzdad at 10:34 AM on March 16

posted by fairmettle at 10:57 AM on March 16

He used to make me laugh out loud. Lived his radio program from a while back. Too bad...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 11:09 AM on March 16

posted by pt68 at 11:17 AM on March 16

posted by Joey Michaels at 12:26 PM on March 16

He was also an unlikely ladies' man and always had a stunning woman on his arm.
posted by Devils Slide at 12:35 PM on March 16

Ladies love funny guys, dude.
posted by jonmc at 12:41 PM on March 16

David Brenner's accent, stories and extra-wide lapels on Carson's show all helped make him of of my early crushes.

On preview: yes, many women really do love funny guys. It sounds as if he was a grounded, decent human being as well, which is also sexy.
posted by maudlin at 12:43 PM on March 16

Well shit.

I had no idea he was that old [b. 1936], he seemed perpetually 45 in all the years I saw him.

His wiki entry is interesting. "After high school, he largely hung out on the street corners for two years, followed by two years in the army, serving in the 101st Airborne and as a cryptographer of the 595th Signal Corp in Boblingen, Germany.". "He also wrote five books".
posted by vapidave at 12:54 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]

David Brenner's accent, stories and extra-wide lapels on Carson's show all helped make him of of my early crushes.

As someone who also grew up in Philly, his accent always seemed New Yorkish to me.

posted by scalefree at 12:57 PM on March 16

posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 1:13 PM on March 16


and today I learned that Professor Irwin Corey is still alive (99!)

but I digress...
posted by hal9k at 1:19 PM on March 16

posted by zardoz at 1:26 PM on March 16

In the 1970s, you couldn't do a full revolution of a VHF knob without finding him on TV somewhere. And to think, he had so many layers beyond that: cryptographer, documentarian, engaged to Tai Babilonia.

posted by jonp72 at 1:50 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]

posted by tonycpsu at 3:32 PM on March 16

That he was 78 is freaking me out and that so few people commented on his this makes me sad. He made me laugh so hard when I was 10, 12. I feel old, but this isn't about me.
posted by cherrybounce at 7:21 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]

Reading various articles about him the past couple of days, two things stuck out for me:

1. He won an Emmy award for documentary film making *before* he started his stand up career. (That might be why his age at the time of his death is surprising for some. He wasn't a kid when he started showing up on TV.)

2. His relationship with Tai Babalonia. Some stories said they were only ever engaged. Some said they were married, divorced, then he remarried. Others said he was married to Tai at the time of his death. Wonder which is true.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 8:40 PM on March 16

He was the first comedian I ever enjoyed listening to (well, besides the Smothers Brothers, but theirs was more an act, as opposed to a routine). I felt like such an adult when I got his jokes. RIP.
posted by Kokopuff at 10:55 AM on March 17 [2 favorites]

My Appreciation, by Paul Reiser. Really lovely.
posted by Mchelly at 8:27 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]

« Older Missed it by this much.   |   Gloria Gaynor/Survivor mashup Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments