Inside Neal Brennan's Strange Comedic World

The stand-up shares his key influences, from Rick James to Seth Meyers
neal brennan
Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

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Neal Brennan has always been a behind-the-scenes kind of guy, which makes his latest move all the more surprising. Brennan's first hour-long special for Comedy Central, Women and Black Dudes, premieres on January 18th, following a long list of directorial and writing gigs for the 40-year-old Philadelphia native. As co-creator of Chappelle's Show, he helped introduce a new generation of catchphrase comedy ("I'm Rick James, bitch!") while earning a trio of Emmy nominations for his work with mercurial comic Dave Chappelle. He co-wrote the modern stoner-movie classic Half Baked and has since directed episodes of Fox's The New Girl and The Mindy Project, alongside sketches for Comedy Central's Inside Amy Schumer. But the lanky, plainspoken Brennan has a simple reason for finally wanting to step into the spotlight: "The material is ready to be seen," he said over the phone from Los Angeles. "You always think it's ready, but then you look back and you're like, 'Ugh. . .' But now it's really, really ready." We asked Brennan to share some of his favorite clips, which offer a window into his influences – comedic and otherwise. John Wenzel

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