To use the parlance of our times, Neal Brennan has big dick energy.
Certain comedy requires a very specific kind of confidence. It’s a confidence that borders on arrogance but is still somehow relatable and approachable. Call it BDE, call it whatever you want. Point is, Neal Brennan has it.
Brennan’s Off-JFL show, Here We Go, isn’t a complicated hour of avant-garde comedy that you need an MFA and a protractor to understand. It is, as he told me when I interviewed him, a show about what’s wrong with him. And, while that list is long, Here We Go isn’t like listening to someone’s whiny therapy session. The stuff that’s wrong with him is kind of what’s wrong with all of us.
A lot of the territory Brennan treads isn’t anywhere you haven’t gone before. There are jokes about the current U.S. President, racism, sexism, religion, terrorism, culture, social mores, porn, and the differences between men and women.
You’ve seen comics riff on this stuff. You will always see comics riff on this stuff.
So again, confidence. Big dick energy. The chutzpah to go where everyone’s gone before and still get the laugh. To make it sound smart, good and new.
Neal Brennan isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but Here We Go is a very enjoyable show, and perhaps a welcome reminder that you don’t always have to drink tea.
I don’t know if New Faces 2016 alum Janelle James (who has her own Off-JFL show, with Tim Dillon) is going to open for every one of Brennan’s performances, but if she’s on the show you’re at, count yourself lucky. Her set is blisteringly funny and felt far too short, but maybe that was just opening night kinks. Also, unlike the headliner, James’s jokes aren’t about serious self examination. “This is Neal’s show,” she told us. “He’ll be sad.” ■
Neal Brennan’s Here We Go continues through July 27.