Ever since the New York Times posted its story on Late Show with David Letterman stand-up comedian booker Eddie Brill on Jan. 11, Brill has been in the midst of a public relations nightmare. Mostly at issue, was the part of the piece that describes the qualities most important to Brill in booking a comic for the high-profile show– honesty and vulnerability.
Writer Jason Zinoman points out that only one female comedian appeared on the show last year, and then quotes Brill, a longtime comedian, himself, to address that fact: “There are a lot less female comics who are authentic. I see a lot of female comics who to please an audience will act like men.” The quote not only began a backlash in the comedy community but also re-ignited the on-again-off-again debate about women’s role in comedy.
And today, I learned from a source very close to the Late Show that Brill will soon be gone from his post booking comedians on the show. I’m told he’ll book two more comedians and then he will no longer perform the duty he’s been doing for the last 11 years. I have no reason to believe he’ll exit his job as the warm-up comic. It’s not clear whether it was Brill’s decision to leave his post — perhaps to avoid any future misunderstandings — or if the Letterman asked him to step down. Since Brill’s exit from his position is not effective immediately, it seems to me, it was Brill’s choice.
And while I’m registering vague opinions here, I have to say that the tone of the Times piece is one of a slight take-down. Sure it was a profile on a major behind-the-scenes player in the comedy world, but it seems difficult to deny there was an itsy-bitsy agenda there. You’ll have to read the entire piece to know what I’m talking about.
Believe me. I’m not defending what Brill said. If you visit Laughspin semi-regularly and if you’ve read my past stories about what a horseshit concept the “Are Women Funny?” debate is, you’ll know this. I’m just saying there’s two sides to this story– and while impassioned responses are fun, they don’t always help out the situation.