Amidst controversy, David Letterman’s comedian booker Eddie Brill to leave post

By | January 17, 2012 at 11:54 am | 46 comments | feature slider, News, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

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.

About the Author

Dylan P. Gadino

Dylan is the founder and editor in chief of Laughspin. He launched Punchline Magazine in 2005 (which became Laughspin in the summer of 2011) with childhood friend Bill Bergmann. Dylan lives in northern New Jersey with his wife and two sons. He hopes the Shire is real.

  • http://twitter.com/thirdbeat Sharilyn Johnson

    Sorry to hear this.  Dylan, you’re absolutely right that the piece had a “take down” vibe to it from the get-go. I was disappointed in it overall, because Zinoman struck me as a guy who wanted to use his new role for good. Seems Eddie was the canary in the NYT comedy coverage coal mine.

  • http://twitter.com/thirdbeat Sharilyn Johnson

    Sorry to hear this.  Dylan, you’re absolutely right that the piece had a “take down” vibe to it from the get-go. I was disappointed in it overall, because Zinoman struck me as a guy who wanted to use his new role for good. Seems Eddie was the canary in the NYT comedy coverage coal mine.

  • http://thelaughbutton.com TheLaughButton

    I too, got a similar vibe that it was a take down type of story. But I think I was most offended that according to the story, Anthony Jeselnik wasn’t right for the show.

    • http://twitter.com/staleface77 John Staley

      No gusta el nerdo Jeselnik, Mayor of Applause Break City my ass. 

  • http://twitter.com/TylerMeznarich Tyler Meznarich

    The Times definitely portrayed Brill as a guy that was out of touch with what was going on in comedy today. However, he apparently was keeping Letterman happy which is probably the only real requirement of his job. I think it would have been better to have a dialogue with Brill about his opinions on women in comedy rather than just firing him because now there is no reason for things to change. They’ll probably just hire somebody else who will dictate HIS comedy tastes, which are likely to be the exact same as Brill’s.

  • http://twitter.com/TylerMeznarich Tyler Meznarich

    The Times definitely portrayed Brill as a guy that was out of touch with what was going on in comedy today. However, he apparently was keeping Letterman happy which is probably the only real requirement of his job. I think it would have been better to have a dialogue with Brill about his opinions on women in comedy rather than just firing him because now there is no reason for things to change. They’ll probably just hire somebody else who will dictate HIS comedy tastes, which are likely to be the exact same as Brill’s.

  • http://twitter.com/TylerMeznarich Tyler Meznarich

    The Times definitely portrayed Brill as a guy that was out of touch with what was going on in comedy today. However, he apparently was keeping Letterman happy which is probably the only real requirement of his job. I think it would have been better to have a dialogue with Brill about his opinions on women in comedy rather than just firing him because now there is no reason for things to change. They’ll probably just hire somebody else who will dictate HIS comedy tastes, which are likely to be the exact same as Brill’s.

  • OneFunnyBastid

    It sounds like the NY Timebs article clearly had an agenda that was most likely influenced by the many bitter and unqualified comics that Edd hasn’t booked. I’ve known Eddie for years and he’s certainly gotten a raw deal here.

  • http://jeffkreisler.com/ kreisler

    Actually, I thought the author displayed restraint, simply letting all the quotes lay bare for people to interpret as they thought best. 
    Hoisted on his own petard. 
    The lesson remains: “the less you say, the better you look.”

  • http://jeffkreisler.com/ kreisler

    Actually, I thought the author displayed restraint, simply letting all the quotes lay bare for people to interpret as they thought best. 
    Hoisted on his own petard. 
    The lesson remains: “the less you say, the better you look.”

  • http://twitter.com/staleface77 John Staley

    Everything to Bill Burr seems slow paced (NYT article).

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  • Person

    “ while impassioned responses are fun, they don’t always help out the situation.” KEEP YOUR FUCKING MOUTH SHUT EVERYBODY!  WE NEED TO PROTECT THIS POOR HELPLESS MAN! Ugh. This isn’t the comedy community’s fault, or the NY Times’ fault. It’s Brill’s fault.

  • David Smith

    To fight misogyny and inequality in the comedy business, please call the Sioux Falls Orpheum Theater at 605-367-4616 and request that they cancel the Eddie Brill show scheduled for January 21st.
    You can also e-mail the executive management of the theater at terry@sfarena.com, and the press office atmicki@sfarena.com.

  • David Smith

    To fight misogyny and inequality in the comedy business, please call the Sioux Falls Orpheum Theater at 605-367-4616 and request that they cancel the Eddie Brill show scheduled for January 21st.
    You can also e-mail the executive management of the theater at terry@sfarena.com, and the press office atmicki@sfarena.com.

  • David Smith

    To fight misogyny and inequality in the comedy business, please call the Sioux Falls Orpheum Theater at 605-367-4616 and request that they cancel the Eddie Brill show scheduled for January 21st.
    You can also e-mail the executive management of the theater at terry@sfarena.com, and the press office atmicki@sfarena.com.

  • David Smith

    To fight misogyny and inequality in the comedy business, please call the Sioux Falls Orpheum Theater at 605-367-4616 and request that they cancel the Eddie Brill show scheduled for January 21st.
    You can also e-mail the executive management of the theater at terry@sfarena.com, and the press office atmicki@sfarena.com.

  • David Smith

    To fight misogyny and inequality in the comedy business, please call the Sioux Falls Orpheum Theater at 605-367-4616 and request that they cancel the Eddie Brill show scheduled for January 21st.
    You can also e-mail the executive management of the theater at terry@sfarena.com, and the press office atmicki@sfarena.com.

  • David Smith

    To fight misogyny and inequality in the comedy business, please call the Sioux Falls Orpheum Theater at 605-367-4616 and request that they cancel the Eddie Brill show scheduled for January 21st.
    You can also e-mail the executive management of the theater at terry@sfarena.com, and the press office atmicki@sfarena.com.

    • word smith

      that would be gay

    • word smith

      that would be gay

    • word smith

      that would be gay

    • word smith

      that would be gay

    • Steve

      Why not just don’t buy tickets instead of trying to censor someone.

    • Garbanzo

      Really David Smith? Really?

    • Garbanzo

      Really David Smith? Really?

    • Garbanzo

      Really David Smith? Really?

    • http://twitter.com/joshhomer Josh Homer

      You can’t be serious. 

    • http://twitter.com/joshhomer Josh Homer

      You can’t be serious. 

    • http://twitter.com/joshhomer Josh Homer

      You can’t be serious. 

    • http://twitter.com/joshhomer Josh Homer

      You can’t be serious. 

    • http://twitter.com/joshhomer Josh Homer

      You can’t be serious. 

    • http://twitter.com/joshhomer Josh Homer

      You can’t be serious. 

    • http://twitter.com/joshhomer Josh Homer

      You can’t be serious. 

    • http://twitter.com/joshhomer Josh Homer

      You can’t be serious. 

    • Jane C

      David, I did a search for a “David Smith, comedian” and a bunch of David
      Smiths come up. Please, tell me where I can find your hilarious work
      so I can judge for myself if Eddie was trying to keep your wicked bad
      funny self down, or if you just suck. Thank you.

  • David Smith

    To fight misogyny and inequality in the comedy business, please call the Sioux Falls Orpheum Theater at 605-367-4616 and request that they cancel the Eddie Brill show scheduled for January 21st.
    You can also e-mail the executive management of the theater at terry@sfarena.com, and the press office atmicki@sfarena.com.

  • Steve

    Art is subjective.  Brill did nothing wrong.  It did seem slightly in bad taste to teach classes but no one was ever promised a spot on the show.  As for female comics it seems to me like proportions are the problem.  For every 12 guys there’s 1 woman.

  • Steve

    Art is subjective.  Brill did nothing wrong.  It did seem slightly in bad taste to teach classes but no one was ever promised a spot on the show.  As for female comics it seems to me like proportions are the problem.  For every 12 guys there’s 1 woman.

  • http://twitter.com/joshhomer Josh Homer

    To paraphrase Louis CK from Louie, I don’t envision a world where Eddie Brill is that stupid, that he’s that dumb to go on record and say women are unfunny. I don’t think he’s a dumb person, this is evident from him working a comedy system and earning a living out of it. SO I think there is a lot more to this than is being let on. I don’t think he hates women comics or thinks they are unfunny. I think he books a show (or did) and he knew what demos that show appealed to, what Letterman likes, and booked accordingly. If a female comic was a fit for the show, he would book her. I don’t think he wouldn’t book anyone because they are female, or conversely just book someone on the strength that they have a vagina.We’re in the entertainment business; entertainment is the adjective there, business is the noun it describes. These shows and networks try to appeal to a demo (usually white males 18 to 34) and book accordingly. I think Eddie was thrown under a bus for comments taken out of context. I don’t think he’s dumb enough to say what the article quoted him as saying in the context in which they presented it. 

  • http://twitter.com/joshhomer Josh Homer

    To paraphrase Louis CK from Louie, I don’t envision a world where Eddie Brill is that stupid, that he’s that dumb to go on record and say women are unfunny. I don’t think he’s a dumb person, this is evident from him working a comedy system and earning a living out of it. SO I think there is a lot more to this than is being let on. I don’t think he hates women comics or thinks they are unfunny. I think he books a show (or did) and he knew what demos that show appealed to, what Letterman likes, and booked accordingly. If a female comic was a fit for the show, he would book her. I don’t think he wouldn’t book anyone because they are female, or conversely just book someone on the strength that they have a vagina.We’re in the entertainment business; entertainment is the adjective there, business is the noun it describes. These shows and networks try to appeal to a demo (usually white males 18 to 34) and book accordingly. I think Eddie was thrown under a bus for comments taken out of context. I don’t think he’s dumb enough to say what the article quoted him as saying in the context in which they presented it. 

  • http://twitter.com/joshhomer Josh Homer

    To paraphrase Louis CK from Louie, I don’t envision a world where Eddie Brill is that stupid, that he’s that dumb to go on record and say women are unfunny. I don’t think he’s a dumb person, this is evident from him working a comedy system and earning a living out of it. SO I think there is a lot more to this than is being let on. I don’t think he hates women comics or thinks they are unfunny. I think he books a show (or did) and he knew what demos that show appealed to, what Letterman likes, and booked accordingly. If a female comic was a fit for the show, he would book her. I don’t think he wouldn’t book anyone because they are female, or conversely just book someone on the strength that they have a vagina.We’re in the entertainment business; entertainment is the adjective there, business is the noun it describes. These shows and networks try to appeal to a demo (usually white males 18 to 34) and book accordingly. I think Eddie was thrown under a bus for comments taken out of context. I don’t think he’s dumb enough to say what the article quoted him as saying in the context in which they presented it. 

  • http://twitter.com/joshhomer Josh Homer

    To paraphrase Louis CK from Louie, I don’t envision a world where Eddie Brill is that stupid, that he’s that dumb to go on record and say women are unfunny. I don’t think he’s a dumb person, this is evident from him working a comedy system and earning a living out of it. SO I think there is a lot more to this than is being let on. I don’t think he hates women comics or thinks they are unfunny. I think he books a show (or did) and he knew what demos that show appealed to, what Letterman likes, and booked accordingly. If a female comic was a fit for the show, he would book her. I don’t think he wouldn’t book anyone because they are female, or conversely just book someone on the strength that they have a vagina.We’re in the entertainment business; entertainment is the adjective there, business is the noun it describes. These shows and networks try to appeal to a demo (usually white males 18 to 34) and book accordingly. I think Eddie was thrown under a bus for comments taken out of context. I don’t think he’s dumb enough to say what the article quoted him as saying in the context in which they presented it. 

  • jokedoctor

    I read the piece, but didn’t really see it as a ‘take-down’ The article was focused on Eddie, what he said, his role at Late Night…I don’t know what Eddie truly meant by what he said, but what he said just helps propogate that negativity of females in comedy.

    I encourage females to get into comedy. This business needs more–whatever their voice. Comedy is a veiled attack, simply put. If you’re a female and you attack something, does that make you look male?

    I think Eddie can sometimes be a little narrow minded when it comes to comedy. Letterman certainly is (as he’s been quoted as saying how much he hates comedians). So if Eddie worked as Dave’s T.C. for 11 years, it wouldn’t be so far-fetched that he developed a narrow vision of what a comedian is.

    That being said I also know Eddie is still learning and growing just like the rest of us and he can admit his own mistakes. I believe Eddie will have another T.C. job somewhere else in television in the near future.

    …the science behind the art…
    http://www.standupcomedyclinic.com

  • jokedoctor

    I read the piece, but didn’t really see it as a ‘take-down’ The article was focused on Eddie, what he said, his role at Late Night…I don’t know what Eddie truly meant by what he said, but what he said just helps propogate that negativity of females in comedy.

    I encourage females to get into comedy. This business needs more–whatever their voice. Comedy is a veiled attack, simply put. If you’re a female and you attack something, does that make you look male?

    I think Eddie can sometimes be a little narrow minded when it comes to comedy. Letterman certainly is (as he’s been quoted as saying how much he hates comedians). So if Eddie worked as Dave’s T.C. for 11 years, it wouldn’t be so far-fetched that he developed a narrow vision of what a comedian is.

    That being said I also know Eddie is still learning and growing just like the rest of us and he can admit his own mistakes. I believe Eddie will have another T.C. job somewhere else in television in the near future.

    …the science behind the art…
    http://www.standupcomedyclinic.com

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