Neal Brennan: Blocks (2022) | Transcript

Follows Neal Brennan as he talks about the emotional and cultural issues that make him feel like something's wrong with him in a humorous way, from drugs and alcohol, liberalism, to his small chances of finding real love.
Neal Brennan: Blocks (2022)

[gentle music playing]

[audience applauding]

[audience cheering]

All right, let me explain. Friend of mine… “Former friend,” we’ll call her.

[audience laughter]

…is an artist, right? And the theme of our friendship is kind of feeling alone in the world. Right? So I wrote this show, which is about that feeling. And I sent her the script and I was like, “Hey, can you make a backdrop for me?” She’s like, “I got you.” And then two days ago, she sends me this. [audience laughter] Which feels less like alienation and more like a second grade speech therapist’s office.

[audience laughter]

I’m like, “How am I supposed to arrange these things?” She’s like, “Oh, you’ll figure it out.” [audience laughter] So, I’m going to be talking to you guys… all night, but, I’m going to be preoccupied with trying to satisfy her. None of this should surprise me. Is your life going smoothly? [audience laughter] Are you just floating from event to event, feeling good about yourself? ‘Cause I’m not. Most interactions I have feel like when you go to throw something away and it’s in one of those garbage cans that’s got a garbage hole, a recycling hole, and a compost hole. You do your best, but after you’re like, “I don’t think I did that right.”

[audience laughter]

That’s how I feel most of the time. Going through life feeling like I fucked up, and I’m going to get in trouble. I worry that my final thought on Earth, on my deathbed, is going to be, “Is that nurse mad at me?” [imitates flatline beep]

[audience laughter]

These are technically the areas of my life that make me feel like something’s wrong with me. Some of them are more important than others. We can start small. We’ll start with dogs. Right? So, I never had pets growing up, right? But I watch videos of dogs and they’re so funny and loving, and soldiers come back from overseas, the dog’s freaking out, the soldier’s freaking out, the dog’s fucking his face. I’m like, you know what? I should get a dog. [audience laughter] So I get a pit bull named Keith. And um, everybody told me, “Keith’s going to be your best friend.” And I gotta say, maybe my ninth-best friend.

[audience laughter]

Like, we’re cool, but whatever that thing is that opens up between humans and animals just never opened up. And then I go, “Do I not understand human-dog relationships or am I the only person who understands human-dog relationships?” ‘Cause everybody asks the same question, “Is he a rescue?” Yeah, they’re all rescues.

[audience laughter]

None of these dogs are thriving on their own.

[audience laughter]

Never heard a story like, “Where’d you get your Labradoodle?” “Went into Bank of America. She was the manager.”

[audience laughter]

“Now she’s our full-time Labradoodle.” I shouldn’t even say I rescued it. People love patting themselves on the back. “We rescued it, saved it, adopted it.” No, you didn’t. Here’s what happened to your dog, my dog, every dog. The dog was born into a litter, kidnapped, given to you.

[audience laughter]

“No, Neal. You don’t understand. I’m a dog mom.” Really? You know who else was a dog mom? That dog’s mom.

[audience laughter]

[applause]

We think because we talk to dogs like they’re babies, they’re babies. They’re not. They’re our captives. Right? But we think because we go, “Are you a pretty girl?” Pitch your voice down. See what a monster you are. “Are you a pretty girl?”

[audience laughter]

“We can go outside. I have to put a chain around your neck.” [audience laughter] “Do a trick for me. I’ll give you a tiny morsel of food.”

[audience laughter]

“You’re my best friend.”

[audience laughter]

We try to make movies about it romanticizing the relationship, like Marley & Me. You know what a dog sees in Marley & Me? He sees Taken, but Liam Neeson never shows up.

[audience laughter]

[sighs] And, by the way, I think it’s my fault. Something’s wrong with me. Uh… So I’d read books about loving dogs… Just… Like, okay, so is this thing… Is this for my LGBT joke? Or is she trying to tell me I’m on the spectrum? [audience laughter] Even groups you’d think I’d feel like I’m a part of, I don’t feel like I’m a part of. Like… liberals. Clearly liberal. Look at me. Bone-thin.

[audience laughter]

I look like Rachel Maddow with a beard. [audience laughter] But I don’t feel like part of the group, ’cause liberals are the least-welcoming people on the planet. Republicans are having a blast. Grabbing pussy, shooting guns like Westworld. [audience laughter] Republicans get to be greedy. Republicans care about themselves, their families, rich people, that’s it. Liberals got to care about everybody. Not fetuses. But everybody else. Am I right, liberals? [exclaiming] Fuck a fetus. Who’s with me, liberals?

[audience exclaiming]

I will punt a fetus down Wilshire if I see one. [audience laughter] The problem being liberal is there’s no amount of liberal that’s liberal enough. If there’s a bunch of Republicans and someone goes, “I’m a Republican.” They go, “Come on in.” If there’s a bunch of liberals and a liberal goes, “Hey, I’m liberal,” they’re like, “We’ll see.” [audience laughter] You can believe the right shit as a liberal, but if you express it incorrectly, you’re fucked. It’s terrifying. Ever try to talk about transgender issues in public? Even right now you’re like, “We don’t gotta do this.” [audience laughter] “Don’t go out like your boy. Just move on.”

[audience laughter]

[audience cheering]

But that’s exactly my point. It’s terrifying. I’m sure we all believe the right shit, but you ever… Trying to talk about transgender issues in public is like playing conversational Jenga. You’re like… “Pronouns…” “He… They…” Then Republicans are like, “Trannies? We’ll call ’em trannies?” [thud] [audience laughter] “What happened here? You guys playing Jenga?” [audience laughter] “I fucking love Jenga. Rack ’em up.” There’s a lot of little conundrums as a liberal, right? Like, I live in Venice, California, in LA. [man whoops] Yeah. And there’s a lot of homeless people in Venice. But I’m from New York, so it’s hard to take LA homeless people seriously. [audience laughter] It’s like once you work with the best, you know? [audience laughter] So… So one day I get home, and I got an… email. Paper email. A letter, we’ll call it. [audience laughter] The letter says, “We’re opening a homeless shelter.” As a liberal, that’s great. I keep reading. It says, “Across the street from your house.” I was like, “Oh shit.” [audience laughter] It was like being on a game show like How Liberal Are You? Like, “Uh…”

[audience laughter]

“I wrote a Black TV show.” [audience laughter] Yeah. My neighbors want to protest and shit. I’m not going to protest. I’m going to move. But I’m not going to… [audience laughter] No, I didn’t move. They opened the shelter. It’s not bad. It’s fine. How Liberal Are You? would be a funny game show, wouldn’t it? “You’re at an airport and a Muslim-looking man asks you to watch his luggage while he prays.” How Liberal Are You? [audience laughter] “Pass!” [audience laughter] You know who’s a liberal conundrum, as a person? Kanye. Yeah, ’cause when Kanye first started, he said, “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people.” Conservatives were like, “He needs to shut the fuck up.” Liberals were like, “Let him speak.” Then he started saying how much he liked Trump and liberals were like, “He does need to shut the fuck up.”

[audience laughter]

People at this point are just exhausted by Kanye. People are like, “That guy’s fucking crazy.” Yeah. No kidding. He’s a rapper. Since when do you rely on rappers for their emotional stability? [audience laughter] What’s your argument? “Back in my day, there was a guy named Flavor Flav.” [audience laughter] “And he’d walk around and say, ‘You know what time it is!'” “And we did know. He had a fucking giant clock on his chest.” [audience laughter] “There was another fella named DMX who’d smoke crack and bark at people.” [audience laughter] “He’d go…” [barks] “And we knew where he stood.”

[audience laughter] “His bark was as good as his word.”

[audience laughter]

“There was another named Eminem who’d make albums about murdering his wife.” “These are normal people we are talking about.” This. Maybe she’ll like this. Yeah, guns. I lose liberals on guns. I would like to, before I talk about this, say that I am afraid of guns, but it turns out the cops are too. [chuckles]

[audience cheering and applauding]

What’s the lesson we’re supposed to learn from Uvalde? Right? From Uvalde, Texas. Are we supposed to just… It’s always got to be a good guy with a gun? That’s the only way to stop it? Right? Everyone… The whole country’s going to be good guys with guns. Everywhere you go, “Freeze!” “You freeze!” “I’m already frozen!” Just fucking… [audience laughter] Also, if it’s up to us to stop guns, you know, speeding kills thousands of people every year. Are we supposed to stop that too? We’re supposed to run them off the road? If we see a speeder coming up, “You know what they say, the only thing that stops bad guy in a car is a good guy in a car.” Neew!

[audience laughter]

Yeah, my problem with guns is I don’t buy either side’s arguments completely. So the conservative argument is that guns are in the Constitution because the Founding Fathers thought if the citizens have guns the government will do what they say or else the people will rise up and fight the government. Which is a legitimately great idea in the 1700s, but… problem is, there’s still people now hoarding weapons thinking that, at some point, they may need to take on the American military, and they think they have a shot, right? [audience laughter] And look, maybe they’re right, which is why I’m proposing we test their theory, and once a year have a head-to-head showdown. [audience laughing, cheering] Say 100 members of the NRA versus, I don’t know, two members of the military. [audience laughter] Broadcast it on Fox, Christmas Day.

[audience laughter]

“Merry Christmas and welcome to the 2022 NRA-Military Showdown.” “Let’s go down to the field of battle, meet one of our NRA combatants.” “What’s your name? What kind of weapon?” “My name’s Andy Baker, and I got an AR-15, wearing Kevlar head-to-toe.” “How confident are you on a scale of 1 to 10?” “Fuckin’ a million.” [audience laughter] “We’re going to check in with the military.” They cut to one guy by himself, in a bunker, and he’s like, “My name is Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Walker.” “What kind of weapon are you working with?” “I don’t know if this is fair, but I’m working with a drone.”

[audience laughter]

“It’s equipped with eight Hellfire missiles and a high-power camera.” “As you can see on this monitor, the NRA fellas are in one big cluster.” [audience laughter] “So, I’m going to…” “We started? All right.” [audience laughter] “Yeah, so I’m going to hit this button right here.” [audience laughter] “Yeah, now they’re all dead.” [audience laughter] “That’ll do it for this year’s NRA-Military Showdown.” [audience cheering and clapping] “Brought to you by Whole Foods.” [audience laughter] You know the NRA guys would be like, “We can take ’em next year. Just got to split up.”

[audience laughter]

That’s the conservative argument, and the liberal argument is that, uh, the gun stats in America are just horrifying, right? And they are on their face, right? 40,000 gun deaths a year. Which is awful. But, you know what they never tell you? You know how many of those are suicides? Two-thirds are suicides. No one ever knows that. So whenever there’s a mass shooting on television, which are legitimately tragic, liberals always run on TV and say, “We don’t need mental health care. We need common-sense gun control.” No. How about both? Right? How about one question at the point of sale? Find out who’s depressed, who isn’t, and two-thirds of gun deaths right there. Guy comes in and they go, “Before we sell you this weapon, can we just look at your browser history real quick?” [audience laughter] He goes, “Sir, you’ve been listening to Lana Del Rey.”

[audience laughter]

“And staring at pictures of your ex. We’re not going to give you a gun today, but we are going to give you a bag of mushrooms and a copy of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.” [audience laughter] [audience clapping and cheering] “You’re gonna be back on your feet and talking with your butt cheeks in no time.” [audience laughter] So now we’re down to about 13,000 gun deaths a year, which is atrocious. But, by the way, you know how many people the flu kills in the average year? 50,000. If you’re worried you’ll be murdered by a gun, think about how scared you are of dying from the flu… You’re not. …divide it by three, and I’ll meet you there. By the way, do you see how I think myself into isolated, asshole-y positions? About everything for as long as I can remember. Even I hear myself sometimes and I’m like, “Just shut the fuck up.” I got to be the only person who was ever asked, “Would you rather be right or happy?” And I was like… “Ugh…” [audience laughter] Something’s wrong with me. And, by the way, I work against all my instincts with this. You know, I give to every liberal group you can think of. I give to so many… I give to an anti-capitalist group. How fucking dumb is that? And they have the balls to hit me up for donations. “Can we get another 100 bucks for our anti-capitalism group?” I’m like, “But you know how I’m getting this money, don’t you?” [audience laughter] Oh yeah. Maybe you’re thinking like, “Neal, why don’t you smoke some weed?” “Chill the fuck out.” That’s not up there ’cause I love weed. That’s up there ’cause I don’t think recreational drugs work on me right. Like MDMA. Molly, ecstasy, depending how old you are.

[audience laughter]

Uh… I… I’ve done it seven or eight times. Never worked on me once. There’s people whose brains don’t respond to MDMA. Guess I have one of those brains. My friends do not have one of those brains. That was pretty awkward. They’re all rubbing each other’s nipples, and I’m just like… [fake laughter] [audience laughter] Yeah, and I don’t think weed works on me either. Unless, is weed supposed to make you violently paranoid for five minutes, then you got to go to sleep? Is that weed? [audience laughter] ‘Cause in that case, bull’s-eye. I feel bad too because we’re living in the golden age of weed. Weed is legal in so many places. It’s legal out here. Uh… They sponsor comedy shows, so I get bags and vapes and pipes. I have so much weed at my house that I cannot use, I’ve become like an old lady with a lemon tree in her backyard. I’m like, “Take some weed.” [audience laughter] So weed’s legal. Shrooms just got legalized in Denver, Oakland, all of Oregon. Yeah. Yeah.

[audience cheering]

So there’s going to be shroom stores. You ready? You’ll go to a shroom store and go, “You open?” “I don’t know, are you open?” [audience laughter] I’m not mad at these drugs. MDMA, psilocybin, weed all passed the FDA hurdles for safety. Uh, but you know what wouldn’t pass the FDA hurdles for safety? Alcohol. For safety? Like, if they tested out whiskey in a lab. 100 men, 100 women, scientists dispensing it, marking down the results, they go to their boss. “Sir, we did the whiskey test.” “Uh, first one or two drinks, people seemed warm and happy.” “Then around the third drink, a lot of the men became belligerent.” “The women were upset, but they said they didn’t want to talk about it.” [audience laughter] “And then a lot of people vomited and passed out, and everyone who drove home crashed their car.” [audience laughter] “That sounds awful.” “I know, here’s the crazy part.” “They all want to come back again on Saturday.” [audience laughter] “They’re wondering if we can hire a DJ.” “And two Israeli guys want to promote it. Does that…?”

[audience laughter]

So clearly I’m not a big drinker. The fucked-up thing about alcohol is it gets so much good PR. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always heard, “When you drink, your real self comes out.” Which is true to a point. Maybe one or two drinks. But I’ve never looked at one of my sloshed friends and been, “There’s the real Tony.” And they’re, “Ugh!” [grunting] “Fuck you guys!” “That is his God-given essence, right there.” [exclaims] The real Tony has to piss on the street. [audience laughter] Yeah, not a big drinker. Not a big smoker. People don’t like it. It is good for me. Not drinking and smoking. I know it’s good for me because when I tell people at parties, they say, “Good for you,” right before they walk away.

[audience laughter]

But alcohol is hard. It’s a tough issue for me ’cause I grew up with an alcoholic dad, right? Uh… and, you know, people love alcohol, and women are people. So… [audience laughter] Admit it. Um… And so dating is tough because I don’t want to be a drink cop, but at the same time, it can be a little triggering. Sometimes it’s fine. Other times it’s like, “Mmm, trauma.” Um…

[audience laughing and clapping]

Yeah, but I don’t know what I can ask for within this, right? Like, I just don’t know what’s… I go, “Who am I to tell her not to drink?” “As someone who’s trying to protect themselves?” “From what?” “I don’t know, a negative emotional experience? The smell of alcohol?” “Are you not fucking over that? How are you not fucking over that?” So I’ve just got this negative tape running in my head about that and pretty much most things in my life. I have a very… I got a bad inner monologue. I wrote it down one time, and as soon as I saw it, I was like, I got to erase this. Because if any of my friends know that someone’s talking to me like this, they’re going to be pissed. But meanwhile, it was an inside job, you know? You ever look back on your life and think the way you are is inevitable? If you don’t know much about me, I’m the youngest of ten kids, which is… too many. Right? Both my parents were born during the Great Depression, and they were nice enough to bring it with them. [audience laughter] Yeah, so both my parents brought that energy to their union, and it was just a lot of chaos and alcohol and law and order. Like, a lot of violence. My earliest… One of my earliest memories of life is watching my teenage brother fistfight my dad on the front lawn. It’s like, “Okay, so this is life.” Um… Yeah, just so many rules. Just constant rules. There were so many rules that eventually my mother wrote the important ones down and stuck them on the wall of the kitchen, like you’d see at a steel factory. My friend actually put them on here. I’ll tell you about some of them. Bunch of TV rules, which I guess makes sense. A lot of laundry rules. My mother was laundry-room crazy. Um, if you left your clothes in the laundry room for too long, my mother would confiscate your clothes. Disappeared, Khmer Rouge-style. [audience chuckling] Never to be seen again. Although one year for Christmas, my sister Anne did get a keychain, a candle, and a box of her old clothes back, so… Merry Christmas, Anne. Why are you crying?

[audience laughter]

A lot of sandwich rules. You guys probably all had sandwich rules, right? [audience laughter] We had to make all of… There were too many of us. We couldn’t all make sandwiches every morning before school, so we’d have to make them in bulk on the weekend and then stick them in the freezer. And then on the way to school, we grabbed one of our sandwiches. You’re thinking that must not have made for very fresh sandwiches, but you’re forgetting a more important piece of information. Sandwiches don’t always thaw between 8:00 a.m. and lunchtime. [audience laughter] In those cases, we’d eat around the edges like rats on a pirate ship. [audience laughter] So, pretty much the Gilmore Girls is what I’m saying. Yeah, so I grew up Catholic. Anybody else? [cheering] Yeah, I did all the Catholic milestones. Baptism, First Holy Communion, Confirmation, atheism. Right?

[audience laughter]

[applause]

I shouldn’t even say I’m an atheist. Let’s say I’m agnostic about my atheism, right? Atheists are such smug hypocrites, by the way. Atheists will be like, “You pray to a god? That’s so silly.” “Can I show you my vision board real quick?” [audience laughter] I know a lot of white atheists. I don’t know many Black atheists. Not none, just not many. I got a theory about why there’s not many Black atheists. Here goes. Atheism is really like the height of white privilege. It really is. Religion says, “Can we interest you in an afterlife?” And white people are like, “No, thank you.” [chuckles] [audience laughter] “How much better could it be?” [audience laughter] “I’ll just take my supplements and see what happens.” White privilege has had a big couple years, huh? Yeah. The Cauckies, the Caucasians. [audience laughter] Cauckies were blindsided in 2020. They were just caught unawares, right? I was talking to a white lady. She says, “I had no idea things were so bad between Black people and the police.” I was like, “There’s no way you could’ve, unless you listen to any song by a Black person, ever.” [audience laughter] Like, what do you think “Fuck tha Police” was about, lady? “I didn’t think it was all police. I thought it was one precinct.” How about Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff”? “I know, but he didn’t shoot the deputy, so…”

[audience laughter]

I like the white privilege that’s hiding in plain sight. You know what’s a white privilege thing that’s hiding? A lot of American city names are white privilege. Like Chicago, Milwaukee, those are Native American words. West Coast is wild. San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego. Spanish names. Ever think about why they’re Spanish? Well… ‘Cause we jacked the motherfuckers from Mexico, didn’t even bother changing the names.

[audience laughter]

That is some ice-cold white privilege shit. That’d be like if your boy Pete had a girlfriend for years. “Pete’s girl.” Then you steal her, take her to a party, you’re like, “You know my girl Pete’s girl, don’t you?” [audience laughter] “You thirsty, baby? Get Pete’s girl a drink, would you?” “I got you a necklace with your initials on it. PG. Pete’s girl.” You know what’s white privilege? Joking about race. That’s white privilege. ‘Cause as a white person, it just bounces right off. Right? I know the funniest, meanest Black dudes in the world. They’ll be like, “White people can’t dance. No rhythm.” I’ll be like, “Who needs rhythm when you own the record label?”

[audience laughter]

[audience continues laughing]

Am I TikToking? Be honest. Is this TikTok? [audience laughter] A lot of Cauckies ask me, they go, “Neal…” “Neal, I’m a good Cauckie. What can I do?” “How can I combat white privilege?” Acknowledge it as it’s happening to you. This happened to me recently. I got pulled over doing 73 in a 35. So it was tight. [audience laughter] And white cop. I get my license and registration. He’s back running my plates, and I’m sitting there going, “I deserve whatever. A fine or a ticket.” “Whatever I’m going to get, I totally deserve.” He comes back. He’s like, “I’ll let you off with a warning.” I’m like, no, that’s fucked up. ‘Cause I know my Black or brown friends would at least be getting a ticket. I gotta say something. I was like, “Don’t be stupid. He’s a cop.” I was like, “No, now’s the time.” And I said, “Thanks, officer. It’s been a white privilege.”

[audience laughter]

He said, “The privilege is all white.” What the fuck? [audience laughter] Race is another one of these issues that’s a weird one for me, ’cause it’s had an oddly big effect on my life. Not anywhere near a person of color, but 50 times the average Cauckie. Uh… [audience chuckles] And I’m good at writing racial jokes, and I’m like, is it my place to tell them? Like, if they fall into the wrong hands… Like, that “who needs rhythm when you own the record label” joke, that would crush at a Klan rally. Crush.

[audience laughter]

You can hear it. “So I said, ‘Who needs rhythm when you own the record label?'” “Good night. My name’s Jedediah.” [audience laughter] So it’s like, should I not tell the jokes in public? Like, I know what my intentions are, but, like, who gives a shit what my intentions are if they’re… misinterpreted? Pretty accessible comedy show, huh, folks? [audience laughter] I’m in a tiny theater, moralizing about race. Meanwhile, Kevin Hart’s in an arena, “I tell you about the time I went to Egypt and a camel bit me in the dick?”

[audience laughter]

Something… Something’s wrong with me. Oh, you know what? I think this is a woman’s shoe. You might be thinking like, “Neal, if you got married and had kids some of your… alienation might dissipate.” Maybe. I don’t know. Never been married. Don’t have kids. 48 years old. People don’t like it. [audience laughter] It’s worse for women if you’re over a certain age. Not married, no kids, people pity you. But as a guy, people are suspicious. [audience laughter] I would get more trust from women if I’d been married and murdered my wife. [audience laughter] They’d be like, “He’s capable of love. He gets too passionate.”

[audience laughter]

“Also, he’s not going to murder two people.” [audience laughter] Cute. Yeah, it’s not… I’ve… I’ve been in long-term relationships. Been in love a few times. It just never got to marriage. It just never got there. These are big risks, these relationships, ’cause… ’cause… You’re basically just doing a daily trust fall with somebody, right? Every day you’d be like, “Okay. Your turn. Okay, here we go.” Aah! “Oh my God, this is so fun. Do me.” “Okay, here we go. I got you.” Aah! “Oh my God, I feel so connected to you. We’re so lucky.” “Do me again.” Aah! [thud] I’ve hurt people as the catcher, and I’ve been hurt as the faller. They both suck for different reasons. The thing with these relationships is, you just have to believe in each other and assure one another, like, “We both feel the same way.” “I feel the same about you as you do me. We’re connected, we’re connected.” And then a certain point, they look at you and go, “Oh, I’ve been pretending.” “We’re… we’re… we’re not connected.” And then you have to parse the relationship to try to figure out when they started pretending. And then eventually accept the fact that some of the most cherished memories of your life may have been a grift. Shit’s breathtaking. I judge myself a lot for this. This is where I’m like, “Something really is wrong with you.” You know, other comedians judge me for it. I was talking to a comedian friend. He’s like, “You’d be more popular if you were married with kids.” I said, “Why?” And he’s like, “The audience trusts you more if you’re married with kids ’cause you’re moral.” “You put other people ahead of you.” Uh, which I’ve legally never done. I have a dog. You’re like, “Which one? The one you don’t love?” Fuck you guys.

[audience laughter]

I’m not telling you shit anymore. But I get how, as an audience member, you trust comedians more if they’re married with kids. I do have one follow-up question. How is Bill Cosby’s marriage? Any word? [audience cheering] Is Louis C.K. still happily married? He’s fucking hilarious. He must be married. I had one more, and I need you guys to give it to me straight. John Mulaney? [audience exclaiming] Don’t fucking “oh” me. I went to the goddamn wedding. [audience laughter] Yeah. I don’t know what you spent. I had to fly across country, rent a car. They’re like, “Wanna upgrade for $30?” I’m like, “It’s Mulaney’s wedding. Let’s blow it out.” Cut to me in a PT Cruiser going, “Was this an upgrade?”

[audience laughter]

Well, at least Woody Allen’s marriage is still flourishing, huh? [audience clapping] Did you see that documentary? Allen v. Farrow? Uh, they lay out the case pretty conclusively that before he married his stepdaughter Soon-Yi, he molested his other stepdaughter. And I got to say, it’s probably my least favorite Woody Allen movie. [audience laughter] My failure in relationships is not for lack of trying, I swear to God. Like, I’ve done different approaches, love language, attachment style. Age, race, weight, job. I dated a model. Thank you.

[audience laughter]

Guys, dating a model is like owning a dune buggy. Dating a model’s like owning a dune buggy ’cause at the beach, it’s great. But everywhere else, you’re like, “I shouldn’t have brought you here.” [audience laughter] [audience cheering] By the way, this is all going to be heterosexual. Like, I don’t have any gay insights. Never been gay. I check once a year. [audience laughter] I do. If you’re honest, check once a year. I go on Pornhub, I click the “gay” button, and I go, “Anything?” “All right, back to women.”

[audience laughter]

While I haven’t been gay, I have experienced a ton of homophobia ’cause I have a bidet. [audience laughter] My straight guy friends will be like, “Can’t do it, bro.” “Can’t have water shooting up my ass.” Are you worried about… Look, if the only thing keeping you from being gay is water hitting your ass… [audience laughter] …you are gay. [audience laughter] Just be gay. Come on over, take a ride on the pony, start your new life. That’s how rudimentary guys’ understanding of our sexuality is. We’re like, “I just got to protect the flag.” “And everything’s the same.” Fellas, no, you don’t. I’m 48. The flag’s been violated or whatever. I’ve had a couple fingers in the butt. From women. Nothing happened. Nothing changed. I wasn’t like, “My identity!”

[audience laughter]

“Everything I thought I was!” [audience laughter] “Turn off Rogan, turn on Drag Race.” [audience laughter] You know what the first thing that always left in my relationships? Uh, appreciation for one another. Right? It happens in most relationships. We stop appreciating each other. Women start thinking, “Men are so thoughtless and stupid.” And men think, “Women are so fussy and high-maintenance.” And we’re both right. Women, you are fussy and high-maintenance. You know what else? They’re sophisticated and elegant, and can make emotional connections including, get this, direct eye contact. Women’s spirit is just elevating. They can transform a room with their presence and energy. I’m thankful there’s women here tonight. If there were no women here tonight, fellas, with just all dudes in a dark room staring at me… [audience laughter] …you know what the energy would be? Proud Boys, and you know it. [audience laughter] Just a bunch of guys in cut-off leather gloves and wearing their horrible sunglasses like this for some reason.

[audience laughter]

And women, you think men are thoughtless and stupid, and we are. But you know what else we are? Fucking hilarious. [audience laughing and applauding] We are. We’re very funny. Women are beautifully constructive, and men are hilariously destructive. Right? If you ever go to an all-women’s event, it’s just a bunch of women making eye contact and drinking white wine. [makes high-pitched sound] Eventually you’re like, “I gotta get the fuck out of here.” Right? But usually guys show up to kind of ground the energy, and we’re there, we’re trying to… We’re always trying to impress. We’re buying you shit, we’re break dancing… [audience laughter] …doing magic tricks, backflips. We’re telling stories with sound effects. “Then I punched him in the stomach.” Pssh! Then he took out a machine gun.” Trrrr! I’ve never heard a woman do a sound effect in my entire life. [audience applauds] Noises… Like birds’ chirps, meows, shit you could do. We’re always trying to make you laugh. We got funny mean nicknames for our friends. “This is Mike, aka Boner Mike.”

[audience laughter]

“Aka Illiterate Mike.” I never heard a woman be like, “This is Sarah, aka Barren Sarah.” [audience laughter] “She’s so dry down there, we call her Sahara.” [audience laughter] [audience laughing and whopping] [audience laughter] [sniffles] I just don’t have any like, real innate skill for being a boyfriend. Like, I’m thankful that there’s not an entrance exam to become a boyfriend ’cause I would fail that shit miserably. The woman would come with the results. “All right.” “We’re not going to pass you. I think you knew that.”

[audience laughter]

“Couple areas in which you didn’t do well, one of them was listening.” “Um, question was, ‘If you’re watching basketball on TV and your girlfriend needed to speak to you, how would you handle it?’ We were looking for, ‘Turn the TV off, and ask what was going on, ‘ but you wrote down, ‘I’d turn the TV up.’ [audience laughter] ‘And say, “I can’t talk right now, babe. It’s the first quarter, which is one of the most important quarters.”‘

[audience laughter]

“You also did poorly in conflict resolution.” “The question was, ‘If she had an issue with something you did, how would you deal with it?’ And you wrote down, ‘I’d think of a time she did something similar, and say, “See, bitch? Now we’re even.”‘ [audience laughter] Back to the apps for you, my friend. Yeah, something’s wrong with me, like… The other thing I’m not dying to get into with relationships is the power dynamic. ‘Cause I feel like men had all the power for 400,000 years, give or take. And about six years ago, women were like, “May we?” [audience laughter] I shouldn’t say men have no power. I should be more specific. Liberal white men have no power in relationships. At this period in history, as a liberal white man, you now have to go to protests against myself. Understand?

[audience laughter]

I… [applause] When the George Floyd protests broke out, I was like, “I’ll get my sign from the Women’s March. Here.” “I am the problem!” [audience laughter] I went to the Women’s March. It was inspiring on the one hand, and I also saw the funniest thing I’ve ever seen, right? So, inspiring, 400,000 women, their husbands, boyfriends, sons, dads, all together, marching for a cause. That was incredible. And then I also saw the funniest shit ever, uh… We all had signs that we made, right? And there was another guy there, and he had a sign that said, “This is what a feminist looks like,” with an arrow pointing at him. He and I are walking along, we make eye contact, the guy looks up at his sign and goes… [audience laughter] So we’ll see what happens. [audience chuckling]

[man] Oh, my God.

[chuckling] Yeah, I’ve dated a lot of women that were correctors. I had two different girlfriends in my life say in front of me, “I trained him.” [audience muttering] “I taught him.” Yeah. Ever hear a guy say that? No, ’cause you don’t know any pimps. [audience laughter] [chuckling] Yeah. And you do teach us shit, women, but it’s never shit we want to know. Shit you want us to know. Never had a girlfriend be like, “Let me show you how to choke a wolf.” [audience laughter] It’s always girly shit that you want us to know, and then we go, [in squeaky voice] “Oh yeah.” [audience laughter] That’s the sound of a guy learning shit he does not care about in the slightest. “Oh yeah.” [audience laughter] “Duvet cover, yeah.” [audience laughter] “Yeah, a blanket should have its own pouch.” [audience laughter] “Thank you, babe.” Happens to all guys, all over the world. Age, race, class. Doesn’t matter. We all know what happened with Meghan Markle and Harry Potter. Right? Is that his name?

[audience laughter]

We know what happened. She came home and was like, “I know we’re in England, you’re a prince, but your family sucks, so let’s go to America and you’re a fucking nobody.” And he was like… “Oh yeah.” [audience laughter] “Fuck a thousand years of tradition. Thanks, babe.” So much in relationships is luck. That’s the thing nobody talks about. It’s luck. So this is the thing I looked up. So there’s a one-in-eight chance that you will marry somebody you’re dating. There’s a 50-50 chance the marriage will work. So, in essence, there is a 6% chance that you’ll be in an everlasting loving relationship with someone you’re dating, even if they’re great and you’re great. 6%. That’s luck. And I know I need to pause the show right now and let all the guys that are here on dates look at your lady and let her know that you guys are the exception.

[audience laughter]

[man] Whoo!

You’re going all the way. I get it. But 6%. It’s luck, right? Even if I’m wrong it’s 9, but it’s 6. It’s luck. We’re all… We all judge each other for our failures at relationships. We judge ourselves. We should have empathy. We’re all basically just fans at an NBA game taking a half-court shot. When those fans miss the shot, everyone goes, “Aww!” They don’t go, “Fuck you!” [audience laughter] “Think about why you missed that shot.” “Start with your relationship with your mother and go forward from there.” [audience laughter] And then, babies. I’m not anti-baby. [audience chuckles] I’m anti-fetus. Y’all know I’m anti-fetus. [audience laughter] I fucking hate fetuses. I fucking hate them. I wish a fetus would step to me. [audience laughter] Yeah, so, I gotta… I’ve just never looked down and been like, “I should reproduce this.” “Run it back. Let’s go.” You know what TV show made me wary of having kids? You guys ever see that show, the nightly news?

[audience laughter]

Alright, climate change is a nightmare. We’re already double what Earth’s population should be. I can’t remember this much anger or division in my life. Having a kid right now would be like being at a house party, it’s packed with people, you can’t move, roof’s on fire, basement’s flooding, cops are coming, you look at your friend and you’re like, “We should invite Brian.”

[audience laughter]

The problem is I gotta tell women on first dates I won’t have babies. I guess I don’t have to. It just seems nicer, right? Because women have weird timing with that shit. I was on a date with a girl and she’s like, “I am 40.” “I need to start thinking about who I’m going to have kids with.” I was like, “Start thinking?” [audience laughter] “Miss, we may be down to minutes.” [audience laughter] Yeah, I got to tell women on first dates that I don’t want to have kids. People don’t like it. Telling a woman on a first date is like going to a job interview and being like, “Just so you know, I don’t fuck with computers.”

[audience laughter]

“How do you want to do this?” Maybe it’s luck. Maybe it’s timing. Or, you know, could be both. Or maybe it’s me. Maybe something’s wrong with me. Maybe I’m too cranky, or wounded, or misogynistic. Or something I don’t even know I am. You know what I realized? [woman] It’s not you. It’s not me? Well, good. Let’s end the show. Good night, everybody. [audience laughter] [chuckles] Women, do you see the kind of belief I’m looking for? Just a little? Yeah, like, I had the thought recently that I don’t think I can guarantee a woman’s emotional safety. And I’m not sure she could guarantee mine. I wish that were not the case, but that’s just how I feel. And people go, “Well, don’t you get lonely?” Yeah. But also, I’ve never been lonelier than in a relationship I didn’t want to be in. [audience applauds] And then with kids… You know, I say it’s climate change… It’s not. Secret, it’s not. [audience laughter] I say it’s all that stuff, but it’s about the emotional connection ’cause I don’t want the kid to come out, and I don’t feel it. We all know what happened with Keith.

[audience laughter]

And more importantly, my dad had ten kids, didn’t love any of us, right? So I don’t want to… I’m half him, so I could repeat that all over again. And people are like, “You’d be such a good dad.” I’d be a good Marine too. I don’t want to be a Marine. Like, people go, “Well, try.” It’s not… “Take the leap.” It’s not my risk, it’s their risk. They bear all the risk, right? ‘Cause if you’re born with a parent who doesn’t love you, you spend your whole life thinking something’s wrong with you. I… I also got to say, I really resent the pressure we’re all under to do it. I really resent it. Right? There’s dozens of new gender and sexual orientations. There’s still only one relationship orientation. Toward marriage. “What about polyamory?” There’s no tax cuts for polyamory. Stop it. But people are really impressed with like, “We got married and signed a license.” “A marriage license? How’d you do it?”

[audience laughter]

A legal yoke isn’t that impressive to me. You know what I mean? What’s more meaningful? A bird in a cage? Or a bird that flies away every day and comes back just ’cause they like being birds with you? Isn’t that better?

[audience applauds]

People say stuff like, “Well…” Just the dumb shit. “If you don’t marry her, you won’t be able to visit her in the hospital after hours.” [audience laughter] I will if I give security 40 bucks. [audience laughter] There you go, bird. Also, you ever ask married people how it is? [audience laughter] The answers may shock you. By the way, it’s not just men. Ask a woman how marriage is, women sound like a politician ducking a hot-button issue. “Lisa, how are things with you and Mike?” And she’s like, “Kids are great.” [audience laughter] And you ask guys how the marriage is, guys sound like they’re reading a hostage letter. “Mike, how are things with you and Lisa?” And he’s like, “Hello.” [audience laughter] “I am happy.”

[audience laughter]

“Do not worry about me.” [audience laughter] “Worry about yourself… [audience laughter] …and your heathen lifestyle.” [audience laughter] “She has taught me so much… [audience laughter] …and made me a better man.” And she’s in the corner like ISIS like, “Tell him about the duvet cover.”

[audience laughing and applauding]

“Oh yeah.” [audience laughter] This is fun. It’s just fun to be out, right? Do you know what one of the upsides of COVID might be, I hope, is uh, empathy for mental health stuff, right? ‘Cause everybody was isolated. And human beings don’t do well with isolation. We’ve still got cave brains. So we think if we’re isolated that the tribe is rejecting us, and then we start picking away at ourselves and finding faults that aren’t there and… Basically, our mental health declines. So I hope in the future that people have empathy when someone says, “I’m depressed or anxious,” they’ll go, “Yeah, I remember that.” Because for a lot of us, we’ve felt isolated our whole lives. And the other thing I’ll say, one of the things I didn’t mind about COVID was that we could all just chill a bit with work. We could put the sword down a little bit. If you achieved something during COVID, cool. If not, also cool. The only people who accomplished anything during COVID to me were Bo Burnham…

[audience laughter]

Amazon.com, and the 1998 Chicago Bulls. Somehow.

[applause]

They, like, won again, right? But it was nice to chill out, but as soon as the world opened up, I was back comparing myself to other comedians, and seeing who was doing whose podcast, and who did what venue, and how many tickets they sold. And am I too old to be on TikTok? Can a person do lip-sync videos and be on cholesterol medication? [audience laughter] Yeah, like I said, comedy is so public, and it can be sort of… you know, it’s exposing. And, like I said, there’s a lot of ways in which I feel like I don’t fit into the world, and I’m not doing it especially good, but comedy’s one of these things where I feel like I know what I’m doing, I’m part of something, but there’s always a reminder like, “You don’t.” Right before the start of COVID, Netflix had a party. By the way, this story’s so name-droppy, I apologize in advance. This story’s so name-droppy, DiCaprio was there, I don’t even mention it. [audience laughter] So, uh… Netflix has a party, and it’s at the head of Netflix’s house. A guy named Ted Sarandos. A great man. [audience laughter] [woman cheers] A great man.

[audience laughter]

So it’s at Ted Sarandos’ house, and I walk in, and it’s the biggest comedians in the world, right? I look over, it’s Burr, Aziz, Mulaney, Ali Wong, Sarah Silverman, Wanda Sykes, Trevor Noah, Borat.

[audience laughter]

And you’re like, “Pretty good. Pretty big, Neal. All right.” Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Kevin Hart. And then I look over here, Ellen DeGeneres, Eddie Murphy. I was like, “God damn. I’ve never seen all these people together, ever.” Right? And I remember thinking, “Buddy, I don’t know what you did to get invited to this party, but it must’ve been pretty good, and I’m proud of you.” And I’m just looking around at all these heroes of mine, right? Uh, all icons. And Ted Sarandos, who is a great man… [audience laughter] …gives a toast, and he goes, “It’s such a thrill for me to be in the same room with all of my comedy heroes.” And Chris Rock yells out, “And Neal Brennan!”

[audience laughter]

I just thought, “Man, I hope someday Chris gets humiliated in front of all of his peers.”

[audience laughing and applauding]

And a great joke, by the way. Like, the right joke to make. I wish I could’ve been somebody else so I could have enjoyed it more. I was like, “Oh fuck, I am Neal Brennan. Shit.”

[audience laughter]

You know in a movie when someone gets embarrassed and they cut to slo-mo shots of… “Ha, ha, ha.” My slo-mo shots were Ellen going… [distorted] “Ha, ha, ha.” And Borat was like, “My wife!” [audience laughter] But, yeah, it just made me, like, second-guess myself, as usual. ‘Cause all these people are such naturals. Dave started doing comedy at 14. He was good then. Eddie knew he was going to be on TV when he was five. Ellen called being on The Tonight Show before she did stand-up. Like, just all these stories, right? And meanwhile, I did it completely backwards. I was a writer, then I became a comedian in my thirties, and I had to… I’m not a natural. I had to grind and take vocal lessons and movement classes. I listened to multiple audiobooks about charisma. Multiple. [audience laughter] I act like this is all past tense. I’m doing it now. See this thing? “It’s not a watch.” You’re right. It’s not. It’s called a Pavlok. This thing gives me a small electric shock every three minutes on stage to remind me to smile more. It’s been happening the entire show.

[audience laughter]

[audience applauds]

Yeah, when I’m around people like that, I’m like, “Am I not supposed to be doing this?” By the way, what even is this? Why can’t I just do regular stand-up? Last time I was like, “I’m going to need three different microphones set up equidistant.” This one is… And this one… “Ugh…” “Ha, ha, ha, ha.”

[audience laughter]

And then this show I’m like, “Hey, everybody, I brought blocks!” [audience laughter] I’ve spent the last… 15 years of my life being a comedian. And every comedian I met was like, “You seem like more of a writer.” Which is comedians’ way of saying, “Give me your jokes.” Before that I was a writer, and every writer was like, “You seem like more of a comedian.” Which is writers’ way of saying, “You’re annoying.”

[audience laughter]

If just feels like comedians over here, writers over here. Neal, you can just stay in this middle area, with your little stand-up traumedy shows. [audience laughter] Did I mention I paid her for this? Individually… these things are all manageable, you know? But it’s… In totality, that’s the hard part. That’s where the depression comes. And I’ve tried so much stuff. Like, so much. Therapy, medication. Ketamine. I tried transcranial magnetic stimulation. [click] Ooh, okay… [loud clicking] That was good, but it kind of wore off. So then I went to China to get a stronger version of TMS which isn’t legal in the States. [loud clicking] It may not even be legal in China, for all I know. And then, I did 5-MeO-DMT. Like Bufo alvarius. It’s like the nuclear bomb of psychedelics. I think I went too far… with that one. Like, I think… I think I hurt myself a little bit. Yeah, but I guess it makes sense if you’re looking for a magic bullet, occasionally you’re going to get shot. But I just kept thinking, “Dude, how did you turn self-help into self-harm?” I’ve been saying all night that something’s wrong with me. And something is wrong with me.

[gentle music playing]

I won’t show myself any kindness. I won’t give myself any grace. Like, I just grind and attack myself relentlessly like it’s my job. I would love to stop. I like to believe that my ways of being, like my thoughts, my habits, my emotions, my beliefs… I’d like to believe that they’re not defects. I’d like to believe that alchemy of a personality… my spirit… it’s got to be enough. Please. Let that be enough.

[audience applauding and cheering]

[audience continues applauding]

[closing music playing]

SHARE THIS ARTICLE

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read More

Fortune Feimster: Good Fortune

Fortune Feimster: Good Fortune (2022) | Transcript

Fortune reflects on her own good fortune, including some big life events she’s experienced the last couple years like falling in love with her wife and the extravagant proposal she planned that didn’t go as expected, and much more.

Access Our Archive
of Stand-Up Transcripts