David Brennan was born and raised in the Hammer, a place he describes as the perfect incubator for his comic soul.
He spent his teen years at Westdale Secondary School known for its successful drama department and historically for producing well known comics Eugene Levy and Martin Short. At 17, he was also a precocious performer at Yuk Yuk’s open mic nights, and it was here that his talent was really stoked by Donnie Coy, who gave him his first stage time.
A lot has happened in between. The kind of stuff that takes a performer from an instinctive comic to a fully seasoned performer. A lot of comedians can describe the hit of their first laugh like it was yesterday. David is true to form.
Also true to form is that all great comedians have an equal part pathos filled with as much darkness as the light their comedy brings to the world. It’s the final spice that you can’t really put your finger on: the hidden ingredient that makes their humour truly joyful. The laughter of a survivor is a message for everyone.
I asked David what he wanted to be when he grew up. He said he feels like he’s there: a full time comedian and husband. The pieces are all fitting now.
There was the storytelling with the Hamilton Seven, his steady stand up work, and the acclaimed Imponderables troupe, five time Canadian Comedy Award winners who shot a Gala performance at Just For Laughs for CBC, and a television pilot in Los Angeles for MTV. They travelled the Fringe circuit for two years and survived the billet with the aluminum foil on the attic roof. They spent another two years doing a successful web series: Bill and Sons Towing, set in Hamilton and chronicling Bill’s failing towing business which he runs with his four sons (all from different Mothers). These were achievements.
With them came the hard times too though. He lost his brother Matthew tragically. He lost his job with the bankruptcy of CHCH, a marriage failed and there was the allure of the bottle. He’s out the other side now. This is an achievement too. Again he credits Hamilton as being a place that took care of him during those times. He focused on community theatre, a place he describes as “a home when you’re not at your best”.
Out of the chaos came a new path, one that he is sure of. He’s spent two years in Ottawa with his new wife working on his standup career. He’s doing the circuit again and loving it. In some ways he’s come full circle, back to the one man shows of his teen years but now with a keener eye and a sharper wit. He’s travelled the highways both figuratively and literally.
He’s invincible. Truly one of the funniest people I’ve ever met and he’s fully recharged for his return to Hamilton this July in two shows: Levity Comedy Club, July 12–13 and Laughing at the Judge at the Winking Judge on July 14th. Not one to waste a minute now that he knows where he’s going, you could also grab his Fringe show while he’s here: David Brennan Exhumed, July 18th to 28th at the Hamilton Fringe.
Meeting David Brennan is like seeing a sunflower on a country road. Sometimes one randomly towers above the crop: an anomaly of resilience. From down the highway, it’s like a smiling face that sees you first: a friend you never knew was waiting for you standing on their toes. You know he’s found his place in the sun, and he’s just waiting for you to come and see him so he can share his success. V