Like Cosby, Brenner drew on his neighborhood roots and Philly background to construct a standup program that was human, heartwarming and anchored by everyday experiences and foibles. To be sure, Brenner was flattered by the comparisons.
At the height of his popularity David Brenner was nothing less than an entertainment sensation and he seemed to thrive on all the success. At one point he set a record for appearances on the Tonight Show and he also served as guest host of the show many times. He even had his own talk show for awhile.
He kept up a hectic pace and seemed to have energy to spare, traveling all over the world while at the same time become a major headliner in Vegas and Atlantic City.
We met him decades ago in Atlantic City when he appeared as the main Saturday night attraction at our Philadelphia Bar Association annual convention. We spent a long time trying to book Brenner but when he heard that he would be appearing before an audience of prominent Philadelphians he said "yes" without hesitation. He loved Philadelphia and went out of his way to boost his hometown every chance he got. But he knew that Philly audiences could be tough so he went all out the night we presented him and he did not miss a beat.
Backstage he was warm and engaging.
At the time he was pushing his anecdotal memoir, Soft Pretzels With Mustard and he signed a copy for us.
It's hard to believe David Brenner was 78 years old.
With his toothy grin, lanky demeanor and animated presence he always seemed like an overgrown kid.
He retained that youthful presence throughout his life. Yes, he was one lucky guy.
But he was also just a kid from Philly with big dreams who worked damned hard for every bit of success he achieved. He certainly earned all the fame and adulation.
We were sad today when we learned of his passing.
Our hearts go out to David Brenner's family, his colleagues, his friends and his many, many fans throughout the world.