Even on hold, you can hear Brenner's jokes

April 29, 1994|By Steve McKerrow | Steve McKerrow,Sun Staff Writer

David Brenner does not have many memories of performing in Baltimore. His recall goes back much further.

"I used to go there as a kid. We used to go there to get crab; from Philadelphia we'd drive to get some Baltimore crabs," he says over the telephone from the Claridge Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.

He and teen-age friends also often drove to Baltimore to gamble on weekends, says Mr. Brenner, who is performing four shows at The Comedy Cabaret in Fells Point this weekend.

"There were good poker games in Baltimore in those days. I was about 16, 17 years old," says the comic, whose material sometimes deals with growing up in the tough neighborhoods of south and west Philly.

Since last fall, Mr. Brenner has been the official spokesman for the Claridge, performing there often. In fact, when the hotel phone lines are busy, callers on hold hear him telling jokes.

"They have me doing every tape. If you call VIP services, if you call room service, you hear me. . . . The first time I got shocked. You know how you forget who you're calling? All of a sudden I heard my voice on the phone. It's so weird; I forgot I was calling the Claridge," he says.

Mr. Brenner, who began doing comedy after a successful career as a producer of TV documentaries, once was the most frequent fill-in host for Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show."

But the timing was not right for his late-night hopes, he says.

"It was all timing as to when Johnny would leave. Johnny left during the [Jay] Leno era, not the David Brenner era," he says, adding, "That's the way it goes; you can't spend time thinking about those things."

He says he has no stake in the talk-show turmoil of the last year. "I'm totally disinterested in that stuff. I feel it's farther away than Bosnia for me."

Mr. Brenner does acknowledge some irony in an appearance he made last fall on "Late Show With David Letterman." He was the first guest of the first show taped for CBS in the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, although the program was not the first one that aired when Mr. Letterman premiered on CBS last fall.

"What was ironic about it, as a young pup I was the last comedian to walk off that stage on a live 'Ed Sullivan Show' [in 1971]. . . . Then I walked back on for Letterman's first show," he recalls. "It was so weird. I never even knew it, I never put it together till I read it in the press."

Mr. Brenner, who has written four humor books, says he is preparing for a summer of performances in the country music mecca of Branson, Mo., "The David Brenner Super Summer Spectacular."

David Brenner

When: 8 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. tomorrow; 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: The Comedy Cabaret, 723 S. Broadway, Fells Point

Cost: $17.50; buffet dinner available one hour before early shows both days, for additional $8

$ Call: (410) 327-8800

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