Neal Brennan’s brilliant stand-up special 3 Mics sees the comedian exploring different facets of his personality, from cheap gags to stunningly personal and confessional stories of his struggles with mental health. Described by Brennan as “one for regular stand-up, one for one-liners, and then one for emotional confession shit?” 3 Mics is Brennan’s greatest work yet, and if you’ve seen it, aside from walking away with a few laughs, you probably left a little concerned for Neal, who put his emotional turmoil on full display. Great news, he’s doing much better.
On this week’s People’s Party, longtime friend Talib Kweli pointed to a particular story from the special that resonated with him and asked Neal about how his feelings had evolved since sharing the moment on stage.
“You talked about your parents and your father in particular,” Kweli says, “and then that part when you talk about your father I was brought to tears… I don’t relate to that experience at all. I’m incredibly blessed with my parents…. you’re talking about your father struggling with how to love his children, and treating you differently than your siblings and the gut-punch part is talking about the will, and your father going out of his way to make you feel like you’re not in this will… That had to be painful, and comedians often talk about comedy coming from a place of pain, but you said at the end of the dialogue, ‘I didn’t get put into the will but I got the truth.’ Do you feel liberated by that pain?”
To which Neal responds, “It sounds trite but, that was more valuable… I think about it so little now, and I used to be really consumed with anger toward it… maybe I exorcised it so to speak… In that regard, it was very helpful in that I don’t think about it.” Neal goes on to mention how he continues to receive support and appreciation for 3 Mics from people who relate with his struggles with family and depression, and Talib shares similar stories about how fans still respond positively to his early hit “Get By.”
Neal and Talib’s conversation about mental health and 3 Mics begins at the one hour mark, but the full conversation covers Neal’s relationship with Dave Chappelle, “black forgiveness,” and the state of comedy in the modern era and is worth the full watch above.