In 1995, Eddie was the only guy invited to my wedding shower. (I can’t remember if he made it.) He was invited because I considered him an honorary chick.
Back in the day, he and I loved to schmooze in East Village cafés about the craft of comedy writing.
He told me two things:
- Deliver it without apology.
- Be yourself.
Good advice. It’s come in handy still, whether I’m making a presentation, teaching, or writing.
On the first point, Eddie said, I shouldn’t deliver a joke and then go, “No, no, I’m just kidding.” Don’t undercut yourself. Men don’t do that. And if you’re insecure, the audience will know it. Audiences want their comics confident.
On the second point, in my material, I had a couple of rehacked jokes. He told me to jettison those. Use only your own material, don’t update, rework, of rewrite other people’s stuff. He was deadly serious. Of course, he was right. Again, for me, it was a confidence thing — I thought the old classic jokes were better than my new ones. Not so.
I think today’s article about Eddie Brill in the New York Times does not do justice to a comic who definitely mentored me in my sort-of-successful-but-not-that-successful comedy career. I still write comedy. And when I do perform, in any capacity, I try to deliver it without apology and be myself.