Revered stand-up comedian David Brenner passed away on Saturday night in his New York home. According to his publicist, the cause of death was cancer.
Brenner was known for his appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. He was one of the show’s most frequent guest throughout its 30-year run, and guest-hosted for Carson dozens of times. In 1986 he was given his own late-night talk show, Nightlife, but it was unable to bring in competitive ratings and was cancelled a year later.
Just as much as he was known by the public for his relationship with Carson, Brenner was known amongst comedians as a great influencer and mentor. He was a pioneer of observational comedy, paving the way for the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno and plenty of others. In a statement, Richard Lewis called Brenner the “godfather of hip, observational comedy.”
Brenner is survived by his wife, three sons and grandson. He was 78.