Splitsider.com is reporting that the Late Show with David Letterman will no longer employ Eddie Brill as their comedy booker. According to splitsider, he was let go “following a New York Times article in which he said a pretty dumb thing about female comics being less “authentic” than men. Apparently he will be permitted to continue in his position of warm up comic for the Late Show audience, but the booking will be taken over by “a small group of 25-year-olds.”
Writer Hallie Cantor expressed that while, “[s]ure, it’s a bummer to see someone lose their job over one or two sentences, but it’s also kind of awesome that the incredibly outdated and close-minded sentiment displayed in those sentences won’t fly in the comedy community today. Especially on the part of someone responsible for choosing which comics to showcase to a huge audience.”
For the record, his exact comment in the article was, “There are a lot less female comics who are authentic,” Mr. Brill said. “I see a lot of female comics who to please an audience will act like men.”
We were disappointed to hear CBS’s decision, and a bit shocked by Splitsider’s take on the incident. This was not the case where some misogynistic idiot shot off their mouth without thinking, just to be shocking, or insulting. This is someone with over 15 years experience, history, and the qualifications to give an opinion on the issue. Does that mean we agree with his opinion? No, not necessarily. But we also don’t like the idea of an environment where a person will be removed from their job that they’ve held for 15 years just because they gave a non-inflammatory opinion in their field of expertise.
And neither does stand up comic (and woman) Bonnie McFarlane, who also happens to be the director of a documentary called Women Aren’t Funny. In a conversation with The Laugh Button, McFarlane stated “People need to stop taking exception every time someone makes a slight towards female comics.” She continued, “We’re winning, already. Relax, take a victory lap.” She also added, “Eddie Brill was in our movie and I can honestly say that during the 40 minutes of raw footage he states over and over again that he thinks women are funny and perhaps even funnier than men.” She joked afterward, “Of course, for the movie, we took this footage and rearranged it to make him look like a misogynistic asshole.”
Bonnie and her husband comedian Rich Vos, who is the Executive Producer onWomen Aren’t Funny have a working relationship with Brill that’s stretched over a decade. “Eddie Brill booked me, a lady comic, on Letterman twice and although it was a great experience, it really did nothing for my career. Point being, if you don’t make it on Letterman, it really doesn’t matter.”
Ron Bennington, host of Unmasked, a series of interviews with artists in the comedy business on SiriusXM radio agreed with McFarlane. “Eddie Brill has dedicated his whole life to promote comedy and comedians,” said Bennington. “It’s unconscionable to judge him on two lines and not his entire career. To my read, it seems like Eddie was judging a current trend in comedy and not in women’s ability to be funny.”
Lisa Lampanelli has also spoken out in support of Brill. She told the New York Times that she would be disappointed if it turned out he lost his booking role “over an opinion that’s pretty benign.”
Obviously CBS has the right to hire and fire who they please. But an environment where speaking frankly could put you at risk of losing your job isn’t good for anyone. Sooner or later, we hope common sense will win out over knee jerk reactions.