USC Comedy Festival, Vol. 4 Presents: THE STANDUP SPECIAL - NEW DIRECTIONS

November 3, 2018, 1:30 P.M.

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building, USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007

USC Comedy at the School of Cinematic Arts and USC Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative
invite you and a guest to attend a special panel discussion

The Standup Special: New Directions


A panel curated & moderated by Jason Zinoman,
first-ever Comedy Critic of the NY Times, featuring:

Neal Brennan, 3 Mics, Chappelle's Show
Steve Brill, Sandy Wexler, Adam Sandler – 100% Fresh
Ian Karmel, The Comedy Lineup, Late Late Show with James Corden
Jessica Yu, Lady Dynamite, Maria Bamford: Old Baby

1:30 P.M. - 3:00 P.M. on Saturday, November 3rd, 2018

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108

900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007



Presented during the USC Comedy Festival, Vol. 4, taking place from November 2nd - 4th, 2018.

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The USC Comedy Festival, Vol. 4 is dedicated to the memory of Paul Junger Witt, visionary film and television producer, and guiding force behind USC Comedy.

About The Standup Special: New Directions

Standup specials have undergone a tremendous burst of creative experimentation in the Netflix Comedy era, with multi-hyphenates like Jerrod Carmichael, Hannah Gadsby, Bo Burnham, and Christopher Storer moving the tradition televised standup comedy special in exciting new directions. Join us for a panel discussion with Neal Brennan, Steve Brill, Ian Karmel, and Jessica Yu, curated and moderated by Jason Zinoman, the first-ever Comedy Critic of the New York Times.

About the Panelists

NEAL BRENNAN - 3 Mics, Chappelle's Show

Three-time Emmy nominated Writer, director, producer, and standup comedian Neal Brennan has become a force in the comedy world. An across-the-board talent, Neal has found success in almost every creative vein in the comedy community. He has collaborated with the top writers and talent in the business and worked on several popular shows in various capacities. If there is a comedy that audiences are responding to, Neal is often somewhere to be found.

Neal is currently a writer, Creative Consultant, and on-air correspondent on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. He served as Executive Producer on Chris Rock’s 2018 standup special Chris Rock: Tamborine and as Director on fellow Daily Show Correspondent Michelle Wolf’s 2017 HBO special Michelle Wolf: Nice Lady. He also co-wrote the 2017 feature film The Female Brain alongside comic Whitney Cummings.

Neal’s critically acclaimed stand-up special 3 Mics premiered on Netflix in 2017, with Paste Magazine offering “It will floor you in the best way possible.” In a break from traditional standup comedy, 3 Mics sees Brennan alternating between three separate microphones; one for traditional stand-up, one for one-liners, and one for short confessional monologues covering everything from managing his depression to his difficult relationship with his father. The show enjoyed a successful off-Broadway run in NYC with superstar musician John Legend serving as Producer.

His first hour standup special Women and Black Dudes, which he also directed, premiered in 2014 on Comedy Central and was named one of the 10 Best Standup Specials of 2014 by Paste Magazine. His half hour standup special premiered in 2012 on the network’s series The Half Hours. In 2013 Neal directed several sketches on Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer, as well as episodes of FOX’s The Mindy Project and New Girl. He also wrote with Seth Meyers on The ESPY Awards and his White House Correspondents Dinner speech in 2011.

Brennan has done stand-up on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, Conan, Last Call with Carson Daly, and Lopez Tonight.

In 2014, Neal was the host of The Approval Matrix on SundanceTV, a panel show inspired by the popular New York Magazine feature. In addition to panel discussions, the series featured Brennan conducting interviews with Jon Stewart, Amy Poehler and Chris Rock, with The New York Times calling the show “intellectually risky and appealingly frisky.”

Neal co-created Comedy Central’s legendary Chappelle’s Show, for which he received three Emmy nominations; one for directing, one for writing, and one for producing. Together, Brennan and Dave Chappelle wrote and produced virtually every sketch on the show themselves. In the second season, Brennan also served as director on many episodes, helming such classic sketches as “Charlie Murphy/Rick James,” “The Racial Draft,” “Charlie Murphy/Prince,” and the “John Mayer Sketch.” Also with Chappelle, Neal co-wrote the stoner cult classic film Half Baked. In 2009 Brennan went on to direct the feature film The Goods for producers Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Paramount. The film starred Jeremy Piven, Ed Helms, Ken Jeong, Ving Rhames, and Ferrell. In 2010, Neal appeared as an actor in the feature film Get Him To The Greek.

In addition to standup, writing, directing, and producing, Brennan has also directed popular commercials for Sprite, Netflix, Best Buy and Nike. He has a huge presence on social media with 375,000 followers on twitter, and was named “One of the Funniest People on Twitter” by Time Magazine and Rolling Stone.

After dropping out of the prestigious NYU Film School, Neal began his career at the age of 20 as a writer on the MTV dating game show, Singled Out, (you’re welcome) and the Nickelodeon sketch show, All That. Since then, he has performed standup and lent his hand at writing and directing several TV shows and films, developing what The New York Times calls his “hip-hop and Frontline aesthetic.” He regularly headlines the good standup venues in the good parts of America.

He does see Dave pretty often. Dave is fine.

Follow Neal Brennan on Twitter: @nealbrennan
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STEVE BRILL - Sandy Wexler, Adam Sandler – 100% Fresh

A native of Utica, New York, Steven Brill studied film, theater and acting at Boston University. It was there that he became a student of acclaimed, Nobel Prize winning poet and playwright, Derek Walcott. Brill became a part of Mr. Walcott’s first theater group in Boston, Playwright’s Theater, where he wrote and directed original plays. Brill continued to write plays and moved to Los Angeles where he began auditioning as an actor and writing screenplays as well. In his spare time, Brill would go skating at public ice rinks - which proved a fortuitous hobby. One day while watching a Pee Wee hockey practice, he was struck by the idea for THE MIGHTY DUCKS. Brill scripted the film, recalling his own youth hockey experience, and sold it to Walt Disney Pictures. Emilio Estevez was cast as Coach Gordon Bombay in the 1992 release. One year later, The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim entered their first NHL season. Brill next wrote and executive produced the 1995 sequel D2-THE MIGHTY DUCKS ARE BACK and in 1997, D3-THE MIGHTY DUCKS.

Brills directorial debut was the Disney film HEAVYWEIGHTS, a comedy about a group of kids at  a  weight loss summer camp starring Ben Stiller. He co-wrote the script with Judd Apatow, who also served as the executive producer. Next, Brill wrote and directed LATE LAST NIGHT for Screenland Pictures. LATE LAST NIGHT stars Emilio Estevez, Steven Weber and Catherine O’Hara.  It chronicles one intense night in the life of a man in Los Angeles. Brill wrote READY TO RUMBLE for Warner Brothers. He also worked as a writer on THE WEDDING SINGER,  BIG DADDY, and DOCTOR DOLITTLE.

He then directed and co-wrote LITTLE NICKY, with Adam Sandler for New Line Cinema. Also starring in the picture are Harvey Keitel, Patricia Arquette  and Reese Witherspoon. Brill followed that up by directing MR. DEEDS with Adam Sandler. Deed’s, also starring Winona Ryder came out in June of 2002 and made over 170 million at the box office worldwide. Brill then re-wrote and directed WITHOUT A PADDLE, starring Burt Reynolds, Seth Green and Matthew Lillard, for Paramount Pictures. He directed DRILLBIT TAYLOR produced by Judd Apatow and starring Owen Wilson for Paramount Pictures. In 2012 he made WALK OF SHAME, an original screenplay that he directed, starring Elizabeth Banks, for Lakeshore Entertainment.

In 2015, Brill directed THE DO-OVER for Netflix and Happy Madison co-starring David Spade. In 2016 Brill directed Sandler again in SANDY WEXLER. It Co-starred Jennifer Hudson as Courtney Clark. In 2017 through 2018 Brill filmed Sandler for his stand-up comedy special, ADAM SANDLER – 100% FRESH. Using over 20 venues and 40 performances it has been called “ground-breaking”  “brilliant” and Sandler’s, “best comedy in years.”

Aside from writing and directing, Brill has kept busy as an actor on such diverse films as SEX, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE, POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, BATMAN RETURNS, WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN, THE WEDDING SINGER and BIG DADDY, and KNOCKED UP.

IAN KARMEL - The Comedy Lineup, The Late Late Show with James Corden

Ian Karmel is a homegrown Portland comedian whose style zig-zags between the eclectic and the universal. Ian has written for both the 2017 and 2018 Grammy’s as well as the 2016 Tony Awards. His work on the Tony Awards earned him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special. Ian is currently a writer on CBS’ The Late Late Show with James Corden, previously he was writer and roundtable regular on E!’s Chelsea Lately. Ian’s skills as a standup will be featured in the upcoming Quarter Hour Specials on NETFLIX. Karmel made his late-night TV debut on TBS' Conan and was featured on Comedy Central’s Adam Devine’s House Party Season 2. In 2015, he released his debut album 9.2 on Pitchfork via the Portland based label Kill Rock Stars. In 2013, Ian was invited to the prestigious Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, where he was a breakout stand up in the New Faces category. Ian’s other television credits include IFC’s Portlandia and the Travel Channel’s Best Sandwich in America, as well as a post-game analyst and commentator for the Portland Trailblazers. Other festival appearances include the Bridgetown Comedy Festival and Moontower Comedy Festival in Austin. His training includes The Groundlings and the Upright Citizens Brigade and he is a regular contributor for the Portland Mercury in which is he currently writes the highly anticipated weekly column Everything as F*ck. He can be seen headlining various clubs throughout America and currently lives in Los Angeles.

JESSICA YU - Lady Dynatime, Maria Bamford: Old Baby

Jessica Yu is an Academy Award-winning and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and writer working in a variety of media and genres. Her recent feature documentaries include Last Call at the Oasis, a bracing look at the water crisis, and Misconception, an exploration of population issues. Short films include You Who Look, a portrait of the artist James Turrell, and, a chronicle of Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s invention of the World Wide Web within the context of the struggle over internet rights, and The Guide, the story of a budding Mozambican biologist's encounter with E.O. Wilson.

Jessica won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short for Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O’Brien, an intimate portrait of the writer who lived for four decades confined to an iron lung. Her features include Protagonist, a look at extremism through the lives of a spectrum of individuals, In the Realms of the Unreal, the celebrated documentary about outsider artist Henry Darger, for which she was nominated for a Writers Guild of America award, The Living Museum, a portrait of an art community in a New York psychiatric institution, and the Asian American cult comedy, Ping Pong Playa.

As a director, she has also worked on various shows, including American Crime, Lady Dynamite, Parenthood, Grey’s Anatomy, 13 Reasons Why, and The West Wing, as well as Maria Bamford’s one-hour Netflix comedy special, Old Baby.

A graduate of Yale University, Jessica has written pieces for several outlets, including the Los Angeles Times Magazine and Pacific News Service. Jessica lives in Southern California with her husband, the writer and teacher Mark Salzman, and their two daughters, Ava and Esme. Garden of the Lost and Abandoned is her first book.

JASON ZINOMAN (Moderator) - Comedy Critic, The New York Times

Jason Zinoman, who writes the On Comedy column for The New York Times, has worked as a critic and reporter at the paper for the past fifteen years. He reviews movies and has had regular columns that focus on theater and sports. In the Fall of 2011, he became the Times's first comedy critic, covering stand-up, improv and many other forms of humor. He is the author of the bestseller "Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night" and the history of 1970s horror  "Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood and Invented Modern Horror," as well as the kindle single "Searching for Dave Chappelle." He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two daughters.

About the USC Comedy Festival, Vol. 4

The 4th edition of the USC Comedy Festival comes at a time when comedy has emerged as a leader in discourses and causes for social justice and human rights, serving a galvanizing role for change in our fractured and polarized society. Affiliated with the USC Comedy track at the School of Cinematic Arts and the Jack Oakie and Victoria Horne Oakie Foundation, the festival will honor comedy legends, introduce notable emerging artists, address important issues and new developments in comedy form and content, and celebrate the work of our newest generation of USC Comedy students.

The USC Comedy Festival, Vol. 4 is dedicated to the memory of Paul Junger Witt, visionary film and television producer, and guiding force behind USC Comedy.

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About USC Comedy at the School of Cinematic Arts

In 2010 USC became the first university in the nation to offer a program dedicated to training filmmakers in the art of comedy. USC Comedy at the School of Cinematic Arts offers instruction in the writing, directing, production as well as the history and theory of comedy. Students work with a distinguished, award-winning faculty of comedy professionals to discover and develop their comedic voices, while getting unrivaled access to the field through workshops, internships, demonstrations and screenings and festivals.

USC Comedy boasts an award-winning faculty that includes Jack Epps Jr. (The Secret of My Success, Legal Eagles, Top Gun), Barnet Kellman (Murphy Brown, Mad About You, George Lopez), David Isaacs (Cheers, Frasier, M*A*S*H*), Bill Prady (The Big Bang Theory), John Bowman (Saturday Night Live, In Living Color), Dave Goetsch (The Big Bang Theory), Russ Woody (Drew Carrey), Mary Lou Belli (Girlfriends), and Tim Marx (Baby Daddy), to name just a few.

Our students benefit from the expertise and participation of SCA Comedy Alumni such as Jay Roach (Austin Powers, Meet the Parents), Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy), Peter Segal (Tommy Boy, Get Smart), Tim Story (Barber Shop, Ride Along), Gabe Sachs (Freaks and Geeks), Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air), and Nahnatchka Khan (Fresh Off The Boat), among many other luminaries and industry professionals.

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About USC Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative

Visions and Voices is a university-wide arts and humanities initiative that is unparalleled in higher education. The initiative was established by USC President C. L. Max Nikias during his tenure as provost in order to fulfill the goals set forth in USC's strategic plan; to communicate USC's core values to students; and to affirm the human spirit. Emphasizing the university's commitment to interdisciplinary approaches, the initiative features a spectacular array of events conceived and organized by faculty and schools throughout the university. The series includes theatrical productions, music and dance performances, conferences, lectures, film screenings and many other special events both on and off campus. Each program invites students to dialogue and interact with artists, writers, professors and special guests. These interactions provide a dynamic experience of the arts and humanities and encourage active exploration of USC's core values, including freedom of inquiry and expression, team spirit, appreciation of diversity, commitment to serving one's community, entrepreneurial spirit, informed risk-taking, ethical conduct and the search for truth.

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Check-In & Reservations

This event is free of charge and open to the public. Please bring a valid USC ID or print out of your reservation confirmation, which will automatically be sent to your e-mail account upon successfully making an RSVP through this website. Doors open at 1:00 P.M.

All SCA events are OVERBOOKED to ensure seating capacity in the theater, therefore seating is not guaranteed based on RSVPs. The RSVP list will be checked in on a first-come, first-served basis until the theater is full. Once the theater has reached capacity, we will no longer be able to admit guests, regardless of RSVP status.


The USC School of Cinematic Arts is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking passes may be purchased for $12.00 at the USC McClintock Entrance, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & McClintock Ave. We recommend buying a parking pass from the Gate Entrance, then turning left onto 34th Street and driving down to the USC Royal Street Structure, at the far end of 34th Street.

Contact Information

Name: Alessandro Ago