Before I get on to documenting the past weekend’s big news in live comedy, let us all take a moment to honor Bernie Brillstein, the manager and producer who died Thursday night at the age of 77. Variety has an industry obit, and here is Nikki Finke’s take on Brillstein.
The biggest thing I remember about taking part in the Seattle comedy competition 10 years ago was the fact that someone from Brillstein-Grey would be judging us. That name meant a chance at stardom. Because Brillstein had an eye for talent that stretched back for decades. When SNL launched in 1975, Brillstein served as manager for Lorne Michaels, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Gilda Radner. Them’s good pickings right there. He also helped the careers of Adam Sandler, Martin Short, Jim Belushi, Dana Carvey, Dennis Miller. And that’s just a taste of the comedians he worked with. He also helped launch the Muppets! Here’s what he wrote for Variety in 2002: "Where has all the talent gone? Or, more to the point, where have all the people who love and respect talent gone? There’s nothing like the thrill you get in discovering a real talent; it’s a great feeling to share that discovery with the world. And to know you were there for the beginning.” Brillstein came out of William Morris and built his own business, which in partnership with Brad Grey, became known for the best and brightest talents in the 1990s. Part of the thrill I get out of covering comedy is discovering new talents and sharing them with the world. So to you, Bernie Brillstein, thanks for the memories. A memorial for Brillstein is planned for today at UCLA.