Larry Getlen of freshman comedy industry mag Mirth reported Monday that Brill was given the pinkslip for “speaking to the press without authorization,” and a source confirmed the report.
Brill caused a stir this weekend when he told the New York Times that “there are a lot less female comics who are authentic. I see a lot of female comics who to please an audience will act like men.” The article in question was a profile of Brill by Jason Zinoman, and Brill was responding to a question about why so few female comics were booked on the show.
The controversy was dissected over at Mirth, where Brill said in the comments section that his words had been taken out of context. Zinoman responded with transcribed questions and quotes, and Brill subsequently apologized to “all who have been affected by this.”
But a source tells Variety that Brill’s firing was due less to his insensitivity than to other, less publicized grievances aired in the article, namely questions about conflicts of interest. “[Only] 22 comics, including Bill Cosby, Jerry Seinfeld and less famous performers, were lucky enough to get segments last year, and comedians presumably take [Brill’s] classes hoping for an edge in getting on the show,” Zinoman wrote. He quoted Anthony Jesselnik, a stand-up who has appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s program, saying that Brill “trades on” the Letterman imprimatur. “He has workshops, a festival,” Jesselnik said. “He has the market cornered. I can’t believe Letterman lets him do it.”
Brill is expected to remain at Letterman as warm-up comedian, and the booking process will likely return to its pre-Brill system, in which comics scouted at standup venues will be invited to perform for producers of the show.
A spokeswoman for “The Late Show” declined comment.