David Brenner, 'Tonight Show' Favorite, Dies At 78

Comedian David Brenner has died at 78. Brenner appeared on "The Tonight Show" a record 158 times.
Posted at 11:37 PM, Mar 15, 2014

Stand-up comedian and "Tonight Show" favorite David Brenner died Saturday evening at the age of 78.

Brenner's publicist confirmed to multiple media outlets Saturday that the comedian died peacefully in his New York City home following a battle with cancer. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

Brenner made his "Tonight Show" debut in 1971, and went on to perform in 158 episodes, more appearances than any other guest. He also filled in as host for Johnny Carson several times.

A pioneer observational comic, Brenner also appeared on a slew of other late-night shows over his career. He also wrote five books, his latest published in 2003.

Many prominent Hollywood comedians fondly remembered Brenner on Twitter. Paul Rieser called Brenner "such a huge part of why so many of us became comics," while Joan Rivers laments, "I adored him, and laughed more with him than anybody."

In the later part of his career Brenner switched from observational comedy to jokes based on current events and politics. He told CBS in a 2013 interview that comedy plays an important part in society.

"Laughter is like a salve that you put on a wound until you can get to a doctor and he can fix it permanently. It doesn't take away what's bad, but it makes you get through it."

Even in death, Brenner had one last joke for the world. On his official site, Brenner's family writes "In David's final request, he asked that one hundred dollars in small bills be placed in his left sock 'just in case tipping is recommended where I'm going.' His final resting spot will read: 'If this is a joke — then I don't get it!'"

Brenner is survived by his wife Ruth, his three sons Cole, Wyatt and Slade, and by his grandson Wesley.