Neal Brennan is the comedy whisperer.

Over the past 25 years, he's helped famous friends punch up their material, usually without much fanfare. "Chappelle's Show"? He co-created it. "Inside Amy Schumer"? He directed 10 episodes. Seth Meyers' blistering takedown of Donald Trump during the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner? Key member of the writing team. Ellen DeGeneres' "Relatable," which marked her triumphant return to stand-up? Consulting producer.

But Brennan, 48, is a formidable talent all on his own. That'll be evident to anyone who catches his latest one-man performance, "Unacceptable," Friday and Saturday at the Parkway Theater.

He spoke by phone from his Los Angeles home about his past contributions and his future dreams.

Q: "Unacceptable" and your previous stand-up show, "3 Mics," were both huge off-Broadway hits. How difficult is it to take the act on the road?

A: It's not hard in general. Traveling is hard. It's like running for president. Portions of the show I had to change. There was an element about New York that involved a wall that I don't do on the road because I can't move the wall. But you still get the funny parts. It generally doesn't matter where you perform. There are certain jokes like my takes on marriage and kids that work in New York and Los Angeles, the heathen cities. But when I did them in Phoenix, the audience only got half of it. People there are really invested in marriage and kids.

Q: I wonder if you have the perfect amount of fame. You're recognized by those who really appreciate comedy but don't have to deal with the hassles of being a major celebrity. What do you think?

A: People don't really care about writers. They care about Larry David now, but that's only because he's the star of his own show. I'd like be more popular as a comedian so I can get on more talk shows. I would like it to be easier to sell tickets. But I don't want to get to the level of Dave, Chris [Rock] and Ellen where people cry when they see them. What good is that? People don't see the downside of being famous. It's such a hassle to enter front entrances at places. They have to go through the service areas, which stink of garbage.

Q: Do you ever get jealous of a friend's success?

A: Dave would say I'm competitive, that I'd rather beat him in an argument than in a ticket-sale contest. We have an ongoing joke, that my wish is that Dave's final thought on Earth is, "Neal was right." At the end of the day, I want to be on the team that's winning, even if I'm not personally scoring.

Q: You came up with the "Saturday Night Live" sketch right after 2016 election in which host Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock are unfazed by Donald Trump's win while the white people around them are freaking out. How do you end up contributing such a classic bit when you're not even on the "SNL" staff?

A: When a comedian is the host, they will often bring their own person or two. Like when Richard Pryor hosted, he brought along Paul Mooney, who helped write the word association sketch. I pitched my idea to [co-head writer] Colin Jost around midnight on Tuesday and then again Wednesday morning. Dave made it more from the point of view of a Black guy looking at the rest of America and Black cynicism.

Q: How do you and Dave collaborate?

A: We have a policy we try to hold onto where we don't say who wrote what because no one ever asks for a good reason. They're usually asking because they want to discount one of you.

Q: I'm not. I'm genuinely curious about the process.

A: You're the exception, sweetheart. Generally speaking, I'm not going to slam someone's premise. It's my job to make that person's jump out of an airplane safer. Even if I'm skeptical of the premise, once we're doing it, I try to buy in and add what I can. The best example of that is the Black Bush sketch we did on "Chappelle's Show." I didn't think it was a good premise. But once I knew Dave wanted to do it, I came up with as much as I could. What I underestimated was that it's fun to watch Dave do stuff and fun to watch a Black guy take on a famous white person.

Q: There's a theory out there that Seth's jokes about Trump at the Correspondents' Dinner was one of the reasons he ran for president. Do you buy that?

A: It's not a thing I think about, but comedy is powerful. Some people think "Chappelle's Show" made the world less racist. Maybe. Maybe there's a net positive.

Q: With your growing success as a stand-up are you less excited about writing for others?

A: I haven't really written for other people in three or four years. Now I just direct commercials and do stand-up. But Chris [Rock] was out here a couple weeks ago and we showed each other new material. He had some stuff for me and I had some stuff for him. Will I get credit on his new special? Maybe. I didn't even get paid for the Ellen thing. I don't really see that as being part of my career now. It's just a thing I do.

Neal Brennan

When: 7 p.m. Fri.-Sat.

Where: Parkway Theater, 4814 Chicago Av. S., Mpls.

Tickets: $25-$35.