Comedian David Brenner Dies of Cancer at 78, ‘If This is a Joke Then I Don’t Get It’

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By Sachin Trivedi | March 17, 2014 5:02 PM EST

David Brenner, 78, one of the most frequent guests at "The Tonight Show," died while he was fighting cancer. Fans have taken to the social media to remember him and dig for his best comedy acts and videos.

Reuters
Comedian David Brenner and his girlfriend, champion figure skater Tai Babilonia, pose at an after party at the premiere of U.S singer-songwriter Barry Manilow's show 'Manilow: Music and Passion' at the Las Vegas Hilton Theatre in Las Vegas, Nevada in this February 24, 2005, file photo. David Brenner, the stand-up comedian who was celebrated for his observational comedy, died at his home in New York, a family spokesperson said on March 15, 2014. REUTERS/Ethan Miller/Files

Brenner died peacefully with his family at his side. He was survived by his wife, Ruth and his three sons, Cole, Wyatt and Slade and his grandson, Wesley. The announcement was made by his friend and publicist Jeff Abraham.

His last request reflected the sense of humor that made him so famous. He requested 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 place will have the words, "If this is supposed to be a joke - then I don't get it!"

Speaking to a reporter about his career goal, he had once said "I want to make as many people laugh, as heartily as they can, for as long as I can." Even at his death, he may have kept to his promise and career goal.

The veteran comedian was a regular on Jonny Carson's "The Tonight Show." He had also produced and directed several documentaries before deciding to do comedy. He is also the author of 5 books, his first book, "Soft Pretzel with Mustard," was a best seller.

According to his official Web site, he grew up in the poor sections of South and West Philadelphia. He attended Temple University where he graduated with honors, majoring in mass communications.

Fan messages are coming in on the social media. Many people expressed their sadness upon hearing the news and said that they would miss him. Many are posting his old photos and videos to remember him.

He reportedly had many comedy routines focusing on his life in New York and many people rank him among the best comedians they watched growing up. One of his latest projects was reviewing the latest games.

Brenner could have replaced Carson at "The Tonight Show" but the show went to Jay Leno. Conan O'Brien hosted the show for a short period and currently it is being hosted by Jimmy Fallon.

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(Photo: Reuters / )
Comedian David Brenner and his girlfriend, champion figure skater Tai Babilonia, pose at an after party at the premiere of U.S singer-songwriter Barry Manilow's show 'Manilow: Music and Passion' at the Las Vegas Hilton Theatre in Las Vegas, Nevada in this February 24, 2005, file photo. David Brenner, the stand-up comedian who was celebrated for his observational comedy, died at his home in New York, a family spokesperson said on March 15, 2014. REUTERS/Ethan Miller/Files
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