On a Tuesday night at the Lynn Redgrave Theater, a small stage in Manhattan, the comedian Neal Brennan was previewing his new stand-up routine, titled 3 Mics, which isn’t your typical stand-up routine at all. The crowd was littered with celebrities, including Daily Show correspondent Hasan Minhaj and Chad Coleman, of The Wire and The Walking Dead. Coleman, a bit drunk, was playfully heckling and laughing at volumes that disrupted his friend Brennan’s concentration. Brennan, perturbed, was forceful enough to shush and politely shame his friend into some approximation of silence. Quiet, Chad, this is serious.

Comedians are a sad lot; that their currency is laughter suggests emotional buoyancy that many comedians lack. (Richard Pryor and transcendent oddball Robin Williams are just two tragic examples of when these personal demons take control of a comedian’s life.)

Brennan seemed to be channeling the late Robin Williams with his new one-man show, which is currently in a brief run in New York City. 3 Mics is stand-up in literal form, if not quite in spirit; the show is two parts comedy, one part therapy, split across three microphones, total. The setup is simple: three microphones are set across the stage. The mic on stage right is reserved for Brennan’s punchy one-liners. At stage left, he banters in a conventional routine. But at the center mic, Brennan recounts his childhood, discusses his lifelong struggles with depression, and commemorates his late father in resentful detail.

Brennan is mostly known for co-creating Chappelle’s Show a decade ago, and for his own podcast, The Champs, which he co-hosts with Moshe Kasher. A week before the hard launch of 3 Mics at the Lynn Redgrave Theater, I met up with Brennan to discuss his newly patented blend of comedy and tragedy, the recent finale of his The Champs, and the perils of being a comedian in the age of social media backlash.