John Brennan

Timmy Finch of The Have Nots! might well have dedicated a special shelf in his home to displaying the Best Comic plaques he’s won over the years — five of them altogether. But for the first time since we introduced the category in 2002, the Reader’s Pick award is going to someone else. The irony is that this year’s recipient, Theatre 99 member John Brennan, is Finch’s protogée and his partner in the two-man improv act Big Dicktionary.

Brennan’s been salivating for the honor for years, but he knew Finch wasn’t going to abdicate the throne without a fight. So early this year he had business cards made — similar to the ones he created to encourage online votes for his NFL Super Ad campaign last December — asking people to vote for him for Best Comic. It was a bald-faced effort to get out the vote and erode his own mentor’s base.

It worked. Not only did Brennan win Best Comic this year, but he also won Best Actor, despite the fact that he made no mention of the category on his cards and appeared in only a single play last year — in a supporting role.

“You gotta love shameless self-promotion,” he chuckles. “I had to laugh when I learned I won Best Actor, considering the only play I was in last year was Hobo the Musical, as Goon #2. I must have really wowed them.”

In fact, much of the credit for Brennan’s sweep of the two categories likely goes to the visibility he received during the Super Ad campaign. He was one of 12 finalists out of a nationwide crowd who auditioned in New York and elsewhere with their pitch for an ad for the NFL to run during the Super Bowl. To select the ultimate winner, NFL fans were encouraged to watch the 12 finalists’ pitches online at the NFL’s website and vote for the one they liked most. Brennan had articles about him in both this paper and The Post and Courier. He didn’t make the final cut, but the visibility he generated nabbed him a couple of plaque-shaped consolation prizes.

At the moment, Brennan’s workshopping a new one-man show. Titled The Banana Monologues, it’s based on a book written by fellow T99er and musician Jason Cooper. And he’s applying to Second City’s directing program again — he was accepted into the vaunted improv comedy training school last year but didn’t have the money to attend.

In the meantime, Finch is keeping a brave face about the news.

“Timmy called me up and he congratulated me,” Brennan smiles. “He was all right.”