Comic Spanky Brown, a frequent Knoxville visitor and Memphis native, has died. He was 56.
Brown, whose real name was Byron Yeldell, died May 11 in Virginia, according to an obituary notice.
He was due to come to Knoxville on June 11 for a gig at the International, his website shows.
Many will remember the night in 2013 when he opened for Dave Chappelle at the Tennessee Theatre in Knoxville.
Brown delivered a raucous set ahead of Chappelle, but some in the crowd turned unruly and began heckling when the headliner took over. Brown tried to settle the audience down so Chappelle could carry out his show uninterrupted.
Comics and comedy clubs have been paying tribute to Brown.
“It is with shock and extreme sadness to announce the death of Spanky Brown,” the Comedy House in Columbia, S.C., announced last week. “He was a beloved friend who was one of the best comedians to ever perform in the Comedy House. He found his way into our hearts in 1997 at an Open Mic at the Comedy House Theatre in Savannah, Ga. The world is just not as funny without Spanky Brown.”
The Comedy Zone in Charlotte, N.C., will pay homage June 6.
About Brown they posted on May 17: “The comedy world has lost one of its most beloved family members. One of the most genuine and genuinely funny people on the planet. Join us on June 6th as we celebrate the life of Spanky Brown. 100% of ticket sales will go to his family.”
Sean McCarthy, who documents and reports on comedy and comics in America on The Comic’s Comic website, praised Brown for his willingness to help a young comic out.
“Truth was, Spanky made sure he helped others work their way up the comedy ladder. As a testament to his loving and generous spirit, many comedians talked of him this weekend like a big brother or uncle, describing how often he’d get them gigs, either opening for him, or vouching for them with other bookers,” McCarthy wrote May 13.
His TV credits included appearances on Discovery ID and Speed Network, as well as performances on BET’s Comic View, according to McCarthy.
Watch some of his stand-up below;