BRIAN REGAN: THE COMIC CONNECTION
By Paul Freeman [2009 Interview]
Brian Regan, whose latest CD is titlted “All By Myself,” estimated that his sets incorporate at least 60 percent unrecorded comic gems.
“Years ago, I got kind of lazy. I got to where I was performing around the country, headlining. But I didn’t have any CDs out. I had my hour and I was kind of coasting on it. Eventually I noticed that audience numbers were starting to dwindle. I had lost what I loved about standup at the beginning - that high wire feel, where you’re doing new stuff. So I started writing again and things started kicking back into the right direction.
“There’s always fresh stuff I want to try.... or sometimes there’s old stuff in my notebooks and I’ll think, ‘I tried this 15 years ago. I didn’t know how to make it work. Maybe if I tried it from a different angle, I might be able to get it to work.”
Regan likes the risks of standup. “My favorite moments on stage are when I’m going, ‘Oh, boy, here comes the new one.’ You throw it out there and you don’t know what’s going to happen. But that’s the thrill of it.”
A favorite of David Letterman, Conan O’Brien and Comedy Central, Regan is constantly finding new comic inspirations.
“I just live my life. I read, I watch TV. I’m a husband and I’m a daddy. And I’ll see or experience something and think, ‘Maybe that’s a bit. Maybe there’s a joke there.’ You try it on stage and the audience will let you know whether you were right or not.
“When the idea comes, you hope you have the discipline to find a scrap of paper and jot it down. Hopefully you write enough information that, when you look at it a month later, you’ll know what you’re talking about. Sometimes you’ll come across a napkin that says, ‘police,’ ‘shoes’ and ‘Connecticut.’ You go, ‘What? I was in Connecticut. Did I see some funny police shoes? Maybe I should have thrown a verb in there somewhere.’”
Regan’s observations touch on such topics as marriage, cooking shows, abstract art, and speed reading. He avoids material that’s blue, political or cruel.
“I remember reading some theoretical perspective on what comedy is. They talked about the slipping-on-the-banana-peel thing. They said people laugh at that, because it’s someone else’s pain that they don’t have to experience, that they can see from afar. I’ve never laughed at other people’s pain. Maybe that’s part of the formula that’s been missing for me,” he laughed.
“There’s a lot of comedy out there where it’s about making fun of other people. I’d rather make fun of myself, or us, the human condition, but hopefully in a fairly positive way. It’s more celebratory than negative.”
Growing up in Miami, Regan had a natural gift for making his friends laugh. “When you’re older, you take this little ability and you learn how to hone it, how to get to the meat of a joke quicker than you might have when you were younger. You want to trim all the fat, take all the extraneous stuff out and get to the crux of it.”
In college, Regan studied to become an accountant. Because he made his teammates laugh, his football coach suggested he try the Theater Arts department.
Regan recalled a club that allowed local comics to perform after the regular standup show was over. “It was great training. Not only were you trying to make people laugh, you were trying to keep people in the room.”
Open mikes led to paying gigs, where he had to prove himself, night after night. Regan’s sharp material, rubbery face, wild noises and energetic gesturing made him a distinctive presence.
“My jokes are basically little vignettes, little plays. I act them out. I don’t even realize what it looks like until someone films it and I see it on TV. Then I’ll think,’ I had no idea I was so physical!’”
When he’s writing, he seeks originality. “I like it when I feel like, ‘This is definitely a Brian Regan thought. This could not possibly have come from any other brain.’”
When he’s not on the road, Regan and his brain reside in Las Vegas. “I figured, there’s got to be someplace on Earth that’s hotter than Miami.”
Regan loves generating hilarious heat on stage. “It’s fun to get a roll going, to get people walking out when it’s over, saying, ‘That was a good time.’
“There’s something about laughing that is magical, whether you’re the laugher or the causer of the laugh. To me, it’s a beautiful connection.”
For the latest news and tour dates, visit, www.brianregan.com.