Brian Regan: Show Me the Funny

Have you ever imagined chatting with a famous comedian and actually making them laugh? Perhaps I’m flattering myself and live my life in lollipop fields complete with a pasture of unicorns and leprechauns, but in my twisted psychosis I was able to experience that with a legendary standup comic Brian Regan. After jabs back and forth about hotel mini-bars and pillowcases full of liquor bottles, Pop Tart jokes, the Canadian Metric System, and Dane Cook, we muddled through a hilarious early morning interview.

Devoted to the art form of stand-up for almost 25 years, Brian Regan has built his reputation from the bottom up, offering a dish of both sophisticated writing and unmatched physicality. Taking cues from real-life situations and adding his own hyperbolic spin is Regan’s modus operandi when it comes to his performances. Regan’s delivery never seems rehearsed as a result of his ability to relate to his audiences with everyday topics including confusing breakfast baking instructions, Christmas, decorations, and parenthood.  These topics continue to resonate with audiences from coast to coast as his crippling quips amuse both in live performances and the occasional television stand-up appearance (his first being The Late Show with David Letterman in 1995).

Known for his rigorous touring schedule, which keeps him busy 26 out the 52 weeks during the year, the funnyman doesn’t foresee himself making the switch from stand-up to sitcoms or the big screen. When asked if he had ever been approached to a television show or movie, Regan explains that the Hollywood stars simply never aligned to carry him in that artistic direction.

“I haven’t had any breaks to do movies, so I just keep doing standup,” says Regan. “I’m at a point in my career, where I just don’t think I could have a boss.”

In other words, what Regan wants is creative control. After decades of being involved in the comedy game, he would like to be chief of operations when it comes to making decisions about his future. His recent stint on Jerry Seinfeld’s online series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, which features prominent figures in the business including Larry David and Alec Baldwin, highlights his selectivity when it comes to doing projects other than his own standup.

“I like the autonomy of what I do. I like stand-up and not having to run my stuff by anybody,” he says, adding, “I’d like to do a t.v. thing, but I’d want it to be about my comedy and me as a comedian. I don’t want to have any higher ups telling me what I can or can’t say.”

Known as a comedian’s comedian, it’s not surprising Regan chooses this particular disposition when it comes to making decisions about his future career path. Not a bad move considering he sells out most performances.

Despite holding a place as one of the premiere comics in stand-up, Regan demonstrates his self-discovery was purely organic.  Going to a small college in the Midwest before the advent of smartphones and the intraweb, he was sheltered from the barrage of media outlets we have today, that give us access to “funny,” with the simple click of a mouse.

“Basically I didn’t have any influences because I was at a college in Ohio before the internet and satellite television,” he continues. “My first thoughts as a comedian were me in my own goofy head trying to come up with stuff, and I think that was good for me not to be overly influenced by anyone because there was no way to be influenced.”

While this may sound archaic to many young audiences who are probably too busy texting to read this article in fact, Regan’s story relates to most baby boomers who grew up on Steve Martin and the sharp tongue of George Carlin.  This was a time when graphing calculators were the same price as a Hyundai, and without the benefit of a lifetime warranty.

Martin and Carlin represent a few of Regan’s favorites, as well as comedians he would choose to go on tour with him if he had his way.  If Jerry Seinfeld wasn’t a big enough baller in the laughs industry, then perhaps his improv performance with Monty Python’s John Cleese will impress.  Humbled by the chance to be on stage with the legendary British actor, Regan recounts the experience:

“I was like Holy Toledo – this guy is a brilliant comedic actor and it was comforting to me that he wasn’t completely comfortable with getting up there and doing improv,” he explains. When I asked the comic if he had any pre-show rituals or superstitions, like donning a pair of mismatched socks, or wearing a lucky piece of underwear, Regan alluded to a nightmare we can all relate to, legendary comedians or otherwise:

“My biggest fear as a comedian is that you kill a show for an entire hour and then you realize your microphone is off and your zipper is down.”

Though his fears have never transferred to reality, you get the chance to see if he makes any of the aforementioned snafus when he performs live in concert on Oct. 14, at the Mount Baker Theatre.

Finally, during my interview I asked him what type of animal would he be, he answered with “Cheetah.” Seems fitting, I was barely able to keep up with his expeditious wit from the other side of the receiver.

Catch Brian Regan at the Mount Baker Theatre on Oct. 14. For more information, visit his website at brianregan.com.