OKLAHOMA CITY – It’s not often you’ll find in the bizarre, resentment filled field of stand-up comedy that one comedian could be so universally liked and respected. Brian Regan is more than just a comic’s comic. He’s more like the people’s comic.
He has a reputation for inadvertently having a clean act free of “blue” material, filthy language or basically anything that would embarrass you if you took your parents to see him live.
His act is also free of nasty, snarky cynicism that usually runs rampant in modern stand-up. Regan’s style is one of the purist forms of funny, complete with relatable antidotes, funny-but-oh-so-true stories and the facial expressions of a classic comedic silent film era goofball.
The praise from Regan’s peers even takes him aback. “First of all it’s incredibly flattering, but when I do come up with some corn-ball joke, it makes me think ‘I had people saying kind words about me and now they’re in the back of the room listening to this nonsense,’” admits Regan.
“I do a relatively non-abrasive show up there, talking about Fig Newtons and Pop Tarts and these guys (comedians) who were just on stage saying ‘eff this and eff that’ say ‘hey, I really love your stuff,’ I just doesn’t seem right,” explains Regan.
Instead of taking the usual route of stand-up comedy then network sit-com, Regan has stayed true to his craft of pure stage comedy. But that doesn’t mean he never wanted TV show spotlight.
“I did want that a number of years ago but for a variety of reasons it just didn’t play out. I was lucky enough to open for Jerry Seinfeld a few years after his TV show was on, and he was playing these big theaters. I thought you had to get on a TV show to get big enough to warrant playing in a theater, but I kind of got lucky enough along the way to do it without going that route,” said Regan.
So how exactly did Regan build up a loyal fan base to consistently fill those theaters? “I was playing this video game, Katamari, with my son. It’s this ball that keeps rolling along and keeps picking up objects and getting bigger and bigger. And I thought, ‘this is just like my career,’” jokes Regan.
Comics usually make for solid late night talk show hosts, and for Regan, the opportunity did present itself, but proved to be a little tougher than he first thought.
“I tried that a number of years ago. On Comedy Central there was a show called “Short Attention Span Theatre” hosted by Jon Stewart (“The Daily Show”), I don’t know what ever happened to that guy, but I filled in for about six months. I had to do a little of everything, including interviewing people and I never knew how incredibly difficult it is,” explains Regan.
“Not only are you talking to someone, but a guy is offstage giving you weird hand signals. I can barely do one thing at a time, let alone carry on a conversation, try to have it end at an entertaining moment and do a countdown clock in my head. I’m not qualified for this. Just put me on stage and let me do a couple of knock-knock jokes,” continues Regan.
It wasn’t until Regan changed his major in college from accounting to commutation/theater arts that he ever thought about taking his life down the funny route.
“I made a big mistake my first time. I did stand-up at the campus bar in front of all my friends. There’s a fictional quality to stand up and you play with time a bit, you want everything to sound immediate. So I’m on stage and I say, ‘I was on a bus today’ and my friends shout, ‘no you weren’t, you were with us,’ it was a disaster,” quips Regan.
“My best heckle of all time was someone who was really paying attention to my act. Years ago I did a joke about flying in to this town. Then I did a joke about driving a rental car into town. And then, about ten minutes after that I did a joke about riding a Greyhound Bus into town, and this guy in the back yells, ‘that’s three modes of transportation!’ The fact he used ‘modes’ in a heckle was just hilarious,” jokes Regan.
Just because Regan works clean, that doesn’t mean the humor still isn’t adult themed. “I have plenty of stuff a kid can relate to, but also plenty of stuff that he’s not going to understand. I have jokes about having high cholesterol. I couldn’t see a 9-year-old shout, ‘do it again, then do that thing where you talk about signing the mortgage documents,’” adds Regan.
Regan will perform live in concert Thurs., Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. CST at the Rose State College Performing Arts Theater in Midwest City. For tickets, call the Rose State box office at (405) 297-2264 or purchase online.
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