Why So Serious, Brian Regan?By John Wenzel | August 10th, 2012 | No Comments »
Brian Regan may as well have a cabin in the high country and Broncos season tickets, given how frequently the comedian performs in Colorado.
Like fellow comic Jim Gaffigan, the razor-sharp 54-year-old Florida native eschews profanity and overt controversy for a more general-audience approach, resulting in a consistently fresh act and one of the most fiercely loyal audiences of any touring stand-up.
We caught up with Regan via e-mail in advance of his rare club shows, at Comedy Works South on Wednesday, Aug. 15 and Thursday, Aug. 16, and his headlining set at Colorado Springs’ Pikes Peak Center on Friday, Aug. 17.
You play Colorado more than any big touring comedian I can think of. I know you tour a lot in general, but what is it about your audience that allows you to stop through so often?
The people of Colorado laugh at my jokes. So I bring my jokes to the people of Colorado. Also, I do like to turn the material over, so hopefully the people of Colorado like that too. (By the way, that is the most times I have ever used the expression “The people of Colorado.”)
How was the experience of doing Marc Maron’s WTF podcast recently? Have you ever thought about doing your own?
I enjoyed chatting with Marc Maron back in his little podcast garage. He does his research and listens to the answers. I don’t think I’d want to do my own podcast. I can’t think of anything longer than one minute that would be interesting to say.
What were you thinking the first time you stepped on stage to do comedy? And what were you thinking immediately after you stepped off stage?
There were a few “first times” for my stand-up comedy. I tried it in front of friends in my college bar. That was bad. Then I tried it advertised as a “comedian” in front of a bunch of kids and their parents, opening for Mickey Mouse cartoons. That was horrible. Then I tried it in an actual comedy club. That was great. All those experiences were wildly different from each other.
People like to describe comedy with any number of tortured metaphors (killing or dying on stage, crushing and being crushed, etc.) What’s your favorite way to think of it?
When I have a good set, I usually say, “I just tickled the big furry belly of the beast!” Actually, I’ve never said that. Usually, I don’t say anything. I’d feel very egotistical saying to anyone after I’ve just killed, “Guess what I just did? I KILLED!”
What’s a joke you used to love to tell that has been retired from your act, and why?
When nobody knew who I was, I used to start with a routine where I walked onstage, looked around, pulled a piece of paper out of my pocket, and “read” my act. Included in what I read were lines like, “Where are you from? Point to person in front row.” Of course, I read the “Point to person in front row” part. Since this joke was making fun of someone new and naive, I can’t really get away with it now.
When was the last time you laughed so hard you cried, and why?
I laugh a lot, but I don’t think I laugh as freely as I used to when I was young. When I was young, if I thought something was funny, I just laughed. Now, when I think something is funny, I half laugh and half analyze why it’s funny.
What’s one of the worst things you’ve ever felt bad laughing about?
Other people’s looks. When I was a kid, I remember making fun of some young girl’s appearance. We had learned in school that day about the difference between convex and concave. That day at lunch, I pointed to a girl in the cafeteria and said, “See that girl’s face? Now I know what concave means.” Everybody around me thought it was funny as hell. I regret it to this day.
What’s your favorite joke of the moment?
My current favorite joke is this: “They say the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” (Audience stares awkwardly.) “Darn, that NEVER gets a laugh!”
BRIAN REGAN. 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Wednesday; 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Thursday. Comedy Works South, 5345 Landmark Place in Greenwood Village. 8 p.m. Aug. 17. Pikes Peak Center, 190 S. Cascade Ave. in Colorado Springs. $39.75-$50. <720-274-6800 or comedyworks.com; 719-520-7469 or pikespeakcenter.com.
John Wenzel is an A&E reporter and blogs editor for The Denver Post and the author of “Mock Stars: Indie Comedy and the Dangerously Funny” (Speck Press/Fulcrum). Follow him @johntwenzel and @beardsandgum.