By Griffin Guinta
Stand-up comedian Brian Regan is coming home–at least for a few days. The South Florida native will bring hilarity and bouts of laughter to nearby Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall on Dec. 12 after stops on the east coast in Melbourne and Miami. Mr. Regan’s had himself quite a busy year, appearing on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Jerry Seinfeld, as well as pioneering a live Comedy Central stand-up special at Radio City Music Hall in New York City–the first of its kind.
Whether he’s taking the stage at 30 Rock or a small comedy club though, his mindset remains the same.
“Everything is important,” he said. “You never want to mail anything in. Whether it’s a show at a small comedy club or you’re doing a thing in front of a bunch of people or a podcast or Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, you still want to do the best you can.”
Before any of the fame, Regan was just a guy who liked telling stories and had a gift for performing in front of others. He recalls longing for the day he could have more than four minutes of stage time at the local comedy clubs; even idolizing the guy following him who got 12. From there, he steadily worked his way into the comedy scene, releasing his first CD, Brian Regan Live in 1997. Since then, he’s appeared on Letterman, Conan, and other late night shows, had several Comedy Central specials, and released four additional CD and DVD performances.
Despite selling out arenas and solidifying himself as one of America’s top comedians, Regan hesitates to call himself a household name. Perhaps it is that anonymity and “everyday man” persona that gives him his charm.
“It’s strange how I hit this sweet spot between having a following and being anonymous. Like I have the best of both worlds,” he said. “I [have] friends who are much more famous than me who sometimes wish they could be anonymous. I just feel very fortunate that I can go to a theater and say ‘wow, look at all these people who are here to see my show, yet I truly think if you asked 100 people in the United States who I am, 98 or 99 would not know. But that doesn’t bother me. I don’t care. It’s like, well I’ve got enough.”
While Regan is best known for routines that poke fun at awkward situations, such as the ridiculousness of driving one’s self to the hospital (“Why is there no valet parking at hospitals? If that isn’t the biggest oversight in our solar system…”) he doesn’t like to ride on the coattails of previous successes. For him, the fun part is consistently coming up with new routines and seeing how audiences react to fresh material.
“As much as I like the fact that people like my older stuff, I prefer to do the newer stuff. A compliment that always feels good is ‘I liked your stuff, I thought it was funny.” I also like when people say ‘I’ve never heard those jokes before.’ To me that’s a compliment,” he said.
Still, you can’t please everyone. At a comedy club a few years ago, Regan was approached by a woman outraged at the fact that he didn’t perform his bit about barking dogs.
“I walk off stage and there’s this table next to the stage, and this woman grabbed my arm, angrily, and said: ‘I brought everyone to see the dog barking, and you didn’t do it– thanks a lot!’ And then she threw my arm away as if it were a piece of trash,” he said.
One of the biggest draws to Regan’s act is his relatability and knack for making routine situations compelling. Through self-deprecating humor, unabashed physicality and timely sarcasm, he captures moments on, as he puts it, “his journey through this world.”
“To me Brian Regan plays on those awkward moments in life that everyone has but rarely talks about,” said senior theatre major Brian Stanco. “He shows the comedy in encounters between people, which everyone can relate to. Many times my family has called someone ‘buckaroo’ or freaked out walking through a spider web and burst out laughing because of Brian Regan.”
Sophomore English Literature major Megan Lucchesi agrees with Stanco.
“I love how [Regan] capitalizes on the fact that there is a little bit of stupidity in everyone no matter their intelligence. It allows the audience to reflect back on their life and think , “wow I remember when I did something that stupid” and it allows them to sympathize along with him,” she said.
Many often point to his lack of profanity or relative “cleanness” as a distinguishing factor, but Regan insists it isn’t deliberate. If anything, his denotation as clean is accentuated by the myriad of comedians who choose to employ darker, dirtier subjects. In his eyes there’s no gimmick; he’s just being himself.
“When some people hear the expression ‘clean comedy’ they wrap their heads around something that might be markedly different from what I actually do. If people have never seen me and they hear ‘clean comedian’ they might think ‘oh, he’s like a wholesome little kid act that twists balloon animals on stage,’” Regan laughed.
“I like to talk about things that are not necessarily kid oriented. I like to talk about politics, signing work documents, and going to the doctor…It’s an art form, and I just choose a style, of way of doing it, I guess throw four letter words and stuff like that, but to me it’s just something that I do. I think other people are more intrigued with it than I am.”
On December 12th, Regan will show the Tampa Bay area what he’s all about; bringing his accessible-to-all routine to one of the area’s premier venues. Don’t miss your chance to see one of the most down to earth comedians around. Tickets can be found at: http://www.rutheckerdhall.com/event/brian-regan/16869/#.Vk863t-rTIF.