Armed with a giant pot of black coffee, Brian Regan spoke with the Weekender from home amid a day of calls with the media.
“I’m trying to make myself sound interesting,” the comedian said with a chuckle. “I have three and a half hours worth of interviews, and you get kind of sick of yourself. With this, it’s just, ‘Me, me, me, I, me, me,’ and when you hang up, you just go, ‘I’ve got to get back to reality.’”
It’s no surprise that constant talk of oneself might be a little strange for Regan, who seems as down-to-earth and humble as they come. Regan is known for his exaggerated antics on stage – hilarious faces, goofball actions in general – but he’s a pretty calm guy when you get him one on one.
Regan has a knack for turning the mundane into not only something hilarious, but effortlessly relatable. Who hasn’t had strange dealings with UPS or the phone company?
He’s got 26 David Letterman appearances and a nomination for Best Concert Comic for the 2014 American Comedy Awards under his belt, and he’ll hit the stage at the F.M. Kirby Center April 24.
WEEKENDER: You mainly do stand-up on the road. Does traveling from city to city so much get tiring?
BRIAN REGAN: I like to do it, and what a lot of people don’t realize is, even though I do a lot of shows, I only work half the weekends of the year. I try to work like every other weekend, and a typical weekend is four one-nighters – Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday – and then I’ll try to take the next week and a half off. Then I go out and do another four one-nighters. I’m home much more than I’m away, but if you look at my tour calendar, all you see is the shows, so you go, “Wow, this guy’s never home.” Maybe I should put my off days in my calendar so instead you go, “Wow, he does chill out sometimes!”
W: Do you have any pre-show rituals?
BR: Silly stuff, you know, nothing… I’m not like lighting candles and doing things that are really momentous. But I always re-tie my shoes just because one time my shoelace somewhat came untied on stage and I felt my shoe getting looser and looser. You’ve got a microphone in your hand, and it’s not very easy to tie a shoe with two hands and a microphone in one of the hands; it’s a lot more challenging than one might think. So I re-tie my shoes before my shows. That’s my secret to success.
W: Your expressions on stage are so exaggerated. Are you like that at all in real life when telling a story?
BR: I’m much more subdued. I can be funny, but I’m not on like a light bulb. The biorhythms are a little more normal with your ups and downs than they are on stage. When you’re on stage, you’re on stage as a comedian, so it’s me on stage, but I’ve got that comedy light bulb burning. It’s like, “OK, this is the mode I’m in for an hour.” In fact, it’s kind of weird sometimes when you’re off stage and people from a show will come up, “Hey can we get a picture and you?” and they go, “Make one of your goofy faces!” and I’m like, “Well, I’m not like a goofball all the time. Can’t I look like a normal human in your picture please?”
W: You’re labeled as a clean comedian. Is that something you strive for when you write material or does it just end up that way?
BR: More the latter. I don’t sit down in front of a blank piece of paper and say, “Come on, clean comedy, come out of me! I want lily white comedy jokes to end up on this page!” I just think about what I like to think about as a comedian, and I tend to talk about everyday things and normal stuff, and it just doesn’t happen to go in certain directions. I think some people get the wrong idea and think, “Wow, this guy must be Johnny Wholesome offstage,” and that’s just, you know, I’m no darker or less dark than anybody else off stage. If somebody were to golf with me and watch me hit my third shot in a row in the woods, they’re going to hear some words come out of my mouth that don’t end up on the stage.
W: Because you do deal in everyday humor, are you constantly seeing things as bits in your everyday life?
BR: It’s more every now and then. I don’t walk around with an antenna up; I don’t want to feel like I’m constantly working. I’ve got two wonderful kids, and I like being a daddy when I’m off stage or at home. I just try to be in that mode, but of course you’re going to see things and experience things and observe things, and every once in a while, you’ll come across something that’s funny and go, “That could be a bit right there.” I try to keep the normal flow of my life.
W: Having children must give you a ton of new material.
BR: Yes and no. I mean, it does give you another source of comedy, but I like the fact that I have all kinds of fans, many of whom don’t have kids, so I don’t want to have my show be a family comedy thing where it’s like you have to have kids to be able to relate. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to have a joke here or there about being a daddy; I like to be somewhat autobiographical onstage so they know who the guy behind the microphone is, but I don’t like to go, “Here we go with an hour of kid jokes.” And also I don’t want my kids feeling like I’m following them around with a notebook; I want them to feel like this is our world, this is our life. When we’re together, they can have trust in the fact that my job isn’t to exploit them. I want them to be able to do something silly or goofy and not have it end up on the stage.
W: Do you have any aspirations to focus more on TV or movies one day, or are you happy just doing the stand-up thing?
BR: I was going to say both but I don’t know if that answer makes sense. I like being a stand-up, and if I never really do anything beyond this, that’ll be OK. I like doing this. But that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t like to try some other creative endeavors. Say a television show, for example – the only way I’d really be interested if it’s about how I think as a comedian. I’m not interested in being someone else’s vision, where they hand you a script and go, “Here’s your funny lines, go out there and do ‘em.” I like rolling my sleeves up and coming up with some funny stuff. That’s what I like to do, and if I could do that with TV cameras around, that’d be great.