Get ready for a double dose of Brian Regan, whether you enjoy a headliner in a spacious theatre setting or the intimate atmosphere of a comedy club with table service.
Comic’s comic Regan will hit the stage at the San Jose Center for Performing Arts on August 23, and then will clobber at Cobb’s in SF on August 31 and September 1.
At Cobb’s, you might see him falling into old habits and washing dishes. Brian got his start performing after scheduled comics in a club where he worked the kitchen. In fact, his early routine was all about people staggering out of the club as he took the stage. But for the last decade-plus, Regan has attained theatre comedian status—and has continued to hold the admiration of his peers.
Marc Maron recently gushed about Brian during a “WTF” podcast and mentioned that Bill Hicks was also a fan. Brian takes it all in stride, knowing that if he can get a comedy club waitress to chuckle, he’s made it.
Corey Andrew: How is the summer treating you so far?
Brian Regan: Nice. I am doing a couple of fun things with the kids. I took them to Disney World.
Corey: Ah, Florida.
Brian: Yeah. I’ve done Disneyland with them many times, but they’d never been to Disney World, and all is good.
Corey: Are they of the age where they enjoy meeting the characters, or are they just about the rides?
Brian: They still like meeting the characters. My boy is 13, and my girl is 8. They’re both old enough to know there might be actual human beings behind the furry costumes, but they still are childlike and get into it. You know what I mean? It’s cool. My son wants to be a boy forever, and I’m in no hurry to grow him up.
Corey: Cool. You come from a pretty big family and are from Florida, so did you go to Disney World as a kid?
Brian: Yeah. In fact, I have very fond memories of going to Disney World. I wanted to share that experience with my kids. Now that we live on the West Coast, we’ve done Disneyland many times. It’s fun to show them my stompin’ grounds.
Corey: How did your energy hold up this time?
Brian: Not bad. I look around at these people being pushed around in wheelchairs, and now I’m at an age where I’m kind of envious. I enjoy the fact that my kids are having a blast. Also, we’re not really early risers. We’re cool with getting up and having a late breakfast and heading over at noon. We’re not the kind of people, ‘Get up kids! It’s 4 in the morning! We’re gonna be the first people in front of everybody!’
Corey: That’s why I love folks like you, because that is me. I’m the one dragging everyone out of bed.
Brian: Oh, you’re trying to be there first.
Corey: Yeah. My Mom, my sister and niece came out a couple months ago to L.A., and I was dragging them out of bed. ‘How much makeup do you need for Mickey?’ My Mom’s painting it on like she’s going to dinner and a show. I’m the guy that has to be there at 7:58 when they open at 8 a.m.
Brian: You’re gettin’ the worm. The early bird gets the worm.
Corey: That’s right, I got the worm.
Brian: We get the worm leftovers.
Corey: When a reporter asks about your act bring clean, how tempted are you to answer in a string of curses?
Brian: (laughs) I was thinking about this the other day. Not that question in particular, but all questions. I always double back to an interview with Jeff Goldblum. They asked him what is it like to answer the same questions over and over again. He said, ‘It’s part of the deal, and I just try to put on my acting cap. When I hear the question, the person asking the question doesn’t know I hear that all the time. So I try to feel like I’m hearing it for the first time and answer as freshly and honestly as I can.’ I take the sage advice of Jeff Goldblum and try to pretend like I never heard the question before.
Corey: I’ve watched you for about 15 years now. The ‘clean’ thing seems to be an easy angle for people to write about, especially when a lot of comics go to the extreme, but it is difficult to pinpoint how people are funny. You’re clever and have a unique spin on everyday topics, but how do you describe that and have it be entertaining in an article? What’s the angle? Brian’s clever?
Brian: I appreciate your thoughtfulness on it. It is challenging to figure out what to write about, and I wouldn’t even know how. Comedy’s a weird, bizarre, ethereal thing. How do you capture it? It is what it is. What’s that old saying? I’ve heard it applied to comedy. ‘Writing about comedy is like dancing about architecture.’
Corey: (laughs) Exactly.
Brian: It can’t be done.
Corey: Trying to explain how someone is funny seems pointless. I’ve been interviewing comedians for a long time, and I prefer the Q&A format because I find the conversation itself to be fascinating, typically.
Brian: I agree. Going back to the clean thing, what’s interesting to me sometimes is I’ll go through an interview, and it won’t come up. ‘OK, the writer avoided it.’ Not that they need to; if they want to ask, they’re welcome to. If they do ask other questions, that’s interesting for me. But whoever writes headlines isn’t always the person who writes the article. You go to the town, and it says, ‘Super-Clean Comic Comes to Town.’ ‘I wasn’t asked one question about that, man! Why is that the headline?’ If I let it bother me, I would not be able to sleep at night. I just have to accept it.
Corey: Have you thought about how you will deal with your kids if they start cursing?
Brian: Gosh, they haven’t been tempted. My son is 13 and I’ve never heard him say anything. I don’t know if he does with his friends or not. I don’t want to pry. Everyone is entitled to have a little private side, you know what I mean? If I heard something, and I knew it wasn’t supposed to be around me, I’d probably let it slide.
Corey: I’m sure this happens to a lot of people. It usually happens to me at the movies. When someone says something like, ‘Enjoy the film,’ I slip and say, ‘You, too,’ even though the guy tearing the tickets isn’t going to the movie. I always think of your routine, ‘You, too!’
Brian: Yeah, that’s a bit that goes back a ways. I have a funny story. I was on an elevator here in Las Vegas. A guy on the elevator recognizes me and says, ‘You’re the comedian, right?’ way too loud. Other people are looking. I always try to be as low-key as possible. I always try to bring my voice down, ‘Yeah, yeah.’ He goes, ‘Yeah, I know you! You’re the guy who goes, “And you! And you!”’ which is not the bit. It’s, ‘You, too.’ I’m not gonna call him on it. OK. The elevator door opens, and we both walk out through this hotel lobby/casino thing. He thinks it will be funny to yell to me what he thinks is my bit: ‘And you! And you! And you!’ I am the only guy who knows what he’s talking about I don’t know what he’s talking about.
Corey: (laughs) Right. Gotta make you smile. Do you have those déjà vu moments where you experience something you’ve talked about onstage?
Brian: Oh, yeah. A couple years ago, I was at an airline ticket counter, and the woman gave me my ticket and said, ‘Have a nice flight,’ and I said, ‘You, too.’ And, then I said, ‘Oh, wow, that was stupid.’ She said, ‘Don’t worry about it. People say that all the time.’ I’m thinking, ‘You have no idea. If anybody should not be making this mistake, I’m the guy!’ (laughs).
Corey: Your fans think you’re great, but when it’s your contemporaries praising you, what’s that like for you?
Brian: That’s the highest form of flattery. When your peers like what you do, gosh, there’s nothing better. The only higher praise than having a comedian like what you do is having a comedy club waitress laugh. They’ve heard everything. I remember being on a stage one time, and a waitress was coming up to the front table, laughing at one of my bits while she was putting drinks down. I almost wanted to stop the show. I felt like I’d just been knighted.
Visit BrianRegan.com for more information.
Corey Andrew has been interviewing comedians and writing about comedy for the last decade and a half. In 2011, he published the book, “Laugh Lines: Conversations with Comedians.” Corey was a writer and performer with Midwest sketch troupe, The NonProphets, before moving to the Bay Area with his family a few years ago. If you have ideas for future columns about comedy, you can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him at twitter.com/coreywrites.