Just because Brian Regan doesn’t disperse F-bombs or discuss his sex life onstage doesn’t mean the standup comedian has walked the straight and narrow all his life—it just means he’s consciously chosen not to share the R-rated portion of his existence with those he’s trying to make laugh.
“I have a dirty mind,” the longtime performer admitted during a recent telephone interview. “In fact, the things I’m capable of thinking and saying would astonish my fans. But comedically, it’s like being a painter. One might like to use oils, another favors acrylics. As a comedian, I like to work with clean concepts. But if I stub my toe in the middle of the night, you’re going to hear things that aren’t on my show.”
However Regan chooses to get his audiences in the game, it must be working. He spends much of each year touring to sold-out crowds, and recently wrapped his 25th appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, where he riffed on everything from dealing with hotels that seemed to have lost his reservation (“Check Zippety-Doo-Dah. Doo-dah’s the last name”), to pondering why a business named itself Feedler Roofing Company (“How did he not think of Feedler on the Roof?”), and wondering why Boeing was running commercials for selling its jets (“Honey, as soon as I finish my meatball sub, I’m gonna go get one”).
Regan says his joke-finding process is one that comes about naturally. He’ll see, read or experience something that feels like it might be funny, and, after pondering it a bit, will go from there.
“I don’t look for it,” he says. “I live my life. Something will happen, then when I think of it, I already have it and know why it’s funny. After that, I’ll slap together a rough version and hit the stage with it. Some of the best writing, I think, takes place on the stage. I listen to the tapes—I tape every show—then trim the fat.”
Even after years of performing his observational comedy to great acclaim, Regan says there are times he still can’t believe he’s making a living making people laugh.
In the early days, when he was seating people, clearing tables and taking out the trash at a comedy club in Fort Lauderdale—where they occasionally let him try out his material for five- and 10-minute periods at a time—he was thrilled just to be getting a paycheck from an establishment that catered to those looking for a fun, and funny, night out on the town.
A few years later, when he first starting getting booked for paying gigs and hit the road, Regan says it felt like he still needed to keep bussing tables to earn his keep. He eventually got over that, but says he’s never taken his job for granted.
When Regan makes a stop in Bellingham Sun., Oct. 14, at the Mount Baker Theatre, it’ll be his fourth performance at the venue since 2007. Those who’ve seen him before will know what to expect, but he says the uninitiated should be aware his show’s more of a theatrical experience than other standup performances they might have attended in the past.
“My stuff is in a longer form” Regan says. “They’re vignettes—like plays, almost. It’s hard to encapsulate. The short story is sometimes I feel like a goofball 23 hours a day, and in the remaining time, I get to get onstage and talk about it. It’s me talking about the world as I see it.”
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