If fierce logic is something you demand in a stand up, then put Brian Regan’s name at the top of the list. It’s not enough for Regan to make an audience laugh. He dares the crowd to question their own behavior. How many times while listening to his routines do you stop and silently nod, “He’s right!” Case in point: Why would anyone in their right mind want to work for an airline’s lost luggage department?
Regan will be at the Balboa Theatre this Valentine's Day Friday night for two shows. I confess to the comic that prior to our interview, the name Brian Regan had yet to cross my radar. Perhaps it was the “clean” stigma that kept me at arm's length. (Regan refuses to work blue.) Fifteen minutes into the three hours of Regan's concert videos that I watched and I didn't give a fuck about the absence of profanity. I was too busy wiping away tears of laughter to notice the difference.
Scott Marks: I ran your name through the Internet Movie Database and came up empty. Why no movies?
Brian Regan: My focus is standup. I like standup. I like doing it. I like the comedy. There are different people that get into entertainment for different reasons. Some people want to become an actor, some people want to become a star. I like doing standup comedy. To me this is the end result. [Movies are] not something that I go out of my way to pursue.
SM: You are known for keeping it clean on stage. Out of respect, I was going to refrain from working blue until I found out how old you are. WTF are you doing to stay so young looking? We’re practically the same age!
BR: Thanks, man. I don't know what the deal is. My parents are both still alive at 87 years old. I got a bunch of brothers and sisters, some older, still kicking. I just consider myself lucky. I've got some good genes that keep me going.
SM: You seem like a really nice guy, so I’m going to get my standard mean question for comics out of the way right off the bat. There’s no chance a guy like you is going to answer this, but here goes: name a comedian who has never once made you laugh.
BR (laughing): Yeah…well. I'll answer it diplomatically. Comedy is very subjective, and there are comedians out there that other comedians think are great that for whatever reason reason just don't seem to work for me. It's a very bizarre thing, this comedy. What makes some people laugh and what fails to make other people laugh is like a lifelong quest trying to figure out. I couldn't throw anybody else under the bus, man. I'd like to think that they would keep from doing it to me, so I'll keep from doing it to them.
SM: Jay Leno is someone who has never made me laugh. And the only reason I bring up his name is you’ve made numerous appearances on Late Night With David Letterman, but unless Wikipedia is wrong — and that never happens — I can’t find any mention of you appearing opposite Jay on The Tonight Show.
BR: I did The Tonight Show when Johnny Carson was the host. (I'm dating myself.) Johnny Carson had one year left before he was done. You've heard of the expression a dream come true? I don't throw around the term that much, but in this case it was definitely one of those deals. And then I was lucky enough to get on the Letterman track. I just kind of became a Letterman comedian and stayed in that camp.
SM: This isn’t an example of Dave getting custody of you in the divorce?
BR (laughing): Yeah. I was won in the custody battle.
SM: Your comedy falls into the category of observational humor, so here’s a question about something I observed: What is it with stand up comics and your inability to tuck in a shirt-tail?
BR (laughing): I’m fat!
SM: You think an untucked shirt cover up a gut? Take it from one who knows — it doesn't!
BR: It’s my New Year’s resolution this year to get down to 185 pounds. I haven’t seen that in over 20 years. I think it’s a self-conscious thing to have my shirt-tail out. It’s weird when I do Letterman and they want me to tuck my shirt in when I'm wearing a sport jacket. (Laughing.) People aren't going to be paying any attention to my jokes, there going to be looking right at my big fat belly.
SM: Button the coat.
BR: No, because I'm too physical and then I move around and the thing buttons up…there are reasons behind all these important maneuvers.
SM: As a comedian, what have you done to change the world?
BR: There is something I’d like to pat myself on the back about. And I apologize if it feels creepy to hear me say this. I have this routine about emergency rooms and how I marvel at the fact that they don't have valet parking. They spend millions and millions of dollars on what happens on the other side of the front door, but not one ounce of thought goes into how you're actually going to get into the hospital. So I worked up this routine asking why they don't have valet parking at emergency rooms.
I was performing somewhere in the Midwest, and after the show this group of people came up to me and said they just wanted me to know that this guy here is in charge of eight or ten hospitals in the area, and they have put valet parking in at all of their hospitals because of your joke. That just blew my mind. I just wanted to get a laugh out of it. It's the only thing in life that I've ever done that's made a difference, but I'll take it.