March 13, 2008

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Brian Regan cleans up
‘Stupid funny’ at the Cap Center
By Brian Early bearly@hippopress.com

Comedian Brian Regan plays the Capitol Center for the Arts this Thursday, March 13. The national touring funnyman premiered in his first hour-long special on Comedy Central last spring and has another one scheduled for later this year. His CD, Brian Regan Live, was released in 1997 and has sold more than 100,000 discs.

For people who have watched you in the past couple of years, how much new material will you have?
It depends how long ago [was] the last time you saw me. If you saw me last night, it would be about 99 percent the same. I try to constantly … write new material, but the main part of my act is from the past two or three years, though more than half will be new to them. One of my favorite compliments at a show is when people say that they saw you last year and most of the stuff they hadn’t heard before. Then again there are some that say, “Why didn’t you do that bit?”

Do you enjoy writing new material? What’s your writing process?
I really enjoy it. There was a time in my career that I got lazy with it and didn’t write much new stuff. I stopped that about 10 years ago. I really enjoy writing. I don’t force myself to sit down and write because nothing will come out. I just go through my day and something will tap me on my shoulder and say, “Hey, can I be a joke?”

Your comedy is known for its clean language. Is it challenging not to swear?
Not for me. That’s how I think and work. When I first started, I didn’t [want] to be a dirty comedian, but I had some dirty jokes. When I decided to go clean, I had to let some funny jokes go. I had this joke about diagramming sentences that used the F word that I used to end my routine. When I first did a Showtime special, my friend said “You have to use it.” But it would have been pretty weird to do a clean show [and] then end with swearing. The joke said the F word seven or eight times.

Was it your goal to become a non-swearer to differentiate yourself from other comedians?
…No. I decided against doing it, and I made a pretty good decision. I never set out to have kids come to [my] show. I always worked in comedy clubs where you had to be 21…. I released a CD in 1997; I had no clue that I had a bunch of fans that were young. When I started doing my show in theaters, a venue more acceptable to children, it was weird that they came, and it’s still weird. I want to guard against my show from becoming a kiddie show. It’s sort of a weird thing though — I’m proud that parents feel that they can bring kids. It’s clean from A to Z, but it’s not necessarily kid-oriented from A to Z. Even the clean thing wasn’t to be different from other comedians; that’s how I think as a comedian anyways. My first time in a comedy club, it was 90 percent clean. … But it had this byproduct. It’s amazing to me how many people out there like clean comedy, and I had an added following because if it. I never like to hang my hat on my comedy being clean. I like to think of it as quirky and different.

I did this show once, and when I pulled up to the venue in my rental car, the sign said, “Brian Regan, Good Clean Fun.” I wouldn’t go to see me. I went in and told the guys, “I know you guys mean well, but it’s like putting a G rating on a movie and nobody’s going to watch it because of it.” They say no problem. I … do the show, and when I leave, I drive around to the front to see what they changed it to. “Brian Regan: Stupid Funny.” I went back in and the Latino guy there said, “That’s a compliment, man. That’s like stupid funny. That’s like big-time funny.

How would you describe your comedy?
Now I describe it as good, clean stupid funny.

What do you enjoy about making people laugh?
It’s truthful. Most interpersonal communication can be fake. But … when you get a room going, you’re communicating. It’s like an electrical current. It’s just very, very gratifying, especially since a lot of comedy is described as, “I never looked at it that way before.” You’re shining a different light on something. It’s fun to point out things that they all missed but instantly agree with.

—Brian Early.