Stand-up comedy can certainly be a cutthroat business. Despite the fact that everyone loves to laugh, humor is highly subjective. What splits one person’s sides may offend the other. More than one comic has watched a show (or a career) go down in flames due to their jokes not landing or some public image fiasco.
That makes a comedian being able to succeed at a decades-long career, while generally steering away from explicit humor to boot, an impressive feat. That is exactly what Brian Regan has been able to manage, however.
Regan started cutting his teeth on stand-up comedy when he was in college in the 1970s.
“I used to emcee college activities and tried to be funny while hosting those activities,” Regan said. “That got me thinking I could do comedy for a living. I’ve been at it for several centuries.” In 1980, he dropped out of college and decided to make a go at doing comedy for a living, something that has turned out very well for him.
Like any comic, even a great like Regan has had ups and downs in his career. One of his most memorable experiences?
“Being able to do the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. I did that only once, right before he retired. It was amazing. Then, I would have to say being able to do 28 Lettermans was pretty cool.”
Though he’s had a number of bad experiences, the one that comes foremost to mind was almost like something out of a cartoon.
“Through an open window near the stage, I heard a cricket. I literally heard a cricket. Not making that up.”
Regan cites a number of great comics that influenced him, including: George Carlin, Johnny Carson, Jonathon Winters, and Steve Martin. However, his biggest influence comes from his own life.
“Comedy comes from life,” he said. “I enjoy making fun of boorish behavior, but I also like to be just plain goofy.”
As for his creative process, “I just think of things. I don’t know how that works. Once I’ve thought of something, then I can sit down and bang out a beginning, middle, and end, then I will throw that onstage and see what happens.”
It has been brought up that one of Brian Regan’s stables is being able to maintain a successful comedic career and film several hilarious stand-up specials while never resorting to what would be called “blue” humor or excessive profanity. Even for those of us who are hardly prudes, a comedian being able to regularly achieve belly laughs without getting filthy in a comedy business that is full of filthy humor is a breath of fresh air.
In regard to that, Regan said, “Somebody can take a color picture of a mountain, and somebody else can take a black and white picture of a mountain. Both those pictures can be beautiful and ‘real.’ That’s how I feel about doing clean comedy as opposed to ‘blue’ humor.”
The upcoming show at the Fargo Theatre on June 24th is not Regan’s first outing to Fargo.
“I have been in Fargo before. It’s a very cool city, and when I say ‘cool’ I mean in both ways,” he said.
This show is not part of a tour promoting a particular album, but a tour that never seemingly ends.
“My tour never stops. I’ve been on tour basically for many, many years. My shows are never to promo anything in particular. If anything, the other stuff: specials, podcasts, etc. are to promo the tour.”
Given that I’ve written about Fargo’s burgeoning comedy scene in the past, I couldn’t let Regan go without asking him what advice he had for other aspiring comics. His words of advice were equal parts profound and unique, to say the least.
“Wear a silly hat! My advice is always this-don’t try to figure out what will make an audience laugh, try to figure out what will make YOU laugh. AND wear a silly hat.”
IF YOU GO:
Sunday, June 24, 7 p.m.
Fargo Theatre, 314 N Broadway, Fargo
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