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Good, Clean Fun(ny): Brian Regan stands up and waxes ordinary


Brian Regan is a funny guy and that's a good thing for a comedian.

The stand-up, who has been performing since about 1984, sells out theaters and rooms across the country and has circled the late-night TV talk show circuit several times over.

Prior to the '90s, stand-up comedy mainly made its way into American homes in three- or four-minute segments via The Tonight Show or The Late Show with David Letterman. With the advent of Comedy Central and Comedy Central Presents, comics were given an hour to deliver the goods. By the time Regan's first special, "Brian Regan's Standing Up," aired on Comedy Central in 2007, he had been performing for nearly 20 years. With that performance, Regan's rubber-faced observations of the prosaic earned him a much larger and quite dedicated following.

From his home in Las Vegas, during a rare respite from the road, Regan talked about always being on the road. Sure, his stop in Boise on Thursday, June 24, at the Morrison Center (and one on Friday, July 16, at the Sun Valley Pavilion) could be considered part of a big tour but one "that started in 1987," Regan said.

"I've learned over the years that musicians do it a little differently than comedians. A band might go out for two or three months. A comedian goes out on tour and it's like Gilligan's Island: It's a three-hour tour and you never go back. You're stuck on the island!"

Regan travels island America so much, that when he is home, he likes to leave work behind--even though he resides in a prime place for a working, well-known comedian.

"I do not perform at home. I like to have a home life when I'm here. I just put on the husband and daddy hat, which is weird because there's no better place to perform," Regan said, laughing. "There's like 1,000 showrooms here. Why don't I live somewhere else and work here?"

Part of what makes Regan such an easy act to follow is that his "observational humor" is squeaky clean, his timing is spot-on and his material is as universal and relatable to middle-class Americans as a Happy Meal. He never drops an f-bomb but it's hardly noticeable. And when so many of his contemporaries are busting out blue jokes, Regan could be thought rather brave in his avoidance of profanity, especially considering he touches on well-covered ground. He riffs on everything from Pop-Tarts (a ludicrously popular bit) to UPS drivers to doctors' visits to airports. His material is kind of Stand-Up Comedy 101. What comic hasn't done a "when I was stopped at airport security" joke? But what Regan does so well is take that overdone subject matter and find a way to make it new. And hilarious.

When Regan is written about, the following statement by comedian/actor Patton Oswalt (Ratatouille, Big Fan, United States of Tara) is often quoted: "Brian Regan's comedy stuns me. It stuns me because he can start down the road with a premise that every comedian knows has not one scrap of flesh left on its bones, and find a new angle of attack that yields prime cuts of comedic meat."

Because Regan performs what is considered observational humor, he's not likely to run out of fodder. But there may come a day when he wants to stay a little closer to home. By not performing in Vegas now, he has left himself an opening. By the time he's tired of planes, trains and automobiles, Regan can retire from touring and do a Celine Dion: become the artist-in-residence at a local casino. He's not ready to lay those cards on the table just yet, though.

"It's like [politicians] running for president. They always have to say they aren't thinking about that, so, um, it's not something I am thinking about doing at all in the short term," Regan said. "Maybe down the road when, like you say, I burn out on traveling, I might want to do something like that.

"I see the other comedians that do that. Rita Rudner's been very successful out here," he added. "Carrot Top has taken residence at the Luxor Hotel. It might be something that I would do eventually."

For now, however, the road continues to call. Regan's schedule reads like a retired couple's "we are going to live in our motorhome and visit every corner of America" agenda--California, Connecticut, Indiana, Texas, New York, Florida, Oregon, etc.--and he recently made his 20th appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman. He's so busy that he actually sets aside one day a week specifically for interviews. Regan said that back when he was doing week-long shows in clubs, it was easy to answer the one question he usually gets from journalists: "Have you ever been to [insert city here]?" Now, it's a little tougher.

"When you do [one-night only] shows in theaters, you forget where you've been," Regan said. "I was doing a radio interview for some town and they said, 'Have you ever been here before?' I said, 'No, I'm looking forward to coming. I'm so excited. I can't wait to get there.' I hung up and had a queasy feeling. I looked at my calendar and saw that I'd been there two years before. I kept wondering what those listeners thought, 'Wow, we must have made a big impression on [Regan].'"

But not to worry, Boise. Regan promises he's genuinely excited to come back here.