Brian Regan: Velvet Chairs and Cuddling.


Brian Regan - Live Color 1 - Photo Credit FriedmanBergmanBrian “Fucking” Regan! OK, that’s not a word you would normally associate with Brian who leans into performing a brand of comedy that is for everyone. But goddamn, Regan is the king, or one of the kings, if not a superhuman comic. Over three decades grinding out shitty clubs, bigger shitty clubs and graduating to theatres where he has honed his craft to a brilliant hue. Catch Regan at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz on 11/30 Tix here:


SUSC: After you were in Florida grinding every night. When you went on the road did you notice a difference between East coast and West coast shows?

Regan: It took a while before I played on the west coast, I was limited geographically. I literally bought Greyhound bus passes where you could anywhere you want for 30 days. It wasn’t until after I moved to New York in ’86 that I began branching out and playing west coast states. 

When you did get to the Bay Area in the mid-80s did you notice a difference? Or do people just like to laugh in general?

People do like to laugh in general but there’s always a difference. That’s there is a Santa Cruz and a San Francisco and a Boston. So we can have different cultures. It’s interesting doing comedy in different parts of the country. I always wonder, “Is this the place where they’re going to find me out?”


First time on the West Coast was in San Francisco in a little club called Cobb’s down in the Fisherman’s Wharf.

The old Cobb’s.

Yeah, it sat less than 200 people and it was a cozy room. People would listen there. I always use the analogy, “If the audience is willing to build half the bridge, then they’re the best audiences.” If you can do part of joke and they go, “We get it. We can meet you halfway and build the rest of the bridge.” That’s a smart audience.

I opened up the questions to the hive mind. One of the best I got was from Tony Camin. He said, “when you used to close out the old Cobb’s at the end of a weekend, you would tell one dirty joke.” Care to tell it?

HAHA, Tony! Tony’s the best. I didn’t do it a lot, but when I first started I had a routine where at the end of my school routine. It was about diagraming sentences. It’s hard to do the bit over the phone because it’s a long one. But there was a kid from New York City who sat next to me in school and the teacher asked if there was anyone that had a sentence they wanted to diagram for the class. This new kid from New York says, “Yeah, go fuck yourself.” The teacher got all flustered and didn’t know what to do, so she said, “OK, can you come up here and diagram that for the class.” Which was a bad move because he knew how. Then the rest of it is him diagraming the joke. It was the only dirty joke I had. It was weird to work clean for 95% of my act and end with that. It confused people.

It was like you took off your mask in the last 5 minutes and showed everybody who you really are.

In ’86 was Holy City Zoo going?

I had heard of it but never played it. Let me think of places around there where I played. I played Tommy T’s, you heard of that?

Sure. In Pleasanton.

Did you do Rooster T. Feathers?

No. I was supposed to work there one time and something happened. Don’t remember, it was years ago.

I did the Improv in San Francico, which doesn’t exist anymore either. And I did that before Cobb’s. I did the Improv before Cobb’s and I did both locations of Cobb’s. Usually when I play San Francisco it’s at larger venues now.

I know last time you played Mountain Winery you stopped in afterwards at Rooster T. Feathers just to hang out and watch. Do you feel at home in comedy clubs around the country, even if you’re not performing, just to hang out? A home away from home?

That’s a great way to put it. I miss the camaraderie f comedy clubs, as much as I love the theatres. What’s weird at a theatre is you say good night and the audience goes and walks out one door and you walk out another door. Aren’t we supposed to cuddle when we’re done? That’s why I love comedy clubs because after a show there’s an atmosphere. People chill and hang out. I like to hang out with other comedians, so I will occasionally stop in when I’m out on the road.

I read that when it was after you opened for Seinfeld in a theatre, that your eyes were opened in the difference between clubs and theatres. Do you see yourself maybe doing smaller shows in clubs again?

I did comedy clubs a few years ago in the summertime just to experience it. I didn’t do a lot of them, I did like 5 or 6 comedy clubs. It was sorta like, I enjoyed them in one way, but in other way I didn’t. I love the complete focus you get from a theatre and when you go back to a comedy club, its people eating nachos and there’s a blender going off in the background and the people over here, they came from New York and it’s Jack’s birthday. It’s a different vibe, I enjoy it, but I don’t enjoy it as much as everyone sitting in velvet chairs and paying one hundred percent attention.

I read that you naturally did act-outs. But did you ever watch videos of yourself to refine your movements onstage?

I never did that. I like to audio tape all my shows. When I work on my act it’s all about the words and how they all go together. In terms of the act-out I don’t really think about it. I just do whatever makes sense for the scene. I don’t even realize how animated I am until a TV appearance. If I do a bit on Fallon or I do a special, that’s usually the first time that I’m seeing it. And then its too late to fix it, because its out there! I don’t work on the visuals.

Is that true with your show Loudermilk? Do you watch the episodes?

I just watched Episode One of Season Two which was just on, but I wasn’t on it. Episode Two which is on tonight they feature me prominently. I would have watched it anyway, but they want me to do a Tweet-along! I’ve never done a Tweet-along. I think back to when I first started my career and thinking what if somebody said, “If work hard enough in comedy one day you’ll be able to do a Tweet-along!” It’ll be weird because it will be the first time I’m seeing it.

You were adamant that you were interested in acting because your main focus was stand-up comedy, but here you on a show directed by the esteemed Farley brothers. Personally I had never even heard of the AT&T Audience Network it’s on until I heard about Loudermilk. My question is how is as a stand-up comic who never had a boss telling you what to say, how to move or being edited in anyway, to being under the direction of the Farrelly brothers.

I love the autonomy of being a stand-up comedian and all the choices that come with that. Besides the amount of time I get to perform, it’s all up to me and I get to do whatever I want to do. Acting is a whole other animal. I’m thrilled that I get to do it because it’s a big deal for me. You only get this one life might as well take on some challenges. I like the team aspect of acting. It’s real interesting to see how a TV show is made. You have a director, on-set assistant directors, so may people and all the actors of course. Ron Livingston is great. Even down to the catering everyone is doing their function. Like everyone else I have a small piece of the pie and I try to make it as good as I can make it. I do have a boss and it’s the director. It’s either Peter of Bobby Farrelly directing different episodes in Season Two. Both of them are great. Both of them are very cool about letting me branch out and do what I want to do, but, if it goes beyond what’s going to help the scene they have to reign me in. And I don’t mind because I’m serving somebody else’s creative vision. I like the difference and I like being able to do both.

And you get the camaraderie of being part of team pulling together to make a show.

Yes. Obviously I would want more people to be aware of the show. But I like the fact there are no egos on the show. It’s not a hit! People who see it love it. We’re just trying to get some traction, Like you said it’s on an obscure channel on direct TV, so when we show up we’re just all friends. It’s not a top hit sitcom where people are making a million dollars an episode. Attitudes and egos aren’t getting in the way and it’s just a cool little show that I’m glad to be a part of.

Well, when it becomes successful it’ll be interesting to see how you ruin the whole thing!

(Laughter) Yes, I’ll be the one to ruin it!




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