In Advance of Next Week's Show at the Masonic, Comedian Brian Regan Talks About His Lengthy Career


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  • Friedman Bergman
Comedian Brian Regan has had a busy year. He can currently be seen in season 2 of the hit series Loudermilk that’s directed by Peter Farrelly, and he just released the comedy series Stand Up and Away! with Brian Regan, a show that Jerry Seinfeld executive produced. Nunchucks and Flamethrowers, the first of two Netflix specials, is also currently streaming.

In this recent phone interview from his Las Vegas home, Regan speaks about his career and explains why turning 61 was tougher than turning 60. He performs at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 12, at Masonic Cleveland.

You dropped out of school to pursue a career in comedy back in 1980. Did you think at the time that you’d still be going strong all these years later?
I had no idea. I really had no idea. I just knew when I was young that I had this passion to be a standup comedian. I thought it would be an interesting thing to do with my life. I had this dream that if I could make $100 a night doing comedy that I would have the world by the tail. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m still trying.

Was it a conscious decision to avoid using obscenities in your act?
Yes and no. When I first started, I was mostly clean anyway. I would think of weird, bizarre and quirky stuff. I had some jokes with four-letter words in them. I touched on some innuendo and that type of thing, but it was such a small percentage of my act. I stopped doing it not because I wanted to be Johnny Wholesome. I just wanted to be 100 percent something. I thought I could be 100 percent clean. I never got 100 percent on anything in college. I went that route.

Do you ever swear in real life?
All the time.

Ray Romano complimented you and has said the level of difficulty of your routines is really high. Did you know he said that?
I know Ray, but I’m not familiar with that quote but I’m honored by it. It’s very flattering. I like a tip of the hat from anyone but especially from a comedian and especially from such as successful comedian as Ray. I’ve always been honored that comedians like what I do. It makes me feel like I’m on the right track. I want to feel like I’m doing quality stuff. I have a following. It’s not arena-level, but it’s all good.

There’s musician’s musicians and you are the comedian’s comedian.
I’ve always been very humbled by that. That means the world to me.

You just turned 60. What was that like?
I just turned 61.

Well, 60 seems like it would be the milestone. Was turning 61 more difficult?
I always say the ages with the one on them are harder than the ages with a zero on them. With the zero, you’re ready for it. You know it’s coming in a few years. Fr four or five years, you get ready for it. You think, “Here comes 40.” And then, it seems like three months later, you turn 41. How does that happen so fast? It was the same with 60. That wasn’t so bad, and then 61 quickly happened.

You’ve had a particularly busy year. What was it like to make the Netflix special, Nunchucks and Flamethrowers?
That was a lot of fun. I have been fortunate enough to do one-hour specials here or there. It’s a two special deal and I’ll film the next one during the holidays of next year.

What was it like to work with Jerry Seinfeld on the sketch comedy series you did for Netflix?
Tremendous. He is a brilliant person. He was kind enough to spearhead this effort to get a TV show, and that meant the world to me. He could have not been more perfect. He gave me creative control. He gave me his thoughts and opinions about things, but would say, “You decide what you want to do. You just use what I tell you as information.” There were a couple of places where I went in another direction, but that didn’t happen often.

What was it like to have coffee with him for his Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee special?
I was fortunate to do it twice. I was one of the first 10 to do it. He did another one with me a couple of years ago. When I did the first one, none of them were out yet, so I couldn’t get online to get a feel for it. I just knew the title.

How did you two first meet?
At a comedy club in Fort Lauderdale. The club where I started was called the Comic Strip. I was a dishwasher and busboy. They also let me go on stage. They would get professional comedians from out of town. He was one of them one, and I saw him perform years ago. I’m not sure if I even met him that time. I was just auditioning back then. The first time I remember meeting him, I was in New York performing at a comedy club called Catch a Rising Star. He was the big man on campus in the standup comedy world, but he liked my act, and he’s been a supporter of mine ever since.

You also have a recurring role on Loudermilk. What has that been like?
That has been tremendous for me. It gives me the opportunity to try the acting side of the equation. Peter Farrelly is the co-creator and director. It’s a comedy about substance abuse. We just got picked up for our third season. I play Mugsy. He is battling several demons in life. He’s a bad dad and trying to get a handle on that, and he’s trying to get a handle on his substance abuse. they gave me a lot to do in Season 3. I’m honored that they gave me a lot to do as an actor. I think you’ll be surprised. It’s some pretty serious stuff they have me do.

Ron Livingston is great in the title role.
He’s tremendous. I never got to do much acting before. He is so wonderful to watch and so incredible to learn from. Every take, he sounds real. Every single take, he sounds real. If he does a second take, he’ll do a different version of real. One time in three years, I saw him half-way through a line that didn’t sound like it was on the money. He immediately stopped and said, “Hey I want to do that again.”

It’s such a great time for TV. Do you watch a lot of TV?
I don’t. I’m not really a TV watcher. I don’t watch fiction. I watch sports and news and documentaries. I’ve never been big on fiction, whether it’s comedy or drama. I don’t watch sit-coms or all these dramas that are out there. I watch Loudermilk.

Do you aspire to do more acting?
Maybe. Hollywood is weird. You would’ve thought a handful of things I’ve done would’ve gotten me some phone calls. I did a Chris Rock movie about five years ago. I had a small part, but I was highlighted in the commercials and that sort of thing. I thought I would get some calls, but I didn’t. I do this Loudermilk thing and I’ve gotten some nice compliments about my acting but no phone calls. I can’t be bothered with how Hollywood works or does things because it doesn’t do things the way I would do things.

What’s the show in Cleveland going to be like?
This sounds boring, but it’s going to be behind me a microphone sharing my quirky brain with people. I do an hour of standup comedy.

Will it be new material or old material?
It depends on when you last saw me. If you literally saw me the night before, it’s going to be the same stuff. But if you saw me two years ago, I like to think 75 percent of it will be new.

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