Veteran comic Brian Regan has performed stand-up comedy across the country for nearly 40 years, establishing a career with his down-to-earth humor.
Not only has he appeared 28 times on CBS’s “Late Night Show with David Letterman” and later with Jimmy Fallon, he also has a show on Netflix, “Stand Up and Away.”
Now, he’ll perform at the Uptown Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri, Friday, Sept. 6 at 8 p.m.
The Kansan interviewed Regan before his upcoming show at the Uptown Theatre.
The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Did you ever think you were funny but just weren’t there yet before you officially became a comedian?
When I was a kid, I had friends who thought I was funny and family members that thought I was funny, but I didn’t think about it as a career. It wasn’t until I was in college that I had that lightbulb go off over my head where I was like, “Hey, can I do this as a job?” It was very intriguing to me, it fueled me with passion, and I did everything it took to get it done.
How did your friends and family react when you decided to become a comedian?
Everybody was really supportive, my mom and dad had eight kids, so they were pushing us out of the nest. Whatever we wanted to do that made us happy, they were supportive of.
Your first appearance was on the Late-Night Show with David Letterman in 1995, so what was your expectation going into that show? How did you feel?
I was very nervous. When you do a big show like that, it’d be weird if you weren’t nervous. It was a big thing career wise — this was before the explosion of Netflix and that sort of thing, so there were fewer avenues to get your comedy on TV back then. So, it was very important to have a national presence. It was a big night; I was fortunate it went well, and they invited me back, and I ended up doing 28 over the years
Were there any times in your comedic career where you made a fool of yourself?
What’s weird about comedy is that you make a fool out of yourself when people aren’t laughing. In real life, you make a fool out of yourself when people are laughing at you. I have had bad shows; it was not fun being on stage, and everybody knows you are trying to be funny and nobody’s getting it, but like anything else in life, you have to push through it.
Comedian Ray Romano, praises you for your ability to write a lot of good material, so how do you do it?
That’s one of those elusive things. When I read a good book, I wonder how they came up with that. I just happen to be able to think deeply about funny things. Comedians sometimes have a funny way at looking at things — when you see it, you can apply a funny craft to it. Once I have the idea, I can put words to it and make it have a beginning, middle and end.
Because you are so popular around the country, you’re filling civic centers, arenas and now on a tv series. How did you make that transition between writing stand-up and writing sketches?
The sketches are fun for me because if someone really looks at the comedy that I do as a stand-up comedian, a lot of times they are situations — not all of my bits — but they are little plays that last about a minute. Instead of just using words, it’s fun to hire actors and to write a scene.
Where did you get the idea to develop a comedy series like “Stand Up and Away”?
I have a lot of material that I have done for a long time or older material that I haven’t done for a long time that fans of mine still enjoy. I realize there’s a lot people out there that have not seen that material. I thought, “What would be a way to package it in an interesting way,” and I thought instead of just doing a stand-up routine; I can combine it with new sketches in a way to showcase the older stuff in a fresh new way.
Now onto your upcoming show at the Uptown Theatre. Will this tour feature fan favorites like “Stupid in School,” or will you present all new material?
I like always moving away from older stuff. It will be a lot of stuff that will be on my next special. The stuff that has been on TV or been recorded, I try to move away from that. One of my biggest compliments is people coming up to me saying we saw you a couple years ago and the stuff you did today was new. I like to think it will be relatively fresh.
How do you hope to attract students to your show?
I do comedy that is hopefully for everybody, so I am fortunate that all ages seem to get into it. It doesn’t skew for older people; it doesn’t skew for younger people.