There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of comedian Brian Regan. And even if you know who he is, you wouldn’t exactly do a double-take if you passed him on the street.
There’s also a pretty decent chance he’ll sell out the Durham Performing Arts Center.
How can this be, you ask. The 54-year-old standup comedian, who resides quietly in Las Vegas with his wife and two kids, is finding lately that he’s selling out venues all over the country.
“I’m tickled,” he says. “There are a number of places that are good for me. New York is fun. San Francisco is fun. You know, I love coming back to the Raleigh-Durham area.”
He’s building his audience all the time, performing a clean, endearingly goofy, self-deprecating and keenly observational style of comedy that takes on the little absurdities of modern life. With boundless energy and a friendly demeanor, he explores everything from first-class-versus-coach class warfare at airports, to food labels on Fig Newtons.
Think of him as a hyper-animated Jerry Seinfeld minus the New York neuroses, and there you have it – a family-friendly everyman comic for the new millennium.
Regan’s appeared on “The Late Show with David Letterman” 25 times. He’s done two specials for Comedy Central and he’s released his own DVD and CD, and they’re doing well.
Pursuing comedy turned out to be a good call for the former accounting student from Miami who dropped out of Heidelberg College to spend the next three years humbly busing tables and cooking at the same comedy club where he honed his act at night.
“It was weird when I first went on the road, because I was so used to helping in the kitchen and stuff like that,” he says. “When the show was over, I saw the wait staff cleaning up – I would clean. And then I realized, ‘I’m just getting in these people’s way, you know?” He laughs at the memory.
See? He’s a nice guy. Genuinely. And it comes though on stage, even when he’s mocking that certain type of person we all know. But he rarely mocks specific people. He doesn’t take sides in politics. He doesn’t pick on people in the front row. That’s not his style.
But he’s funny – so funny that he’s earned the highest praise from a seemingly unlikely source.
Patton Oswalt, as profane and provocative a comedian as there is today, called Regan “the best stand-up working today. Period.”
Regan says he called Oswalt to thank him for “saying those incredibly generous words about me.” He says that when a comedian likes what you do, it’s the highest compliment.
Oswalt obviously gets it. He understands what the audience sees and why they’re laughing. Regan is good at what he does and he can relate to anybody.
“When I get onstage, I’m not trying to come off as, you know, better than anybody,” Regan says. I’m trying to be of the people, not above the people. It’s like, hey, we’re all in this together – this ‘life ride.’ I’m just here to point out some funny stuff about it.”