Can't hack it

If you analyze Brian Regan’s act purely by subject matter, it’s straight-up Evening at the Improv hackery. Reading the newspaper, TV anchormen, irrelevant Spanish lessons, and other minutia get minutes of stage time, and a setup from his latest DVD, 2008’s The Epitome of Hyperbole, is literally, “Men and women are different, man …” But when he actually launches into the bit itself it’s almost always an absurd tangent 100 generic-brand Seinfelds on 100 typewriters couldn’t come up with in a century’s worth of key-slapping.

For a married comedian with children, you don’t do very many jokes about your family.

Well, I don’t know them that well. No, I’m joking. I do that on purpose, man. I want people in my audience to be able to relate to what I’m talking about, and I don’t want somebody who’s not married to hear me do 30 minutes of married jokes, and I don’t want people who don’t have kids to hear me doing 30 minutes of kid jokes. I’ll do a joke or two about being married, I’ll do maybe one or two jokes about my little boy, maybe one or two jokes about my little girl, and then I move on from there.

Do you ever imitate your kids? Some of your jokes come from a childish perspective.

I don’t want my actual kids to think that I’m following them around with a notebook: “Hey, do something funny, ’cause Daddy needs five minutes.” … But there are times in my act when I’ll hit a childlike kind of attitude because, in a way, it’s fun to never grow up, you know, even though we have to. We have to live in a world where you have to pay mortgages and worry about your cholesterol level, but it’s also fun to eat a Pop-Tart and look at balloons. I wouldn’t want to lose that altogether.

Now that you’re filling theaters, do you ever have trouble relating to your audience?

There is a fear of becoming so successful that you no longer have your feet in reality. What kind of audience is going to relate to jokes about Learjets? Not that I’m on them, but there is something to be said for trying to be careful to still be a regular person. I remember years ago noticing opening acts did jokes about taking Greyhound buses, and middle acts did jokes about their Ford Fiestas, and headliners did jokes about airline travel. I guess the more you graduate in comedy, the better your travel is, but you have to be careful not to graduate above where your audience is coming from. You still want to live a normal life and be able to relate to people.

There seems to be a tendency to equate relating to people with dumbing things down, but even the title Epitome of Hyperbole isn’t exactly Blue Collar Comedy material.

I hope that if somebody’s really paying attention, if somebody watches me for an hour, they might walk out and go, “That guy’s not as dumb as he says he is.” The overall gist is about feeling dumber than I really am. I’m no Stephen Hawking but I’ve read a book here and there. … I think some people kind of half listen to it and think I’m just prancing around up there … I think there’s more to it than that.

Do you think taking the dumb guy’s perspective might make you more popular than a lot of the comedians whose acts seem based on being smarter than the average person?

I try not to overanalyze it, but there’s different ways of approaching comedy. Some people like to take an audience and say, “Hey, we’re all smart, and out there, outside of this building, everybody’s stupid. Let’s make fun of everything out there. I prefer to say, “Hey, we’re kind of goofy in here, too.” •

Brian Regan
7:30pm Thu, Aug 19
The Majestic Theatre
226 E. Houston
(210) 226-3333

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