John Lamb, Published November 12 2013
A little help from his friends: Brian Regan a favorite among nation’s top comedians
What: Brian Regan
When: 7:30 p.m., Thursday
Where: Fargo Civic Center, 207 4th St. N.
Info: Tickets are $39.75. (800) 745-3000. www.ticketmaster.com
FARGO - Brian Regan has some friends in high places. Actually, they’re more like fans in high places.
Although the stand-up comic doesn’t have his own sitcom, never starred in a movie or even a popular commercial and hasn’t had a Comedy Central special in years, Regan stays in the spotlight thanks to a steady touring schedule and props from three of the best comedy promoters: David Letterman, Jerry Seinfeld and Marc Maron.
Regan brings his stand-up act back to Fargo for a Thursday night show at the Civic Center.
The show is part of his regular weekend routine, touring Thursdays through Sundays, playing about 100 dates a year, performing his observational brand of “clean comedy.”
One morning in late October, the 56-year-old comic was going through another routine, making a pot of coffee in his Las Vegas home and talking about his 33-year career. At the time, he was looking forward to taping his 26th appearance on “Late Show with David Letterman.” For his 25th appearance, Letterman made a special notice.
“That’s a big thing for him. He’s not overly demonstrative,” Regan said. “I was honored. I’m honored any time I get to do the show and the fact that he highlighted the moment meant a lot to me. It’s a high honor for comedians to do it once. The fact that I’ve been fortunate enough to get my foot in the door there and Dave seems to like what I do, it makes you feel like you’re getting your national booster shot.”
Despite his frequent visits and the fact that he’s on the show about every nine months, Regan said he still can’t relax.
“After all of these spots on there, I still don’t think I’ve gotten to the point where I just purely enjoy it. I mean, you’re in 100 percent red alert focus mode,” he said. “You’re so darned focused when you walk out there. It’s not as easy as people may think to walk out there and make it look like you’re not looking for a blue dot.”
It may be work for Regan, but he makes the work look effortless, said fellow comic Marc Maron.
“I swear to God, any comic that I (ask), ‘Who’s the funniest guy?’ ‘Brian Regan’s the funniest guy,’ ” Maron said when he interviewed Regan for his popular “WTF” podcast in 2012. “It’s like a given. It’s a given. There’s Brian Regan, and there’s other people.”
Another comic who took note of Regan’s precise act was Jerry Seinfeld, who tapped Regan to be one of his first guests on the web series, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”
The show is just as advertised. Seinfeld and a different comic each week drive around in a notable car, in this case a 1970 Dodge Challenger, and stop for coffee.
While the concept is simple, Regan said having a camera on you without having any prepared material was unnerving.
“You’re going to be nervous for something like that. I was. I don’t know how entertaining I am off stage,” Regan said. “It’s kind of an interesting dynamic, because he wants it to be natural. He wants it to be two comedians who can talk about serious things, but can also laugh with each other and have the normal flow with ups and downs. After a while you forget that you’re even being filmed, and that’s probably where some of the best stuff came from.”
Regan’s best stuff comes from his every-day observations, riffing on his issues sending packages through UPS, or Pop Tarts or “Antiques Road Show.”
“Usually I don’t slam things too hard,” Regan said when asked if he ever hears back from organizations. “My angle is that the companies are OK, it’s the people, we’re the morons.”
His non-confrontational approach has earned him a reputation as a “clean comic,” a label he doesn’t mind.
While his material may be family friendly, it isn’t focused on his 14-year-old son or his 10-year-old daughter.
“I have tried to avoid having my kids feel like I’m following them around with a notebook,” Regan said. “I want them to feel like my time with them is special and not just something I can exploit in the future. I’ve done a couple of jokes about them, but lately I’ve tried to shy away from that. I want them to feel like Daddy can get his comedy elsewhere.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533