He’s may be incensed at life’s absurdities, but it’s a congenial outrageBy JULIA ANN WEEKES
NH Weekend Editor May 09. 2018 12:55PM
If you go...WHO: Comic Brian Regan
WHEN: 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: The Music Hall, 28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth
TICKETS: $45 to $55
INFO: themusichall.org; 436-2400
Brian Regan isn’t taking names, and that’s one of the great things about the hilarious comedian who has conquered stand-up stages, the “Tonight Show” and Netflix.
There’s no doubt his animated, observational humor lashes out at seriously annoying people, but he’s not an insult comedian who zeroes in on a specific politician or pop star and goes for a personal character assault.
“Overall, I’m not big on hurting people’s feelings. It’s not something that I want to do,” says Regan with an affable sincerity. “With my comedy, I like it to be the kind of thing where I’m making fun of myself — you know, I’m fair game — or I’m making fun of a type of behavior. I try not to really poke a stick at an actual person with a name.”
He’s incensed at the absurdity of life, but it’s a very congenial outrage that easily pulls audiences into his goofy outlook.
“If I’m making fun of a jerk or someone who is very boorish or who won’t stop talking or whatever, those are behavior things that we’ve all seen in the world, and we all get annoyed by that,” says Regan, chatting in a hotel break between shows in Pennsylvania. “So when I’m doing a joke, I create a fictional character that I’m making fun of. But it’s still a real thing that bothers us all or that we see or notice.”
Regan, who next plays two shows at The Music Hall in Portsmouth Saturday night, enjoys making light of things.
“I’ve always said I don’t want the kind of show where a thousand people show up and 999 enjoy it and one person walks out with their feelings hurt. I want everyone to have a good time,” he says, pausing to welcome the arrival of his morning cup of coffee.
The last year and a half have been a particular whirlwind for Regan, whose befuddlement and elastic expressions have fueled vehicles including the Comedy Central specials “Brian Regan Standing Up” (2007) and “The Epitome of Hyperbole” (2008).
“I have a deal with Netflix to create two one-hour stand-up comedy specials. The first (‘Nunchucks and Flamethrowers’) came out Thanksgiving week of last year, and the second will be coming out in 2019,” he says. “In the meantime, I ended up with another deal with Netflix to create my own comedy show, and this show — I don’t want to say what it’s going to be yet — has stand-up comedy and more. I’ll just describe it that way. It’s a four-episode series. I’m already filming some of it. I’m looking forward to it coming out (next fall).”
Regan, a Miami native who lives in Las Vegas, also appeared in the first season of Peter Farrelly’s TV series “Loudermilk,” which has just been renewed for a second season. Farrelly, with his brother Bobby, is one half of the screen-writing and directing Farrelly Brothers team known for comedies with memorable low-brow laughs like “Dumb and Dumber,” “Hall Pass,” “Me, Myself and Irene,” “Shallow Hal,” “Stuck on You” and “There’s Something About Mary.”
“(Farrelly) saw one of my shows at a comedy festival and came up to me and had some very kind things to say. He said he wanted to include me in this series he was co-creator of with Bobby Mort (‘The Colbert Report’). I was like, ‘Yeah, that sounds great.’ But usually when show biz people tell you stuff like that, you never hear from them again,” he says with a laugh. “At least that’s my experience. So I kinda thought that was the end of that. And then a couple days later, he calls me up and says, ‘Alright, let’s rock ’n’ roll.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, this is really happening.’ Next thing I knew I was in this 10-episode series called ‘Loudermilk.’”
The show centers around a recovering alcoholic (Sam Loudermilk, played by Ron Livingston of “Office Space”) who may be clean but sure isn’t uncensored. Armed with a cynical outlook on life, he leads a small discussion group for others dealing with substance abuse. Regan plays one of those participants, Mugsy.
“It’s been fun. It’s interesting for me on a couple of levels. One, it’s not a clean show. It’s very gritty and real. It’s like a dark comedy, an earthy type of comedy, and that’s not kind of comedy that I do on my stand-up. I realize I’m serving someone else’s creative vision with this show, and I’m enjoying that,” Regan says.
“And I also enjoy being able to act. I’ve never really been able to do that in my career, and to have someone give me this opportunity means a lot to me,” he adds. “We just got picked up for a second season. It’s gotten great reviews. It’s kind of an obscure show on an obscure network (it’s an AT&T original series on the Audience Network), so not a lot of people know about it. Hopefully, it will get some more traction this go-around.”
Filming starts in July, and a fall release date is projected.
One easy way to gauge Regan’s popularity is a look at the late-night talk-show circuit. His tally for appearances on the “Tonight Show” alone spans a few decades and a few hosts.
“I did 28 Lettermans — I was very proud to be welcomed on that show — and I’ve done three Fallons,” says Regan.
All were memorable, but if he’d have to say what made visits to David Letterman’s set and Jimmy Fallon’s set different, Regan says: “Letterman is ... you know, a comedy great that you kneel on the altar in front of — he’d been around before I came along — and Fallon is more of a peer. Not that he’s not great at what he does. He is. But I worked with (Fallon) out on the road years ago; I was the headliner, and he was the middle act.
“It’s bizarre the way the world works out. (Fallon) was incredibly talented even when I was working with him. I thought, ‘Wow, nobody is going to hold this guy back.’ And he wound up on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ and of course now he’s the host of the ‘Tonight Show,’” Regan says. “I still respect him very much and admire what he does. I think he’s great at it, but its a little bit of a difference perspective because it’s somebody I worked with in a comedy club years back.”
Regan has come a long way since those days. Last year he did a headlining show at New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall.
“When I got into comedy, (setting my sights on) particular venues was not part of the dream for me. I think maybe musicians and singers in the back of their minds have Carnegie Hall as a dream,” Regan says. “But my dream was to be able to do stand-up comedy for a living and have someone hand me a few dollars when I’m done. So for my career to get to the point where I’m able to play places like that is very special. It’s been great.”
What could possible top that venue?
“Uhhhh ... Bob’s Fish House on Long Island,” Regan suggests, drawing out a word or two as he does when he wants to make fun of something by overemphasizing. “Maybe that would be the next domino to fall in my career?”
He’s been a regular face on comedy stages in the Granite State, and he says there’s good reason why he keeps coming here.
“Well, I love going everywhere, and New Hampshire is part of everywhere. That’s why I like going there,” he says.
Things have been going at breakneck speed lately with his various projects, but Regan is enjoying the road trip, including an appearance he did on Jerry Seinfeld’s web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”
“Yes, its been great, no complaints, life is good,” he says. “I’ve enjoyed the whole ride, but (this is the) part of the ride I get to put my seat belt on for, to stick with the same metaphor.”
One of the most rewarding parts of the job is the feedback from fans.
“It’s funny when people come up to me after shows and say nice things, which means the world to me — to say that some of my comedy has become part of their family or something, that they say little Brian Reganisms back and forth,” Regan says. “When you come up with a joke, your immediate goal is to get a laugh out of it, and then to find out sometimes it’s more special to people than just that ... It’s a very nice feather to put in one’s cap.”
At which point the interviewer takes Regan to task for mixing his metaphors and steering away from previous automobile references.
Without pause, he amends his answer, laughing as he draws out a word and then punches out others to make his response self-deprecatingly idiotic: “Sometimes I get in my car going soooooooooooo fast that my FEATHER CAP blows off.”
That’s more like it.