3 Questions

3 Questions with Brian Regan

Stand-up and “Loudermilk” star returns to New Mexico

Dubbed “your favorite comedian’s favorite comedian” by Entertainment Weekly, stand-up Brian Regan has been in the biz for more than 40 years, with eight stand-up specials and a whopping 28 appearances on Letterman under his belt. Regan’s high-energy, highly-relatable comedy sets him apart as one of the nation’s most enduring performers. We chatted with Regan about his lengthy career in anticipation of his upcoming show at Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino (8pm Saturday, June 8. $59-$79 30 Buffalo Thunder Trail, (505) 455-5555). This interview has been edited for clarity and concision; read an extended version at sfreporter.com. (Isabel Madley)

I love the story that you were an econ major until your football coach suggested you switch. Was there a specific moment that made you realize, ‘OK—this is what I’m supposed to be doing?’

I took a speech class, and for one of the speeches we had to try to be humorous. So I wrote this speech and killed, if you will. And not only did it feel good, I remember the teacher in the back, this woman, was laughing like crazy, and I was thinking, ‘I’ve never impressed a teacher in my life with anything!’ Then I remember walking back to the dorm after the class and I was on a cloud, thinking, ‘I don’t feel like this when I walk back from any of my other classes.’ So I was like, ‘whatever that was, I know I want that in my life.’

Do you feel like comedy has changed since you started?

Yeah, it’s like anything else; it grows and evolves. In fact, if I were young now and trying to get into stand-up comedy...I don’t even know. I wouldn’t know how to do it. Because when I started, comedy clubs were just opening around the country, and the way you got on stage was to go to an open mic night at a comedy club. Now, a lot of comedy clubs don’t even have open mic nights. So yes, the comedy world has changed. I like watching things grow. I also, because I’ve been at it for a long time, kind of like the way that I do stand up. I’m not interested in changing too much.

Sometimes a band puts out new music that sounds nothing like their classics, and the fans feel betrayed. Do you think there’s the same pressure on comedians to keep their ‘sound,’ so to speak? Do you ever feel tempted to do more topical stuff?

I don’t want to just do the hits. As a comedian, I try to be careful to do what I want to do, and not be beholden to what other people are expecting of me. Even if there are people in the audience who would prefer to hear older stuff, like, well, I’m sorry, but I’m here to share what I feel like sharing tonight with you. I’ve been fortunate over the years that people tend to like the new stuff as well. So I guess that’s why I’m lucky that people keep coming back. Lately I do touch on things that would surprise people. I talk about certain topics that raise some people’s eyebrows. But I try to do the kind of stuff that both sides would laugh at. I don’t want my audience going, ‘Man, I wish I hadn’t come here tonight,’ but I do like to get a little edgy with the topic choices, especially over the last few years. If you want to have the metaphor of a roller coaster ride, I like it to be a little herky jerky.

You played Mugsy on Peter Farrelly’s Loudermilk. A set has very different energy than a live audience. How did those compare for you?

It’s weird because, as a stand-up comedian, you’re delivering your own words, and when you write a joke, you know how it’s supposed to be delivered…but when you’re reading words that somebody else wrote, it’s a different animal. I was really nervous about the whole acting thing and about a week in, I was doing a scene and Peter Farrelly came up to me [and said,] ‘Listen, I don’t want you worrying about the exact words. I trust you and I know that you’re a funny guy. So just say it however it feels good for you.’ For the very next take I kind of ad libbed a thing, and it got a big laugh on the set. And then, from that moment forward, I felt a lot more comfortable about acting. I love watching good actors on TV and in movies, and it’s a thrilling quest to try to pull off.

Would you want to do more acting in the future?

I think so. I think I enjoyed it. I’ll take the ‘think’ part out—I know so. If somebody gave me an opportunity to do a role in a movie or something like that, I would love it. I’m hoping that Loudermilk does get picked up for another season or two or three and I would be excited to get back into that. It’s not for everybody, you know, it’s not clean. It can get really earthy and gritty and dirty. But there’s a lot of heart to the show and I hope that they decide to do more.

Are you working on a special right now?

I am working toward doing another special. I don’t have a place nailed down yet…I don’t know how many more I would do after that. This might be the last special I would do, because I don’t know if you learned my age, but I’m 98 years old. So if I can do a special before my 100th birthday, then that would be my swan song.

And that’ll be the average age of your Santa Fe audience, so...

Great, well, I got jokes that are going to be right up their alley.

Isabel Madley is a local writer, actor and comedian. In her spare time she enjoys producing shows and goofing off with Santa Fe’s very own Wayward Comedy.

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