30 years into his standup comedy career, Brian Regan’s material hinges on what makes him laugh. Despite his appreciation for his audience, Regan said he is wary of chasing a reaction.
“I like thinking of quirky, weird things that are funny to me, and I like getting on stage and seeing if other people find them to be as quirky and funny as I do,” he said. “I feel like if you’re trying too hard to please an audience, then you're no longer interesting.”
Regan’s February 14th show will not be his first time performing standup comedy in Eugene. Playing nearly 100 cities annually, he said he is used to doing one-nighters, but admitted, it’s a strange way to travel.
“I wish I could experience cities more than I do,” he said. “You get to see the country but not really. You know, you see it at high speed.”
Regan said he enjoys the “brain to brain connection” he makes with audiences and how it results in new fans.
“Humor is a very bizarre thing,” he said. “Like other animals don't have it, you know? At least that I know of. You know, maybe there's a bird comedy club in a tree somewhere. 'The Bird Nest' or something. And if there is, I’m going to ask my agent to get me booked there.”
Regan said he believes the expression “write what you know” applies to comedy in that an act is more genuine when the performer sticks with the material they personally find funny.
Early on in Regan’s career, like many comedians at the time, he had aspirations of landing a sitcom. But as time passed, he realized that he was seeking a stamp of approval and became more interested in how he could be creative.
“So I took my foot off the gas in terms of hoping for a sitcom and just decided to concentrate on the stand up,” he said. “And I thought, ‘if I ever get an opportunity in a TV show, I want it to be something that I find to be very creative.’”
Regan got that chance in late 2018 with the premiere of his Netflix series, "Stand Up And Away! With Brian Regan." He recalled having a conversation with executive producer Jerry Seinfeld, who told Regan that he was deserving of his own show. Regan has long felt support from Seinfeld, which he likened to being knighted.
“If anybody likes what I do, it makes me feel good. But if comedians, like what I do, it's an even higher honor because they get on stage and they do it themselves,” he said.
Regan said he wrote a pitch for "Stand Up and Away!" after Seinfeld said that he would help spearhead a show for him, and the pair soon met with Netflix to discuss it.
“[Seinfeld] was like the muscle that got it through for me, and I will forever be indebted,” he said.
Regan said he realized that many of his older standup routines “still had life” and that many people had never seen them before. He said the idea behind the series was to showcase some classic bits in a fresh way with the added element of video sketches.
“I don't do them in my normal act, but when I go around the country, if I do an encore, people like to yell out older bits,” he said.
Regan said that many of the jokes in his standup resemble “little vignettes” of him in different situations — “me and an eye doctor,” “me and a flight attendant” or “me and a refrigerator salesman,” that would be fitting premises for sketches. But he said that he and Seinfeld both agreed, “if something is a standup bit, I want it to remain a standup bit,” so Regan made a concerted effort to distinguish between the two worlds.
In the coming months, Regan will film a standup special for Netflix that is expected to be available over the holidays this year.
Regan will perform in Eugene at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts on Friday Feb. 14 at 8 pm.