Brian Regan won't joke about sex -- and there's something funny about that. So funny, in fact, that Regan has earned a reputation as the most talented comic on today's standup scene -- a frequently filthy place.
"I have always worked fairly clean," Regan explains. "Although, when I first started, I had my share of off-color jokes. . . . Then I noticed that, if I just happened to work completely clean, I would have so many people come up to me after the show and say, Wow. We really enjoyed the show, and we really liked the fact that it was so clean.'"
So it was that Mr. Clean became Mr. Cool -- and Regan hit upon a novel idea. "I started realizing, Why not take the challenge all the way and do a completely clean show?'
"It has nothing to do with being a prude," he insists. "To me, it's a personal challenge . . . I just love seeing how hard I can get people laughing without giving them the f-word. I think people laugh too much at that word. It's not a hard word to say. People are disproportionally entertained at it."
Having spent the last 20 years on the circuit, Regan is well aware that a flailing comedian can rally a room simply by dropping the f-bomb. "I have seen two guys [in the audience] stand up and high-five each other right after the word was said. I just marveled, wondering, Why is that so entertaining? Are they amazed that the word can be said through a sound system?'"
Four-letter words may spell guaranteed laughs, but Regan's not about to take the easy way out. After all, to swear is human; to rise above it and still be funny, divine. "I don't want to do something that I know is relatively easy. . . . There are plenty of comics that cover that ground -- you know, the sexual stuff -- so that leaves the whole rest of the world for me."
And the rest of Regan's world is, lucky for us, a comedic mine field. "All of my stuff is from everyday life. It's what they call observational comedy.' Going through my day, buying a home, going to the doctor, getting on a plane, going to the supermarket . . . just things that everybody does.
"On paper, my topic choices are purposefully generic. . . . But I find the really quirky unseen things . . . the peculiar within the mundane."
This quest for quirks works. Regan's résumé boasts opening gigs for Jerry Seinfeld and two consecutive American Comedy Awards for "Best Club Comedian" -- and it's not unusual to hear other comedians cite him as the best in the business. High expectations are no laughing matter; does Regan fear he'll run out of funny?
"I don't feel pressure," he says. "I just feel good when I get onstage. I feel like people are there to go along on this little comedy ride, and usually it works out."
With Regan at the wheel, it's a joy ride every time.