Brian Regan: Getting loud and getting laughs

Comedian Brian Regan brings his national theater tour to the Stamford Center for the Arts Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m. That same week, he’ll be back in season 2 of the hit series Loudermilk on The Audience Network (Oct. 16 premiere). Regan is one of a handful of comedians to be given a two-special deal on Netflix and the first, Nunchucks and Flamethrowers, is streaming now. One of his funniest bits available on YouTube is his riff on royalty “jiggling the handle” on Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Andrea Valluzzo spoke to him about his show.

Andrea Valluzzo: Tell us about your show, what can audiences expect?

Brian Regan: If you like music and dancing and comedy, come out for one-third of that.  

AV: Where do you find your inspiration?

BR: Everywhere. I sort of think of it like when you were in high school, they let you be the captain and pick the basketball teams. All the other kids are jumping up and down saying ‘Hey pick me.’ That’s what jokes are like.

AV: How structured is your show?

BR: You’re always trying to walk the line between being underprepared and overprepared. You don’t want it be so memorized that you suck all the life out of it but you also don’t want to be underprepared where you don’t know what you are talking about on stage. I basically know what I want to do but I have the freedom while I am on stage to move things around in the heat of the moment; if something is working particularly well, I can do more about that. If something is not working very well, I can switch gears and move onto another subject.

AV: Do you get nervous before a show? Say, when you were at Carnegie Hall last fall?

BR: The Carnegie Hall thing was certainly a big show for me. That clearly is an iconic venue in the world. Everybody has heard of Carnegie Hall. If you were to find uncontacted tribes down in South America, they would know what Carnegie Hall was. As far as getting nervous, it depends on the situation. If I am performing for people who know who I am, I don’t get that nervous because I know I am already in friendly territory. If I am performing for people assembled for another reason, I might get a little nervous, I know I have to go on stage and prove myself.

AV: So you were doing a Lucille Ball festival in upstate New York and Peter Farrelly caught your act and offered you a spot on Loudermilk. Did you have any inkling how far it would go?

BR: I had no idea. Usually you do your show and you go back to your hotel. This time Peter Farrelly came backstage, had some nice things to say and said he was working on a project and was wondering if I would be interested in it. Just the fact that he saw my show was a big deal and the fact that he had good things to say was cool. And when he offered me a role in the show, it was tremendous for me. Normally, I do stand-up comedy, but to have the opportunity to do acting was a new venture for me.

AV: Was it a hard transition to acting?

BR: It was challenging. When you do stand-up, you can tell if the audience is liking you by whether they are laughing. When you are doing this acting thing, it’s weird because you are on a set where people are supposed to not laugh. You do a scene, they say cut and you’re like ‘Was that any good?’ I’m learning to trust my instincts more.

AV: Give us a sneak peek to what happens to Mugsy this season.

BR: He gets an opportunity to spend a day with his kids, which is kind of wonderful for Mugsy because he has been estranged from his family. You don’t actually see the kids but it gets referred to in a pretty interesting way.

AV: Mugsy is just a character but how much of you did you put into the character?

BR: You have to do everything you can to make your character be you and feel like you, so you draw on real aspects of yourself but the biography of Mugsy has nothing to do with me. He’s a guy who is trying to recover from substance abuse throughout his whole life, that’s not something that’s true to me. When you are performing you have to try to find a way to make it feel like it is you. It’s an interesting challenge and I love the opportunity to be able to give it a shot.

AV: Nunchucks and Flamethrowers is your first Netflix special and it’s streaming well. What was filming that like?

BR: I shot that in Denver, I enjoy doing stand-up in front of enthusiastic audiences, so it was a lot of fun to do. I have another special coming up in 2019, which we will be taping and airing next year. I am now in the process of turning over the material.

AV: Who are your comic role models or inspirations?

BR: There are comedians, iconic names who I liked: George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Johnny Carson and in today’s world, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Maria Bamford (she does these obscure characters).

AV: Do you have any pre-show rituals?

BR: I like to go over my outline of the stuff I want to hit, especially the new stuff. I hit the bullet points, especially if I’m doing an hour show … so they are fresh in my head while I am on stage.

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