"He's ... the funniest guy that the world doesn't quite know about," Chris Rock said Monday of comic Brian Regan on Marc Maron's podcast WTF. "He's one of those guys that no comedian in the world says, 'Yeah, I want to follow Brian Regan.' "
Quotes like Rock's about Regan pop all the time on podcasts and in interviews. Regan's reputation as a comedian's comedian is well-known and well-earned. And he didn't build that rep by being provocative or incendiary. Regan's observational humor is clean and actually family-friendly. Which means it must be really funny if he's beloved by so many profane degenerates.
Rock certainly is a fan — he gave him a part in his new vehicle Top Five, which comes out this week. In fact, Regan has been kept so busy with the promo for Top Five, we could only interview him via email, which we did late last week.
NUVO: Do you mold your set differently in different parts of the country? Indiana (and much of the Midwest) is super conservative — does that affect your set in any way?
Brian Regan: I don't really change my set that much from city to city or state to state. The only joke I might not do in Indianapolis is, "What's with all those weirdos in Indianapolis?"
NUVO: Speaking of our fair city, any great (or terrible) stories from the Hoosier state?
Regan: My dad worked for the airlines so we could basically fly for free, but we had to fly standby. One time we were at the airport and there weren't enough standby seats avail on the flight to our vacation destination. So we left that gate and passed a gate that was boarding a flight to Indianapolis. My dad walked up to the gate agent and said, "Do you have enough seats open for my family over there?" A few minutes later we were wheels up to Indianapolis. Ended up having a great time!
NUVO: How long did Jerry Seinfeld drive you around on your Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee episode? I like to imagine that he just toodles around with people all day in those fancy cars.
Regan: Jerry Seinfeld picked me up and I guess we drove around for about four hours. It's weird being in a car chatting with someone at a red light then a van pulls up next to you loaded to the rafters with a film crew.
NUVO: I've heard Chris Rock quoted as saying that a comic can bring the same show back to the same city just once — any more than that and people will stop showing up. Since you're on a never-ending tour, what system do you have of integrating new material?
Regan: I think if people like your show, they'll come back. If they see basically the same exact show, I think far less would come back a third time. I like to keep adding stuff and dropping stuff so hopefully people keep coming back. For example, I just dropped my joke, "What's with this Nixon guy, huh?"
NUVO: How does it feel to be a Mormon comedy hero? [Editor's note: Regan does, it has been noted, particularly well in Utah and other Mormon-populated enclaves.]
Regan: I like when anybody likes me. I've been honored to be so embraced by the Mormon community. I'm sure the fact that I work clean plays into that. But I also feel like they must think I'm kind of funny. So it's pretty cool.
NUVO: Were you modeling your Top Five Sirius Hits 1 character off of any satellite radio host in particular?
Regan: My character in the Top Five movie is a radio engineer who asks Chris Rock's character to be a little funnier after he does a liner for the station. I can relate to my character because I know what it's like when people sometimes think comedians can just make anything funny at any time. So it was a very fun scene to do.
NUVO: What is "stank," anyway?
Regan: Ha! For people reading this who might not know, to help Chris Rock's character be funnier, I tell him "to put some stank on it!" It just helps underscore how out of touch my character is with the world of comedy.
NUVO: What are your favorite comedy albums of the year? How much comedy do you consume (podcasts, live, albums, written pieces, etc)?
Regan: I don't watch or listen to a lot of comedy albums or specials. If I see a comedy special as I'm clicking around, I'll watch part of one here and there. But for entertainment, I usually like to get into something outside of comedy — sports, news, and, oddly enough, The RFD Channel. [Editor's note: Regan is referring, of course, to RFD-TV, "the nation's first 24-hour TV network dedicated to serving the needs and interests of rural America."]
NUVO: Patton Oswalt said this about accusations against Bill Cosby: "The Bill Cosby thing is so fucking awful, and what's even more worse for comedians is that a lot of us have known for a long time. It was a very badly kept secret in the comedian world, and a lot of us would talk about it." What do you think is the right way for comedians to respond to the flood of accusations and lawsuits? What does it say that it took a stand up set by Hannibal Buress to bring an issue that has been mostly just whispers for years, to light?
Regan: I guess I'm kind of naive and didn't know about any of the accusations against Bill Cosby before they came to light. It's a very sad situation and I feel bad for everyone affected by it.