While other stand-ups have garnered considerable fame and notoriety from sitcom deals, comedian Brian Regan has largely kept to the stage. A regular on the comedy club circuit since the 1980s, Regan has been consistently touring and developing a loyal following for his profanity-free act. Check out some things you might not know about the 59-year-old performer.
1. HE DROPPED OUT OF COLLEGE TO PURSUE COMEDY.
One of eight children growing up in 1960s Miami, Regan has said his entire family was funny. Attending Catholic school, he recalled hiding behind nuns and making faces. While studying at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio to become an accountant, Regan decided to drop out in his senior year to pursue a career in entertainment. (In 1997, he decided to finish his credits and was able to graduate.)
2. HE FIGURED OUT PRETTY QUICKLY THAT DIRTY HUMOR WASN’T HIS THING.
Some of the most iconic stand-ups in the history of the art form have worked “blue,” using provocative language and situations as a model for their humor. But Regan has developed a reputation for “working clean,” or having a family-friendly set. According to the comedian, it wasn’t anything he focused on at first. “When I did have profanity, it was such a small part of my show,” he told The Columbus Dispatch in 2011. “To have five percent blue and the other 95 percent clean seemed to put things off-kilter. When I did do a clean show, the comments were so intense, I realized this is important to some people. I decided the other five percent wasn’t that important, anyway.”
3. HE LETS HIS KIDS LISTEN TO JUST FIVE MINUTES OF MATERIAL.
While his act is appropriate for all ages, Regan said in 2012 that he typically limited his then-13-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter to just five minutes of watching his act. “I don’t want them to think of me as Daddy the comedian,” he said.
4. HE WON’T PERFORM CLOSE TO HOME.
Regan spends a good chunk of the year touring theaters, but he prefers not to book dates close to his residence in Las Vegas. “I don’t want to be a comedian when I’m at home,” he told the Deseret News in 2012. “I don’t want people who know me talking about tickets ... I want to talk about my kids learning how to ride their bikes ... It’s always a little weird when that bubble gets popped, when somebody might recognize me and come up and go, ‘Hey, wow, Brian Regan.’ I’m not even in that frame of mind. I’m just thinking, ‘I’m just buying my daughter some socks.’”
5. HE SET A LETTERMAN SHOW RECORD.
If a comedian’s act could be measured by sports stats, Regan would be a Hall of Famer. After making his first appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman in 1995, Regan wound up being invited back 27 more times—more than any other comedian on the show.
6. HE BOOKED A TEENAGER’S BIRTHDAY PARTY.
The sizable guarantees of comedians like Regan, Chris Rock, or Jerry Seinfeld make it unlikely they’ll be appearing at birthday parties or weddings anytime soon. But Regan made an exception in 2016 for Luke Granger, a 16-year-old fan from Lansing, Michigan who asked Regan to perform for his birthday via the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Regan agreed, doing a set in front of Granger’s family and friends at Riverview Church in Lansing.
7. HE PREFERS NOT TO LOOK AT HIS AUDIENCE.
When performing in larger venues with thousands of seats, Regan likes the house lighting to be arranged so that he can barely see beyond the third row. “I want to see a handful of people in the front, but for the most part I like the house to be dark,” he told Vanity Fair in 2015. “I don’t want to walk out and see 5000 people. The audience is a thing. I try to play it like an instrument. I try to make this thing laugh. I don’t think of it as a group of individuals. I think of it as this big blob of humanity and I want to get it laughing.”
8. THE “MR. CLEAN” IMAGE ISN’T REALLY ACCURATE.
Regan has often chafed at being identified as a “clean” comic, since he feels it’s simply one method of working toward the common comedian goal of getting a laugh. At one point, his reputation for never uttering a dirty word got to the point where people began to tell stories that he’d never so much as had a drop of alcohol, let alone cursed. When Regan heard a radio producer mention that to a friend during dinner, he stopped the waitress and said, “I’ll have a f-ckin’ beer.”