Brian Regan has been called a people's comic for his everyman take on aging, family, texting and current events.
He has appeared on David Letterman more than 20 times and has sold out venues nationwide since 2005. Admired by college kids and grandmas, he is among the few comics who have made the leap from comedy clubs to theaters without the exposure of having his own TV show or movie.
And he has done it without uttering a single four-letter word.
Fresh off the digital release of his latest album, All By Myself, Regan performs Saturday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. Joining him will be his older brother, Dennis, a comedian and former writer for the CBS sitcom The King of Queens.
Regan, 53, spoke with the Times about his style of comedy and his Mr. Clean reputation.
Do you get tired of being referred to as the clean comic?
It's a double-edged sword. I don't sit down in front of a piece of paper and go, "I'm going to write some clean jokes." I just write what I gravitate toward, and it just happens to be everyday kinds of things. You can either enjoy the comedy or enjoy the fact that it's clean. To me, I'm more into the comedy part.
Is it more difficult to make people laugh without cursing?
People do respond to four-letter words. I have no problem with comedians who use them or who are blue or dirty, especially if it's organic to them like Richard Pryor, who was probably the best comedian who ever lived. For me, it wouldn't be truthful or organic.
How do people respond when you do curse?
It can be weird offstage, because my working clean thing is only onstage. If someone were to hear me bang my pinky toe on a coffee table, they'd hear words they wouldn't hear me say on stage. That would be an interesting show if they just put a coffee table on stage and turned the lights out.
Did you grow up in an environment where your parents frowned upon swearing?
We were not allowed to curse in our house or in our yard. We called it cussing, and sometimes kids from the neighborhood would come over, and they would cuss, and we had to take them aside and say, "Listen man, you're going to get kicked out of our yard if our parents hear you talking like that." It was almost like a hospital has a quiet zone. Our house had a no cussing zone.
How did you come to do comedy?
I went to college to become an accountant. I got bored and switched majors to communication and theater arts. One of my first classes was a speech class, and every week we had to do a speech in front of a class. That first time that I connected with the class and had everyone laughing, I remember walking back to my dorm and going, "I never felt like this when I walked back from accounting class."