Last Friday, my wife and I took in a comedy show starring the exceptional Brian Regan. I’m still laughing, and you could be too.
Brian began touring the U.S. in the late ’80s, won the American Comedy Award for Best Comedian in 1996, and recorded a live CD in 1997 that still ranks high among iTunes comedy albums 11 years after it’s debut. You may have seen him on Letterman, Leno, Conan, or perhaps on Mr. Carson’s show one year before the king’s retirement.
Brian starred in a Comedy Central special in 2000 and recorded a live DVD in 2004. Last year, Brian was named one of Comedy Central’s premiere comedians, and is recording two hour-long specials for the network. One special is available today, and rumor has it that a full TV show is in the works.
Besides the fact that my real job is dangerously close to PR, I gave the above recap of Brian’s career for good reason. Before the show, many friends asked us, “Which club is Brian performing at?” We smiled because Brian was doing his routine at the 2,376-seat War Memorial Auditorium. (Chattanooga friends, think Tivoli. Boston, think Orpheum.)
What’s the good reason? We sat in the balcony and couldn’t see one empty seat in a theater designed for $40- to $50-per-head concerts. According to the program, Brian is one of the only comedians to make the leap from clubs to theaters without the help of a personal TV show. When was the last time a comedian drew crowds of that size, nearly 100 times a year? Seinfeld? Brian Regan is doing it the hard way, night by night, year after year. And he is absolutely hilarious.
Since first hearing Brian in 2002 (thank you, Zach), I’ve discovered that all kinds of people from all over the U.S. enjoy his work just as much – or more – than me. Someone you know can probably quote his “you too” joke. Most of us hope that he continues his craft – with or without a TV show – helping the masses laugh.
What’s his secret? Take your pick. Some suggest his lack of a warning label, others cite his perfect blend of smart writing and onstage physicality. All of the above and more, I say. Brian’s jokes are quintessentially universal. He draws on stories of growing up (hey, everybody does it) and connects with the fear of looking stupid during everyday events. He also comedically reframes the pedestrian dealings of our lives, proving that the art of comedy can be just as meaningful as art’s other forms. (Hooray for the fool!)
Did I mention that he’s really funny?
So, if you’re a fan of Brian’s or just a fan of comedy, I highly recommend Brian Regan’s current tour. Visit his tour page to see when he’s coming to a theater near you. Leave me a comment to let me know what you think, and try not to look stupid.