After telling thousands of jokes over the years, Brian Regan has become one of the most respected comedians in the field. Regan just wrapped up a role in the new Peter Farrelly television series “Loudermilk,” set to debut on the Audience Network in the fall. He returns to the area for a show March 18 at the Seneca Niagara Casino.
Question: What was it like making your “Tonight Show” debut during the Johnny Carson era?
Answer: Yes, that was a big thing for me. At the time, that was every comedian’s quest to do “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson. Now, comedians have different goals. Some might want to do a podcast. Some might want a sitcom, or be an actor in a movie. Some might just want to stay as a stand-up. But when I was starting, everybody was working toward that same goal. I was lucky to achieve that before he retired.
Q: When people find out what you do as you go about your private life, do they ask you to start telling jokes?
A: It’s tricky for me. I’m not a life of the party kind of guy. I like letting other people be in the limelight, you know what I mean? Even in party situations, I like when other people are funny. I like to laugh at others, and am not a “lampshade on the head” kind of guy. When somebody finds out you’re a comedian, the conversation that follows is (often) awkward. Sometimes people are cool, but other times people will go right to, “Tell me a joke.” Or they’ll tell you a joke, and then say you can use the joke in your act. It’s amazing to me. “You know nothing of me or my act, and yet you’re giving me a joke you didn’t think of. It’s awfully nice of you!” It would be like somebody telling me they’re a doctor, and I say, “Let me tell you how to finish up an operation.”
Q: You’ve stuck to stand-up over your career. I’m sure you’ve been given other opportunities for other projects. What’s your career philosophy?
A: I like stand-up, and I like it as an end result. Oftentimes, people use it as a stepping stone, which is fine. Everybody can make their own choices, but I like it for what it is. I like (Jerry) Seinfeld’s model when he was fortunate enough to get his TV show. He is a stand-p, and he almost did the TV show as an aside. He doesn’t need any money; he just does (stand-up) because he loves it. I like the craft of standup too, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to do something else. If I were to be lucky enough to do a TV show, it would have to be about how I think as a comedian. I’ve been resistant over the years to get involved in things that other people have done, and done well. Why do my version of something that’s already out there?
Q: So as you roll into Niagara Falls, what kind of topics do you deal with in your current set?
A: I’m dipping my big toe into the water of current events, political and otherwise. I never want to be a one-trick pony or a caricature of myself, so the only way to feel excited about myself on stage is to keep moving. Lately I’ve got a couple of jokes about guns, assault weapons, Kim Jong-Un, the election process and things that might be surprising to some fans of mine. But that’s what I want to do, just keep rolling along.
Who: Brian Regan
Where: Seneca Niagara Casino Events Center, 310 4th St., Niagara Falls
When: 8 p.m. March 18