Comedian Brian Regan talks Duluth, jokes, and Netflix shows

Photo courtesy Friedman Bergman

Photo courtesy Friedman Bergman

Ten years ago Brian Regan performed in Duluth and this November he is making his return to, in his words, “The greatest city in the world.” The comedian is bringing his non-stop theater tour to the DECC in downtown Duluth, Nov. 8. The veteran comedian has had a big year with the first of his two Netflix specials, “Brian Regan: Nunchucks and Flamethrowers” premiering last November, his second season on the Audience Channel hit “Loudermilk” premiering Oct. 16, and his tour continuing to sell to rave reviews across North America. Earlier this month Oct. 23 he took time to phone in and answer some questions about his upcoming Duluth performance and the life of a comedian.

It’s been 10 years since you last performed in Duluth. If people were at that show and now coming to this one, what can they expect?

I would imagine all the content has changed, you know, after 10 years. Except when I come out at the end. Sometimes I come out and do an encore at the end with some older bits so people may recognize those. The actual hour will be totally new from 2008. When I script my act out [the jokes] are like tiny little plays, I act out a little scene, a situation, and I poke fun at it. It’s not two guys walk into a bar kind of joke.

How do you keep jokes relevant? Do you change up the show every time?

Well I do it throughout the year and I’ve done it for many years, so from night to night the act changes a little bit. The changes might seem small but over a year they’re dramatic, you end up with hours of new material. I’m always working towards a new hour I can do as a special or an album. It’s a constant process.

Where do you get your jokes from? How do you create this from your life?

Just from everyday life. I know it sounds like a boring answer, but I don’t really seek out comedy. I just do what I would normally do. I experience what I would normally experience and then every once in a while you see something in a way that bumps you a little bit, you say, “hey that's weird… that's funny” and use it as a bit. You jot it down and give it a shot on stage.

Is it hard to put out jokes you’ve never done before? What if the crowd doesn’t react the way you expect them to?

Well, I mean that's part of the fun of it. That you do never know, you think of something and you get a hunch. You think, “this feels funny to me.” But you never know if its gonna feel funny to other people or a room full of people until you try it and that's what's fascinating about it. It's not like I can punch some information into a computer and get a sure-fire result. At the end of the day it's still a guess, an educated guess, but a guess. So if they don’t laugh, that's okay. Audiences will give you a foul ball. Always try to bookend new stuff with old stuff that I know will work. Segway into consistent stuff.

When you started out did you imagine yourself staying in this career for so long?

I don't know what I expected. When I first started I was hoping I could do this as a job I wasn't thinking so much the financial side I just thought it would be a fun thing to do. I was passionate about wanting to do it. I don't think I thought years ahead, can I do this for decades? I just thought can I do this for a gig? And I had to put [in] a lot of work and effort and there were a lot of downsides in the beginning. It's not easy. But I had enough passion for it that I was willing to go through the stumbling times to get to the better times.

Now you’re in a deal for your second hour with Netflix, how does that feel?

When we first had the deal we had it for two of them it wasn’t like I did the one and they said, “okay we like it now we are going to do the second one.” We made a deal to do two one hours and we knew it would take a couple years between the first and the second [hour]. I like it because it gives me that fire under me to know that I need a new hour at a certain point and time. I tend to like to write anyway, but to know that there’s a deadline is helpful. When I was in college I wrote for the college newspaper, I had a cartoon strip, and you know you had a deadline and you gotta get your stuff in. It was interesting, it was like “wow- I have to get this done.”

Now you’ve also stepped into the acting world with, Loudermilk. What’s it like acting on this show?

Love it. It’s a whole new thing for me. There’s several episodes where they feature my character a lot. It’s fun! I never really did a lot of acting in my career and to be able to do that in addition to the stand up is a blast.

Do you have to remember things more exactly for the show or do they still give you creative freedom?

Well you do want to basically get the gist of the way it’s written and I do that most of the time. But the director Peter Farrelly and his brother Bobby Farrelly, who’s also directed a few episodes, are very cool with me. They know I’m a stand-up comedian and they've basically given me the green light to play around with the words and say them in a way I think might work better. So I do that quite often. And it's fun to read something on paper and go “eh, this could be better if I do this this way” and I like that they're cool enough to let me do that.

Any lasting thoughts for the people of Duluth?

I want people to know that Duluth is the greatest city in the world and I’m so honored to be able to come back and that there would be no better place to celebrate how wonderful the people of Duluth are than to come out to the Brian Regan Comedy Show.

Regan will be performing at the Duluth DECC Auditorium on Nov. 8. Tickets can be purchased here.

Be sure to also check out his Netflix Special, “Brian Regan: Nunchucks and Flamethrowers” now streaming on Netflix, as well as his role in “Loudermilk” Tuesdays at 9/10 p.m. central time.

CultureHeidi Stang