Comedian Brian Regan normally headlines theaters and large concert halls, but Friday and Saturday he’ll perform four intimate stand-up sets at The Comedy Zone.
It’s not that the Miami-raised comedian’s career has taken a dive. In fact, he returns to posh theaters and auditoriums in August.
“I miss it,” says Regan, who hasn’t headlined a club in five or six years. “In a comedy club, there are other things going on. Sometimes a guy in the front is being served a cheeseburger. I call them shock absorbers when you’re on stage. In theaters, the (crowd’s) focus tends to be stronger. When a joke doesn’t work you can’t blame it on the blender.”
It also gives Regan a chance to try out new material in a different environment. Regan is the unusual comedian who can pack a house without benefit of a television series, which seems to be a goal for many comics.
“The reason I wanted more of that in the past was because I thought it would lead me to play larger venues. And then I got lucky enough where I got a following just from the stand-up. I didn’t need to get a sitcom,” he says.
So why does he prefer the road to the seeming stability of TV?
“Creatively, I love the autonomy of being a comedian. I don’t have to run my jokes by a committee or network. I love the simplicity of that, and how quickly I can try things out. If you’re an architect, you’re not going to see that building for six years. I can think of a joke at 5 p.m. and know if it’s any good by 8 p.m.”
Regan is no stranger to failed jokes – not necessarily because his jokes were unfunny, but because he completely forgot them. Take his first audition at The Comic Strip in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“I got on stage probably more scared than anyone has ever been in their life. I was thrown by how bright the lights were, and I got so nervous I completely blanked. I couldn’t remember one word, and I just ad-libbed about how stupid I was that I couldn’t remember any of my audition. It was a surreal experience,” he recalls.
He was floored by the response.
“Other comedians came up to me and said, ‘That part where you pretended to forget your act? It was funny as heck.”
Heck? You read that right. In an industry full of blue comedians, Regan is known as one of the clean ones.
“To me, it’s like a medium. Like a painter might use acrylics. It’s fun and challenging. As it turns out, there is a market for (clean comedy). That’s not why I do it, but I realized in a comedy club years ago (the advantage) of playing Tuesday through Sunday. Tuesday people would come up and say, ‘We really liked your show. This weekend I’m bringing my aunt and my cousin.’ They get sent out first like scouts,” he says.
His “clean” reputation also means he attracts a variety of age groups.
“Sometimes people bring kids and older folks,” he says. “A family came backstage at a theater and had an 80-year-old woman with them. She said, ‘How long have you been in vaudeville?’ (I replied), ‘I’ve been in it since 1910 apparently.’ ”