Brian Regan's rants hardly ever get political, he never gets vulgar, and he's also a genuinely nice guy. All of those things, and his wonderful sense of humor, have made Regan one of the most successful standup comics in America for more than two decades now.
"When it comes to politics, I try to do the kind of jokes that people from both sides of the aisle can laugh at," said Regan, who will perform at the Palace Theatre in Albany Saturday at 8 p.m. "That can be challenging at times. I do a thing about how I'm the only guy I know in the middle of the gun issue. I say how I went to a convention for people who are in the middle on guns, and I was the only one in the room. Hopefully, my jokes are from a perspective that both sides can laugh at."
Regan is also known as a "clean comic," which means he avoids foul language and crude humor. He doesn't, however, particularly like the label.
"I find that the term gives the wrong impression," said Regan. "People who hear that and don't know anything about my comedy might think, oh, I don't know, tha I'm a Disney comedian. I think some of my comedy has a sharp edge to it. I just avoid using those words. It's actually a double-edged sword because while it may draw some people to my shows, it probably also turns people away. I'd rather just have people think I'm funny and not care one way or another if I'm clean or not."
Reagan's likability evidently isn't restricted to his fans. David Lettermen had him on his show what is reputed to be a record 27 times between 1995-2015, and he's one of the few entertainers who was asked to do a second episode with Jerry Seinfeld in "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee."
"I think I have to correct them, I think it's 28 times," said Regan, laughing. "Doing Dave's show once is a big deal. To be able to get on a show like that is great for your career. Getting invited again for a second time is just as important as the first. Then I was on a third time. It's very rewarding to have someone of his stature with a show like that... well it really was very rewarding. I have a great debt of gratitude for Dave and the show."
As for Seinfeld, he and Regan go back quite a ways.
"I've had a friendship, through the comedy world, with him even before his sitcom," Regan said of Seinfeld. "We kind of came up the comedy ladder together and he took a liking to my kind of comedy. It was great when he asked me to do one of the first batch, the first ten I think, of 'Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.' And then when he asked me to do a second one, and to be one of the first people to do a second one, I was very honored."
Regan was born in June of 1958 in Miami. His first comic influences were Steve Martin, The Smothers Brothers and Johnny Carson. He was also a pretty good football player and was a wide receiver for his high school team and Heidelberg College in Ohio before quitting during his senior year to pursue a stand-up career.
"I caught one touchdown pass in high school and one touchdown pass in college," remembered Regan. "That was it, but I do have a lot of great memories of playing football. Unfortunately there weren't any AFL or NFL teams looking at me. So I quit school 10 credits short of my degree to do comedy,"
Regan comes from a large family with six boys and two girls. His younger brother, Dennis Regan, is also a professional comedian.
"Everybody in my family is funny," he said. "My mom, my dad. We were a very democratic group and would always vote on things. 'Ok, who wants to go outside and play football, and who wants to go play with Barbies? Well, that's six for football and only two for Barbies. Looks like we're playing football.'"
In 1997, shortly after his stand-up career had really taken off, Regan went back to Heidelberg College to finish his degree. Well, sort of.
"I didn't have to go back and walk the hallways and go to class, but I always had this nagging feeling about doing something that was incomplete," he said. "So, they let me write a couple of papers to finish up. But I did go back to campus and did the walk with the gowns and the whole thing. I was very happy I had to opportunity to finish something I had started."
As for his comedy career, Regan published his first CD, "Brian Regan Live," also in 1997, and in 2007 signed a deal with Comedy Central to do two one-hour specials. He did a live special on Comedy Central in 2015, and signed a deal with Netflix in 2017 for two stand-up specials. In 2017 he also did four episodes of "Loudermilk" on the Audience Network, about people dealing with drug and alcohol issues.
"It's been a tremendous experience, and our second season starts next week," he said. "The show is about people recovering from substance abuse, so it's a dark comedy with some pretty serious stuff in it. I never had that kind of problem but you got to make it real. That's the fun part about acting. You have to make it feel like it really is happening to you."
While he's enjoying the acting gig, he doesn't really have much of an appetite to do a sitcom.
"I think like a stand-up," he said. "If you do a show you have to have a backstory, you have to worry about characters. I do things that last about a minute. So, at the moment a conventional sitcom is not what I'm thinking about. I've always wanted to do something a bit different."
His new Netflix project, however, is something different and quite unique.
"My new series is called 'Stand Up and Away,' and it's a hybrid of stand-up comedy and sketch comedy," said Regan. "We do some sketches that come out of the stand-up routines. We have a variety of actors that we cast to do the sketch with me. It's a four episode series, which Seinfeld is backing, and it gives me the opportunity to do a lot of my older stuff, which people still seem to like."
Regan, his ex-wife and their two kids, a 19-year-old son and a 15-year-old daughter, all live in the Las Vegas area.
"We're trying to make it as normal as we can," said Regan. "We had been living in LA, but when we were about to have our second kid, we decided to move to Vegas. My ex is from Las Vegas, so she can always get some help with the kids. I like it here. It's a good base, and LA just wasn't normal."
WHERE: The Palace Theatre, 19 Clinton St., Albany
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday
HOW MUCH: $52-$32
MORE INFO: (518) 465-4663, or visit www.palacealbany.org