In these tumultuous and chaotic times, it can be hard sometimes to see the lighter side of things— which makes comedians crucial for coping, according to Brian Regan. “I think comedy is very important. I think it always has been and always will be. Sometimes people aren’t sure how they’re supposed to think or feel about things, and when somebody else shines a light on it comedically, it reinforces what they had in their head.”
Regan, a veteran of the stand-up comedy scene for over four decades, will perform at Toledo’s Funny Bone for two nights, Tuesday, September 15 and Wednesday September 16. He’s had a bit of an adjustment getting used to playing in front of crowds during the pandemic. “Theaters are closed, so I have been doing comedy clubs where they allow one table with two people. So I’ve been doing shows for two people a night,” Regan joked.
“I’m doing comedy clubs with social distancing, maybe half the capacity or even less than what they normally would have. So it’s different for me on two levels— I haven’t done comedy clubs in a long time. And the social distancing in the clubs themselves has been bizarre, so it’s been different.”
A new kind of audience
The changes in the world haven’t really brought much of a change to Regan’s material. His observational, often self-deprecating, humor remains sharp and even though crowds have been smaller and separated, they seem ready to laugh. “The people that are there, they are enthusiastic, and it’s been fun.”
Regan has connections with the Buckeye State, having attended Heidelberg College in Tiffin. He’d planned on being an accountant, believe it or not, until his football coach encouraged him to consider a change of career path toward comedy and theater. ”I have a lot of friends in Ohio because . . . I went to college in Ohio. I really loved my years at Heidelberg. I wish there weren’t so many of them. I wish I would have only had four years at Heidelberg, but I wanted to stretch my joy out.”
Regan’s comedy travels well, in the midwest or in other parts of the country. He tends to shy away from off-color or vulgar jokes, frequently being labeled as a “clean” comic— a classification that Regan sees as a double-edged sword.
“I think the word ‘clean’ attracts some people, but it also turns some people away, even though I like to work that way. And even though people who might see the word would say, ‘Eh, I don’t want to see some “clean’ comedian,‘ they will have a good time and not care whether or not the act is ‘clean’.”
Regan aims to bring smiles to an eager audience, ready to laugh with him at some universal truths about human nature. At least, he hopes they’ll laugh with him. “My biggest fear in comedy is that I kill for an hour, and then right as I say good night, I realize the microphone is off and my zipper is down. Then I realize, oh, they’ve been laughing *at* me for an hour!”
7:30pm, Tuesday, September 15 and Wednesday, September 16.
Toledo Funny Bone, 6140 Levis Commons Blvd., Perrysburg
419-931-3474 | toledo.funnybone.com