Brian Regan is like a rock star. His hair is frosted, he makes up new words and does encores. I'm sure he also trashes hotel rooms and plans on replacing his teeth with diamonds, but I can only report on what I observed firsthand. Regan took time backstage at the New York Comedy Festival to answer some Jokes.com questions about peach schnapps, flying dreams and Japanese porn. Read on to see if that's really what we talked about.
You've been doing comedy for 30 years, is it hard to still find inspiration?
Actually, it's easier for some reason. There was a while there… I wasn't as creative as I wanted to be for, I don't know, a five year period and I got a little lazy. And then the numbers and the audience started to drop off a little bit and I thought, "Wait a second, man, I think I forgot that original thrill." The original thrill of going on stage and not knowing whether everything's going to get a laugh or not. So I started writing again and now I just love writing. One of my favorite compliments is when people come up after a show and say, "Hey man, we saw you a year ago, two years ago and most of the stuff we've never seen before."
Do you still get nervous before a show?
Yeah. It depends on the situation. I was a little nervous tonight. I walked out there and I felt my hand shaking a little bit on the microphone. I'm like, "Hey, what's going on here? I should be past this." Usually it's not that nerve wracking, if I'm just performing a show out on the road or something like that. But if I'm doing a big, like a TV taping or something like that, I still get a little nervous.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I always retie my shoes, which sounds like, "What am I, Monk?" This anal compulsive… I just have this fear that my shoes are going to be untied on stage. I retie my shoes and I also like to do a little shot of peach schnapps, which I probably shouldn't share. There's kids listening out there, "Mommy, Brian Regan says that we should do alcohol before important things. That's what Brian Regan said in an interview." It's just a little, tiny peach schnapps and barely any alcohol in it. I'm trying to soften it.
We'll do another take, "I always have a Coca-Cola before my shows."
Patton Oswalt called you, "The best stand-up working today." Who do you think is great right now?
Well, I would be a diplomatic fool not to say, "I love Patton Oswalt," after that. I was flattered when he said that. In fact I always wish there was a macho version for the word "flattered." 'Cause I can't think of a macho word. I always feel like I'm a Southern belle, "so flattered." I just wish there was a guy way of saying that. "[in a deep voice] I was grizzlezonkered when he said that."
But, yeah, I obviously like him. My brother Dennis Regan, obviously there's some nepotism there. But we're brothers so I love the way he thinks comedically — he's a stand-up as well. And Jerry Seinfeld, I've always completely admired Jerry Seinfeld because of his ability to get comedy out of things that people think you can't get comedy out of. Like cotton balls and greeting cards… you know, just the average, most everyday thing that most people look at and don't find humor in and he finds humor in it. So yeah, he's one of those people. There's a lot of people. Mitch Hedberg I like. Maria Bamford does these very interesting characters and not your tried and true kind of stuff. She's off the beaten path and she's just incredibly talented.
Have you noticed a change in comedy?
Yeah, I still get paid in change. So there's still change, but now I'm getting, like, up close to a dollar. It used to be I get two dimes and a nickel and now, tonight, I'm probably getting 95 cents. No, there's been changes, sure but comedy is like any other art form. It's going to evolve, you know. Music has changed, obviously, from the '50s to the '60s to the '70s and comedy's the same. And it should change. Everything gets boring if it becomes stagnant.
After your set was over you came back and did an encore. Do you do that often?
It's kind of become a thing that I'm very grizzlezonkered by. When I performed in comedy clubs, you just say goodnight and then you leave. And the first time I did a theater where the people were there to see me, I left the stage and they just kind of kept applauding. And my manager was like, "I think you're supposed to go back out." I didn't know what the protocol was. So I went back out just to say, "Wow, thank you." And then when I went out people started shouting out some of my older bits. So I did them just as a courtesy and then that has sort of kind of become a thing where people who come out to see me know that I do that. I like it that way. That way I can draw a clear line between new stuff and old stuff. I wouldn't want to, in my main show, be doing mostly old stuff. That would drive me nuts.
At the end of every interview I reduce it to a slumber party and I'm going to ask you some "Would You Rather?" questions.
Oh, I thought we were going to get in our pajamas. Taking a turn here.
Would you rather be an Oscar winner with a year to live or live a long life living in weird, Japanese porn?
Wow. The very last word changed my answer. I'll do the Oscar thing and live a year. Nothing against Japanese porn stars.
It is an interesting medium.
Of course. And it's changing, just like comedy and music. Remember Japanese porn from the '50s? It's a whole different ballgame now.
Would you rather have the ability to fly slowly or run fast?
Fly slowly. I used to have dreams when I was a kid about flying. I don't know, people have dream books and stuff like that, and obviously it means you want to soar and do something successful. I used to have this dream all the time and what was weird about the dream is I knew how to feel the wind even if it was a slight wind. I don't know why I'm sharing this. And I used to know how to lean into the wind in a certain way, but I knew you had to trust it, like nobody else would trust that you could actually lean and lift your feet. And I would lean and lift my feet and the wind would just kind of lift me up off. Everybody would look up, "How's he doing that?" So if anybody wants to fly, you lean in the wind, trust it, lift your feet and you'll go up in the sky.
We're giving a lot of great advice to the kids.
Drink some peach schnapps, get yourself a Japanese porn tape and start jumping off buildings — you'll be able to fly, trust me.
The last one: would you rather kick your mom in the face–
I'll go with the second answer, whatever it is.
This is another one where you may have to listen to the end of it. Would you rather kick your mom in the face or go to second base with your dad?
Well, I guess I'd rather go to second base with my dad. I don't want to kick my mom in the face. Is first base holding hands? I'll hold his hand all the way over to second base.