Laughter is the Best Medicine

Brian Regan: “How to Make People Laugh” | Talks at Google

Welcome to Talks At Google. I’m here with
comedian Brian Regan. BRIAN REGAN: Hi, everybody. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Give
him a round of applause. BRIAN REGAN: Hi. [APPLAUSE] I haven’t done anything yet. But I’ll take that. Thank you. [LAUGHTER] MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
Yeah, Brian’s been touring all over the
country in the Midwest here for a little while. He was gracious enough to stop
by Google for your first visit, I understand, to Google. BRIAN REGAN: Yes. Yes. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: All right. Do you use Google? BRIAN REGAN: I don’t
You know what it is. BRIAN REGAN: No, of course. Yes, I use Google quite often. Years ago when I first
had the internet, I was amazed that you could find
something with a search engine. So the first one I
used was Ask Jeeves. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
I’ve used that– BRIAN REGAN: I don’t know
if that exists anymore. And then, somebody said
you should try Google. And this was years back. And I was like, Google? So then, I did Google. And of course, it’s so much
more efficient than Ask Jeeves. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Well
thank you for the compliment. [LAUGHTER] No, that’s wonderful. BRIAN REGAN: Yes. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
Can you teach us a little bit about your
comedy through some questions I’m going to ask you? I’m taking an online class
from Steve Martin now, a master class. So can we turn this into a mini
master class from Brian Regan? BRIAN REGAN: Yes,
but I’m not going to be able to top anything that
Steve Martin has instructed you. [LAUGHTER] MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: He was
part of your inspiration. Correct? BRIAN REGAN: Yeah. I was always a big
Steve Martin fan. Even before I wanted
to be a comedian, I just I loved his comedy. Very silly. His character was silly, but
the comedian was very smart. So you laughed on two levels. It was a double barrel thing. You laughed at the
goofiness of the character, but you laughed
at the brilliance of the guy who created it. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
That’s very rare to find. BRIAN REGAN: But with
my kind of comedy, I just lacked the
brilliant part. People just– [LAUGHTER] –laugh at the goofiness of
the character and that’s it. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Oh, come on. Well let’s take it back to
when you were maybe a child. Were you funny as a kid? Did you make people laugh
at dinner parties, things like that? BRIAN REGAN: Well not
at dinner parties. I was kind of shy. I would make my close friends
laugh and my family laugh. But if I was in school
or something like that, I was a little afraid to put
myself out there, you know. One of the first time I
remember getting a laugh was inadvertently. I was in a car with our family. And we were passing
a funeral procession. And I asked my dad if he had
ever seen a real live dead man. And uh– [LAUGHTER] I wasn’t even
trying to be funny. And my dad laughed
for like 20 minutes. And I’m like, what just
happened there, you know. And then, I put it
together and I was like, oh, that makes no sense. And so I started thinking,
oh, those kind of things get reactions. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Right. The things kids say can be
pretty brilliant sometimes. BRIAN REGAN: Yeah, or dumb. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Or dumb. Yeah, both. And you went to college
in Ohio, I understand. Heidelberg College. BRIAN REGAN: Heidelberg
College in Tiffin, Ohio. Has anybody heard of that? AUDIENCE: No [LAUGHTER] BRIAN REGAN: I didn’t
even hear of it until my sophomore, junior year. [LAUGHTER] Very small school. It is now a university. My college graduated
before I did. They went from a
college to a university. I wish they still call
themselves a college. I thought that was
quainter and all that. But yeah, I went there for
longer than I should have. And I ended up dropping out of
college to try stand-up comedy. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: OK. And you went to college
to play football. Is that correct? BRIAN REGAN: Yes. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: OK. And what brought you over
to the comedy passion? BRIAN REGAN: I think after
two days of playing football, the coach took me
aside and went, hm. [LAUGHTER] There might be something
you’re more qualified for. [LAUGHTER] No, actually, I was a pretty
decent football player. And I went to college thinking
I was going to be an accountant. And after some
accounting classes, my eyes would glaze over
in the back of my head, like, I just can’t do this. And I went and I talked to
my college football coach. And I said, I’m kind
of disillusioned. I said, I love playing football. But I don’t know why I’m here
academically or whatever. And he said, you’re
a pretty funny guy. You make everybody laugh
on the football team. [LAUGHTER] I don’t know if that
was a compliment or not. And he said, you
might want to consider the communication in
theater arts department, which when I was a kid was,
like, a million miles away from anything I would
have ever even considered. I wasn’t like a
narrow minded jock. But that was not
part of my world. So I switched majors. One of my first classes
was a speech class. And I used to try to
make my speeches funny. They were a class
about this size. And when I got the class
laughing, it was like– and more importantly,
we had a teacher, this heavyset woman who
sat in the back, who would howl at my speeches. And I never had a teacher
like anything I did ever. And to have this teacher
be into what I did, and plus getting
the class laughing, I remember walking back to
the dorm after these speeches. And I was, like,
walking on a cloud, man. I was like, whatever that– I don’t feel like this when I
walk back from biology class, you know. [LAUGHTER] So I knew whatever that
was, I needed that. I needed that in my life. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
That’s awesome. Were you very physical in
your comedy like you are now? Was it drawn out facial
expressions and physicality? BRIAN REGAN: When I first
started, I tried everything. I mean, I just threw
everything at the wall to see what would stick. You know, I didn’t know
where to come from. I even had props. But I had props that
I didn’t even need. I was so bad at being
a prop comedian. Like, I would talk
about a product. I did a joke about a cereal
called 40% Bran Flakes. And I would say, hey, have
you guys seen that cereal 40% Bran Flakes? And then, I pulled it out
of a bag and showed it– [LAUGHTER] MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
You brought the flakes. BRIAN REGAN: –to the audience. And they’re probably like, we
know what it looks like, buddy, you know. [LAUGHTER] MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
Sounds like it worked. BRIAN REGAN: Yeah. I had a bag of
unnecessary props. I was the unnecessary
prop comic. [LAUGHTER] And I thought, just
saying 40% Bran Flakes is enough for these people. Anyway. So I tried everything. The face stuff though, I never
really thought about that. That just, kind of,
came along the way. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
Just comes natural. Great. Were your parents
supportive of your decision to go into comedy? BRIAN REGAN: Um,
like I told you, I dropped out of
college to do it. I was 10 credit hours
away from graduating. Probably one of the
most challenging phone calls I ever had to
make to my mom and dad. And it felt, to me, like they
were probably hearing, hey, I want to join the circus. [LAUGHTER] But they were surprisingly cool. Cool in a good way. They said what most
parents should say. They were like, well, you’re
so close to graduating. Maybe you should
get your degree, and then you could
pursue comedy. But it’s your choice,
and whatever you do, we support you. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
That’s wonderful. You’re lucky. BRIAN REGAN: Yeah, I was. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: From that
point on, did it work for you? Were you successful, from your
perspective, when you started? BRIAN REGAN: Well not
right off the bat. I mean, it takes a while. I started at this comedy
club in Fort Lauderdale. And you know, I
auditioned a few times. And then, when I
passed my audition, they would let me go on every
night at the end of the show. They don’t do it like this at
any other club in the world that I know of. They would let the
local comedians go on after the good comedians. [LAUGHTER] MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: They
were opening for you. BRIAN REGAN: Yeah, they
were opening for us. And the club owner wanted
a clear line in the sand because he didn’t want
the audience confused. So after the good
comedians were done, there were like
three co-headliners. Then, he would have the
MC go on stage and say, all right folks,
that’s it for our show, meaning the good part
of the show is over. That’s it for our show. We do have some local comedians
who are just getting started. If you’d like to hang around
to give them an audience, you’re more than welcome to. So that was the environment
that we went up to. [LAUGHTER] So when I first started, I
was always going on stage to people walking out. And I developed a whole
routine about people leaving. And I would kill. I had this whole thing about
the doors going and you know. And then, I got
pretty good at that. And then, they bumped me up. They were gonna let me
open the show one time. And I get on stage
and I’m like– [LAUGHTER] Nobody’s leaving! I didn’t know what to say. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
You’re not used to seeing the front of people. BRIAN REGAN: Yeah, they’re
all looking at me, like, well go ahead. And I’m like, well
you got to go! [LAUGHTER] So then I had to learn how
to talk about other things. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
So from that point, did you start visiting
other comedy clubs once your confidence was up? You were– BRIAN REGAN: I worked at that
one comedy club for 2 1/2 years. I went on, basically,
every single night. The guy who passed me,
he said, audition night was just Monday
night of each week. And when I passed auditions–
passed meaning I was approved– he said, you can go
on on other nights. And I said, I don’t know
what the protocol is here. But what I be
abusing the privilege if I went on every single night? And he’s like, I never
had anybody ask that. He goes, you want to go
on every single night? I said, if I can. He goes, sure. So I went on every single
night for 2 and 1/2 years. And then, from then, I
went out on the road. And I was fortunate
that comedy exploded right around the time I was
ready to go out on the road. Comedy clubs started opening
all around the country. So I just was able
to ride that wave. I was able to get gigs not
because I was any good. Comedy clubs needed comedians. If you could stand on stage
for 30 minutes without melting, you could work. [LAUGHTER] So that was my pitch. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
Were you more dedicated than other
comedians if you wanted to go on every night? Do you feel like you’re a
harder worker than, maybe, some other comedians? BRIAN REGAN: Yeah. Well I don’t want to
pat myself on the back, but I sensed that at the time. I remember there were
other local guys that would look at the audience. And sometimes it
was a bad audience, it was a rough audience, and
they would pick and choose. And they would go, uh, I
don’t want to go on tonight. And I’m like, I want
to go on every night. I want to learn every night. I want to learn
something, you know. If it’s a bad audience, I don’t
care if I get zero laughs. I’m going to learn something
from the experience. And then, I’ll apply
that the next night I have a bad audience. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
Would that be one of your number one takeaways
for aspiring comedians? Go on as frequently as
possible, no matter what? BRIAN REGAN: That’s one. Another thing I tell
people if they’re just trying to get into
comedy is I always feel it’s a mistake
to try to figure out what the audience finds funny. You should be saying
what you think is funny. You shouldn’t be trying to
push buttons that get laughs. You should be sharing
what’s in here with them. And if they agree, then great. That’s you’re act. You know what I mean? But once you cross that
line of, what do they want, then what’s the point? You know, it seems
like a waste of time. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Mm hm. Picture yourself
in the audience. BRIAN REGAN: That’s what I do. If I’m having a bad show,
I imagine myself sitting in the middle of the audience. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
Making yourself laugh. BRIAN REGAN: And then, I
could just make me laugh. [LAUGHTER] The problem is I usually
end up heckling myself. [LAUGHTER] You stink. But anyway because I
know I can do that. I know I can make me laugh. I’m not qualified to
make a roomful of people laugh all the time. But I know what
I think is funny. So it calms me down to
go, well, this I can do. Clearly, I can’t figure
out what these people are– [LAUGHTER] So. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Well
you must have something in common with us because a
lot of us are laughing too. BRIAN REGAN: Well I mean,
I get fortunate that some of the things I think of other
people also think is funny. [LAUGHTER] Hence, this career. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
Tell us a little bit about the writing process. How do you come up
with new material? How much time do
you spend on it? BRIAN REGAN: I
always like to write. that’s one of my favorite
things is doing new stuff. I was just talking to
the guy I was working with this last weekend because
I was going to be doing some new stuff in my show. And I said, that’s my favorite
moment coming up to a bit that it’s like running
on virgin snow. You know, you’re
making new footprints, and you don’t know
what’s going to happen. You don’t know if
they’re going to laugh. If they do laugh, you don’t know
where they’re going to laugh. You’re just starting a brand
new baby joke, you know. And it might get nothing. And there might be
nothing to it at all. But if there’s something
there, then you get to do it night after
night, and play with it, massage it, and get
it better and tighter. And I just love the process. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Do you
have a test audience, friends, or anyone that you
run your jokes by? BRIAN REGAN: No. Always regular audience. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
Always live on stage? BRIAN REGAN: Yeah. Yeah. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: OK. And you performed last
night in Toledo, correct? BRIAN REGAN: Mm hm. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
How did that go? BRIAN REGAN: Not
to show off but– [LAUGHTER] Yeah, I perform in
cities like Toledo. [LAUGHTER] Toledo’s a cool place. I like performing everywhere. I really do. I like big cities. I like little cities. I like medium sized cities. Speaking of medium, my daughter,
when she was a little girl, this is when I realized that she
didn’t quite know what I did. She said, daddy, I realized
I like three kinds of dogs. She was, like, five. And I said, oh, what’s that? She goes, I like small dogs. I like large dogs. And I like comedian dogs. [LAUGHTER] And I thought, my daughter
Have you ever performed for kids at an
elementary school? BRIAN REGAN: Not really. I do perform where kids
are in the audience. It’s a tricky thing. I hate the term. I hate the word. But there’s no other
way to describe it. I work clean. But people get the wrong
idea when they hear the word. They attach a connotation
to it that I’m not a fan of, you know. They think it might be something
that they’re not interested in. But because I work clean, people
will bring their kids sometimes to the audience. And that didn’t happen until
I got out of comedy clubs and started playing in theaters
because in comedy clubs, you have to be 18 or 21,
depending on the state. And the first time I
started playing in theaters, I’m backstage, and people came
back, there’s kids out there. And I’m like, really? And I had a CD
out that, I guess, had kid oriented jokes on it
about me playing Little League baseball and stuff like that. So I try to be
respectful of the fact that people might
bring younger people. But I also want to make it clear
that it’s not a kiddie show. You know what I mean? I’m not twisting balloon
animals on stage. [LAUGHTER] Now I feel like I’m
making fun of people who twist balloon animals. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: I
make balloon animals. BRIAN REGAN: It’s
a wonderful career. [LAUGHTER] The reason I don’t
do it is I just can’t do it like you do it. It’s a gift. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
That’s better. BRIAN REGAN: So anyway. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Do you have
a favorite venue to perform at or a favorite show? I watched your Radio City
Music Hall as an example. Was that one of the
highlights of your career? BRIAN REGAN: That were
certainly a big thing to be able to do that. I had lived in New York
City for a few years when I was trying to make
the comedy thing continue to happen. And I never even
saw a show in there. I mean, obviously,
I knew of the venue. It’s iconic. And then, to be able to do a
show there was pretty cool. And it was a live special
for Comedy Central. Comedy Central had never
done a live special before. And I pitched that to them. And they were like, all
right, let’s give it a shot. So it was really
something else, yeah. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: How do the
networks like Comedy Central decide to do a show like that? Do they actually send people
out to watch your shows? Or is it all word of
mouth from the industry? BRIAN REGAN: Well no. The people who come out are
buying tickets to see the show. I hope that’s what happened. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Of course. [LAUGHTER] BRIAN REGAN: I’d hate
to think they just got a bunch of audience fillers. But no, it’s in front
of an audience of people who want to see my show. And they just happened
to film, you know. But the live thing was
pretty scary, you know. Not scary. That was too strong a word. But it was a challenge because
usually when you do a special, you do more than one show. And if you mess up
a joke in one show, you can pull the better
version from another show and cobble it together. But live, every moment
had to be on the money. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
I think it went well. I didn’t see any
disasters or anything. BRIAN REGAN: Oh,
well I appreciate it. I messed up a few things. But I was able to fix
them in the moment. Like, I left out a
punch line of one bit. Then, I goofed up a transition. But you know, I’ve done it
enough where it’s like, OK, I’ve got to fix
this immediately. And then, I fixed
it and moved on. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: I
think a lot of people don’t try what you
do because of nerves and fear that they’ll freeze up. Have you ever frozen up on
stage and not known what to say? BRIAN REGAN: Yes, I have. I’ve had some
horrible experiences. [LAUGHTER] Absolutely terrible. I had one on Letterman. I did Letterman. And I was very fortunate. They had let me on that
show a number of times. And usually, I would
just do stand-up. But occasionally,
I would do panel– meaning this– in
addition to the stand-up. And on this one episode,
I did the stand-up. It went well. I was happy with that. I go and sit down and do panel. And they do a pre-interview,
which we haven’t done. All of this is right off the– [LAUGHTER] They do a pre-interview. And so the pre-interview
was Dave Letterman was going to ask me if I’ve
been taking care of myself. And then, I was going
to go into a routine about going to the doctor. So I did the stand-up. I go sit down. He said some nice things. He goes, so are you
staying in shape? [LAUGHTER] That’s not are you
taking care of yourself. And I’m trying to
figure out in the moment how do I get from
that to eye doctor. [LAUGHTER] And went, am I staying in shape? You know, and I just kind
of, like, hummed and hawed. And then, I took a sip of water. And I’m like, get
the eye doctor! Get the eye doctor! [LAUGHTER] And he’s looking at me like,
what the hell’s the matter, you know. And I said, yeah, yeah. I’m staying in shape. And then, I said, I recently
went to the eye doctor. [LAUGHTER] And he said, well,
that’ll keep you in shape. [LAUGHTER] MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
Tough transition, man. [LAUGHTER] BRIAN REGAN: And then, I
did my eye doctor routine. And the whole time I’m going,
man, that looked horrible. It just looked terrible. So those things
will happen, yeah. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Do
you re-watch your shows or performances after? BRIAN REGAN: I never
watched that one. [LAUGHTER] No, I watched that
one to learn from it. But if I do a TV thing, I will
watch it once, maybe twice. I don’t like watching
myself, you know. I like listening. I tape my show
every night, audio, and I listen because
I’m working on jokes. I’m working on the words, and
the beats, and the moments. But the watching part,
I’m not that into. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: So you
listen for the laughter. Are there are certain things in
particular that gear you off? BRIAN REGAN: Yeah. Like go what’s a better
way of saying this? What’s a better way of
saying that, you know. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Do you
have a favorite joke or topic that you like to perform? BRIAN REGAN: Uh, I’m not gonna– I went to the eye doctor. [LAUGHTER] I like to keep switching
up what I’m talking about. Lately I’ve been doing– well the reason is,
most people, they find out something that
works for themselves, and then they
write towards that. They work towards that. It’s like, oh, people
see this about me. So I’m going to do more
of that kind of thing. And I’ve always resisted that. I’ve always written away from– as soon as I feel like I’m
being defined a certain way, I write away from that,
which has probably slowed me down in terms of
career because I don’t want it easy for somebody
to hang their hat on what I do. Oh, he’s the guy that does this. I don’t want to be that. I want to be who knows
what he does, you know. For a while, I did a lot of
jokes about feeling stupid. You know, feeling
stupid fantasies. And I would go over
the top with them. You know, like saying
you too when you get out of a cab at an airport. You know, the driver
goes, have a nice flight. And you go, you too. too, you have a nice flight too. So I had jokes like that. [LAUGHTER] And then, I would start
reading in reviews, oh, Brian’s the guy who
feels stupid all the time. And I’m like, all right, I don’t
want to be that all the time. So I started writing
anger fantasies. Anger fantasies of
things that upset me. People trying to stick stuff
in the overhead rack in a plane that’s not gonna fit in there. And I would go, I would
run up there, hey, does that look like
it’s gonna fit? You have this much room. You have a dead yak. So I did anger fantasies. And then, people started
writing, oh, Brian always crouches down when he performs. He crouches and
prowls the stage. And I said, I’ll show them. I’m gonna walk erect. [LAUGHTER] You know, so I always
write away from what I think people are beginning
to figure out about me. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: People
try to corner you into– BRIAN REGAN: Yeah,
and I don’t want it. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Right. Do you have peers
that you collaborate with on your comedy? Jim Gaffigan? Seinfeld? Any of your– BRIAN REGAN: Well I
mean, we’re all friends, and we all admire each
other and what we all do. But we don’t necessarily sit
down and work on bits together. I did that one time
in New York years ago. A group of people said,
let’s all get together and work on each
other’s act, you know. And I was like, oh, OK. We all met at the Improv
Comedy Club in the afternoon. And each person had,
like, five minutes. And you would throw
out a brand new premise that you were working on. And then, all these
other comedians would come up with jokes
that could help you with your premise. And hopefully,
you had a premise. It would be like, hey, I
just joined a health club. And I feel inferior when
I go to the health club. I feel like everybody else is
bigger and stronger than me. And that’s your premise. None of the people
would write stuff. So we get to this
one guy, and he goes, I want to do something
about travel. [LAUGHTER] MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: OK. BRIAN REGAN: OK. That’s my premise. So he just wanted us to
write an act for him. [LAUGHTER] You know. Like, you need something
more than travel, buddy. And I’d rather come
up with it myself. I mean, that’s the fun is
when an audience laughs at something you thought of,
you’ve made a connection. If somebody else thought
of it, that’s boring to me. Then you’re just a
conduit, you know. I want the thought to
have come from my brain. And these people in the audience
are hearing it, and receiving it, and then that’s beautiful. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Hm. You’ve performed comedy
for how many years now? BRIAN REGAN: I’m
gonna date myself. I started on “The
Ed Sullivan Show.” [LAUGHTER] Since 1980. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: 1980. How have you evolved as a– BRIAN REGAN: Everybody’s
doing the math going this guy is 87 years old. [LAUGHTER] MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Yeah. Hopefully we can do
some math in here. [LAUGHTER] BRIAN REGAN: People
are Googling it. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Googling. [LAUGHTER] Sure. How was your– [LAUGHTER] BRIAN REGAN: I thought
that’s where I was. [LAUGHTER] MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
How has your style changed from maybe the first
half of your career to now? BRIAN REGAN: Now I do anger
fantasies, and I stand erect. [LAUGHTER] Well like I said,
when I first started, I threw everything at the wall. And then, I don’t know. I wouldn’t even know
how to describe a style. But I do like to change
what I’m talking about. I started to get
into that earlier. Lately, I’ve been doing stuff
about foreign policy and guns. I did this in case you
didn’t know what guns are. [LAUGHTER] I’m a visual– I told you I’m a bad prop comic. [LAUGHTER] What does he mean by gun? Oh, thank you. Thank you, comedian. [LAUGHTER] MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
Are you trying to influence more than just
getting people to laugh? BRIAN REGAN: I want to do jokes
that both sides can laugh at. But I want to sneak a
point of view in there. But I want it cagey enough were
people on the other side think that I’m on their side. [LAUGHTER] MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: So you can
appeal to a broader audience. BRIAN REGAN: Exactly. I want everybody laughing,
but only half are going, I know where he’s
really coming from. [LAUGHTER] MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: If
you weren’t doing this, what would you be
doing as a career? BRIAN REGAN: When
I was in college, I had a cartoon strip for
my college newspaper called “The Adventures Of Ned.” And Ned was a stick man. And he was the only living
stick man in a human body world. I wasn’t a good
enough cartoonist to draw the same thing twice. So I thought my
main character has to be a stick man because I
can’t draw the same guy twice. And then, he was
like a superhero, but he would mess up. Like, if four people
were falling out of a helium balloon
or something, he would catch three,
liked that about him that the world is
better because of him, but there’s a dead guy
on the ground, you know. [LAUGHTER] MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: So
you’d be doing that. BRIAN REGAN: I just tried
to get that syndicated. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: OK. BRIAN REGAN: And I put a
bunch of things together. There’s some book
that teaches you how to get stuff syndicated. And I sent it to this
syndication company. And they sent me a
rejection letter. And I didn’t realize I had not
yet learned the word tenacity. I was like, well, I guess
I can’t be a cartoonist. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
One rejection. BRIAN REGAN: Like, that was it. I just wrote that off instead of
going well, no, try over here. Try over here. I sent it out to one place. They sent me a rejection letter. And I closed that
part of my life off. [LAUGHTER] MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: So
that can be another tip– BRIAN REGAN: A good
lesson for kids, right? If somebody says
no, believe them! [LAUGHTER] MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Switch. Scott Adams, the
“Dilbert” cartoonist, actually has a similar story. Yet, he stuck with it. BRIAN REGAN: Ha! MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: You know. [LAUGHTER] BRIAN REGAN: That’s
the good ending! MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Yeah so– BRIAN REGAN: That’s the
good ending to that story. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
But he didn’t consider himself a great
cartoonist by any means. BRIAN REGAN: Oh, wow. That’s interesting. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Yeah. He has a good book out too. [LAUGHTER] BRIAN REGAN: So that’s
what I would be doing. I, hopefully, would
be a cartoonist. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Yeah, OK. We’d actually like to have some
Q&A with the audience here. So now is your opportunity. We’ll open it up. Is that OK with you,
Brian, have some Q&A? BRIAN REGAN: Sure. It is OK with me. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: All right. Go ahead. BRIAN REGAN: I think
it’s weird that he’s walking to a microphone
when he was literally four feet away from me. [LAUGHTER] He’s walking further away. No, no, no. I’m joking. I’m joking. AUDIENCE: I’ll go back. BRIAN REGAN: No, no, no. I know this is for people. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
For the recording. AUDIENCE: So I’m wondering– Google owns YouTube, as well. BRIAN REGAN: OK. I didn’t know that. AUDIENCE: And so I’m
wondering how YouTube has changed your comedy routines. And the reason I
ask is I know when you used to have a special,
then all of a sudden, you have to write
all new material. And now, every day,
your comedy routines are showing up on smart phones. So I’m wondering how you balance
that of creating new jokes when sometimes your jokes are showing
up the next day on YouTube. BRIAN REGAN: That’s
a great question. I like the idea of– I wish I could decide
when a joke was ready for public
consumption, you know. And it used to be I would
be working on a Letterman spot or a Tonight Show spot. So I was working on
those five minutes. But while I was
working on that, I was working on whatever
the next hour would be. A special or a DVD. And then, once I did an hour, I
considered that material done. And I started
working away from it and replacing it
with the new hour. But like you say– and we try to stop this–
we ask people not to video during shows. But you know, you get people– I had a woman, I’m
on stage one time. She was holding an iPad. [LAUGHTER] Like she was giving
it to me as a gift. She was sitting
right in the front. And she’s just holding it. And I’m like, are you
giving that to me? She goes, no, I’m taping you. [LAUGHTER] And I went, oh, well you
know that’s not cool, right? She goes, no, no, no. I like you. [LAUGHTER] MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
It’s a compliment. BRIAN REGAN: Yeah. So I say, well, I
appreciate that. But I would like to think
that these jokes are just for us here. I said, I like to
decide when they’re ready for the rest of the world. And she said, oh, I’m sorry. And she got embarrassed. I didn’t want to
hurt her feelings. Like, she truly didn’t know. But the bad thing about when
people tape and put it on is like I was saying earlier. Every joke is in a different
level of development. There are some jokes
that are brand new. They’re not ready yet. I’m in the process
of working on them. And if somebody tapes it
and puts it on YouTube– I don’t read comments anyway. But I used to, and
I don’t anymore. And somebody can
make a bad comment and go, well, that’s
not very funny. And it’s like, I
didn’t say it was. [LAUGHTER] It would be like you put
brownies in the oven, and somebody just walks
in and takes them out. [LAUGHTER] The oven didn’t ding yet! [LAUGHTER] I didn’t pull them
out of the oven. You pulled them out of the oven. It’s the same with somebody
putting a clip on YouTube when it’s not ready. And there’s a lot of
comedians trying to fight it and probably other
artists, as well. But there’s these bags
that people sometimes– you go to an event, and they
have these bags that you got to put your phone in. They won’t even let
you into the venue unless you put your phone in. And they lock it. You can have your
phone with you, but you can’t have access to it. I don’t go that far yet, but
we do ask people not to tape. But people do it anyway. You know, you see them. And you look at them. They’re like– [LAUGHTER] MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Right. Maybe you can call them out
and make fun of them publicly. BRIAN REGAN: Yeah, but then
it takes you off your thing. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Right. OK. Other questions? Thanks, Brian. AUDIENCE: I’m not gonna
talk into the dead mic. But you’re notorious,
as you already mentioned, for being clean. Do you have a favorite
dirty joke or a dirty joke that you enjoy? [LAUGHTER] MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
I didn’t set this up. [LAUGHTER] BRIAN REGAN: But I
don’t know if I can. I’ll try to do a clean version
of a joke I used to do. [LAUGHTER] I don’t even know
if this is possible. But there’s a bad word in it. And I used the bad word many
times in the punch line. So I used to do a thing
about diagramming sentences. I have this whole school
routine, which is out there. But I used to end it by
saying our teacher used to try to teach us how
to diagram sentences. And I said I grew up in Miami. And we had a new kid from New
York City who had moved down, and he sat next to me in class. And the teacher was
at the board saying, does anybody have
a sentence they want to try to
diagram for the class? And this kid next to
me said, go f yourself. [LAUGHTER] That’s the clean version. [LAUGHTER] So the teacher got flustered. And she was like,
oh, OK, Mr. Big shot. Why don’t you see if you
can come up here and diagram that for the class. And I said, that was a bad
move cause he knew how. [LAUGHTER] I said, he came up,
he grabbed the chalk, and he said, all right,
what is the noun? The noun is you. You don’t hear it,
so it’s understood. That goes in parentheses. Now what do you do? What is the action? [LAUGHTER] MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: All right. We got that. [LAUGHTER] BRIAN REGAN: F. Now you f whom? [LAUGHTER] Who receives that action? [LAUGHTER] Yourself. [LAUGHTER] Go is helping verb. It helps f. So and f, you go f,
it used to do well. And then, when I was doing my
first special ever on Showtime, that’s when I drew a
line because people were saying you have to close
with that because I closed with the school. I think I closed with
the school thing. They said, you have to do that. And I’m like, I
don’t want to do it because I just don’t
want to do all clean, and then end with that. You know, I want it
to be more consistent. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Right. Makes sense. BRIAN REGAN: That’s why
nobody knows who I am. [LAUGHTER] If I had done that, I
would be on parade floats. There’s the go f yourself guy. [LAUGHTER] MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: You
might not want that. All right. Next question. AUDIENCE: Well yeah. Well first of all,
thanks for coming out. We appreciate having you. BRIAN REGAN: You’re welcome. Thank you all for being here. AUDIENCE: Yeah, no problem. So at least I have and
I’m sure that you guys are familiar with the narrative
of mental health in comedians or loneliness with,
like, Robin Williams and other notable
cases like that. And I guess it makes
sense because, in my mind, you guys kind of just go out
and try to tell the world how you see it. People laugh at you and pay
money to laugh at you for that. But have you encountered that? And if you have, how has
the landscape of that within your profession
changed with people like Robin Williams in the last 37 years? BRIAN REGAN: Well Robin
Williams was brilliant. And it’s unfortunate,
obviously, what happened to him. I met him two or three
times just very briefly. He was very quiet
and sweet offstage. Like, it was almost deferential,
which was so bizarre. Like, he would say,
hey, how are you. And you’re like, you’re
the guy that gets on stage and does that? So everybody that has met him– and again, I only met
him a handful of times– has said that he’s just
a really sweet, nice guy. Who knows what’s going on in
people’s brains and people’s minds, you know. I don’t know if comedy has
more people with issues than other professions. I don’t know. I’m not a psychologist. But there is something weird
about wanting to get on stage and subject yourself to– it’s not a fun
experience to bomb. I’m sure that has nothing to
do with why he did what he did. I’m sure it was
much deeper issues. But I’m just talking about the
weirdness of getting on stage and wanting acceptance
from a roomful of people is, sort of a– that’s a weird
personality trait. So I don’t know. I don’t know if I
answered your question. AUDIENCE: Good enough. Thanks. BRIAN REGAN: All right. Thank you. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Thank you. Go ahead. AUDIENCE: So in Fort Lauderdale,
you went on, like, every night. Right? Like, seven days a week. When you’re going up and
you do your 5 or 15 minutes, are you doing new
material each time? Or you, like, the
door closing guy? If a crowd or people show up who
have heard your bit about them leaving, what was your
starting method for coming up with new material? And how often were you doing it? BRIAN REGAN: Well it’s hard to
switch it night after night. You know, your hope was that
the audience was different each night. But people did
start to come back. And I knew it was
time to go when– I used to have this bit where
I did a fake impression. And I would say, hey,
y’all like impressions? And people go, yeah. And I go, all right. I’d like to do this. And then, I would turn
around and pretend like I’m doing something with my hair. And I’ll go, you got
anything to eat, man? [LAUGHTER] You got anything to eat
because I’m starving? And then, they would
look at me weirdly. And I’d say, that’s
Randy Johnson. He lives across
the street from me. [LAUGHTER] So it sounds just like him. [LAUGHTER] So a lot of people think
it looks like him too. But I don’t think
it looks like him. But it does sound like him. So that was the joke. And then, it started to get
were some people would know. Like, I would go, you
got anything. to eat, man because I’m starving. And one night, a guy
went, Randy Johnson. I was like– [LAUGHTER] So I pretended like I didn’t
know what he was talking about. And I would go, huh? No, that’s Ed Brown. [LAUGHTER] He lives across
the street from me. [LAUGHTER] So that happened a few times. And then, one night I go,
you got anything to eat, man because I’m starving. And a guy goes, Randy Johnson. I went, no. And another guy went, Ed Brown. [LAUGHTER] It’s time to go on the road. [LAUGHTER] Excellent. Tony? AUDIENCE: So I
would sat at Google we’re a pretty politically
correct culture. But I bet a lot of
people in the audience also will laugh at stuff that is
probably politically incorrect or potentially offensive. And I’m kind of wondering
about that from your standpoint as a comedian. What is it that draws people in
sometimes to the material that is politically incorrect or
offensive that they wouldn’t in other parts of their life
necessarily endorse or be supportive of? BRIAN REGAN: Even though
I work the way I work, I think everything is fair game. I think every
topic is fair game. Every subject
matter is fair game. All words are fair game. But it all comes down to context
and what are you trying to say. And hopefully, you have a
good message at your heart. If it’s hateful, I support
your right to say it, but I’m not as into that
kind of comedy as somebody who might use
offensive language, or talk about tricky things,
but still has a good message. So it’s weird. I mean, we live in a climate
where a lot of people are afraid to say
certain things. But I think everybody should be
able to say whatever they want. I mean, I draw the
line at violence. And I draw the line at
destruction and stuff like that. But thoughts and ideas
should just be out there. And if you disagree, debate it. Win with your argument. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Great. Well, Brian, I think we’re going
to wrap up this interview here. BRIAN REGAN: We ended
on a super serious note. [LAUGHTER] MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
Do you want to, uh– BRIAN REGAN: I gotta slip on
a banana peel or something to close this out. [LAUGHTER] I feel like that’s when
you decided to wrap it up. Oh, he’s getting into
some scary territory. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ:
I’m like, oh. BRIAN REGAN: Thanks
for coming, Brian. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: The
kill switch on here. [LAUGHTER] Any last words of advice
for aspiring comedians watching this? BRIAN REGAN: If it’s
something you want to do, man, it’s in your
heart, go for it. And you’re gonna have bad shows. Don’t let that stop you. Just keep rocking and rolling. MARC DE SCHWEINITZ: Thank you. That’s been amazing. Thank you, Brian. BRIAN REGAN: Thank you, Mark. Thank you all very much. [APPLAUSE]

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