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Funny dad: Brian Regan talks about being a father, touring and keeping things normal

Published: Sunday, Jan. 15 2012 3:00 p.m. MST

Brian Regan's "All By Myself" CD

Read the transcript of the Deseret News interview with Brian Regan here.

Five minutes of comedy is all Brian Regan’s kids get.

When the stand-up comic takes his children on the road, which happens quite frequently, Dad doesn’t want his 13-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter watching more than five minutes of his shows each night.

He’s not screening them from anything. In fact, Regan is well-known for his brand of family appropriate humor.

He simply doesn’t want his kids to “burn out” on his comedy. After all, they’re an important audience.

“When I get off stage and they quote something that’s relatively new, it just means the world to me,” Regan said. “ … It means a lot to me to have my kids like what I do. And that’s why I limit them. But I don’t want to put that pressure on them to be a fan of mine. I want them to think I’m Daddy. I don’t want them to think of me as Daddy the comedian.”

This funny man, who has more than 20 appearances on “The Late Show with David Latterman” to his credit, takes stand-up very seriously. He’s also serious about staying grounded and helping his children lead a normal life — even as they join him on trips around the country to sold-out theaters.

“When I’m on the road with them, what’s more important to me than the show is going back to the hotel afterward and reading them a story and tucking them in bed,” he said.

Regan’s upcoming 10-show engagement at Salt Lake City’s Abravanel Hall, from Jan. 18-28, is one way to quantify his enormous popularity in Utah. The four originally planned performances quickly became 10, which Regan acknowledges is unusual. He recognizes that there is “a community in Utah that gravitates towards cleaner comedy,” but he hopes that’s not the only reason ticket sales are brisk.

“I’d like to think that it’s more than that, because I’m not the only clean comedian out there,” he said. “I’d like to feel that in addition to being clean, it’s also funny. I tell people that an empty stage for an hour is clean. People aren’t buying tickets for that.”

Regan doesn’t give the “clean comic” label a big, warm embrace because it was never a deliberate decision to target clean-leaning audiences. He’s not “Mr. Wholesome,” he says, and he can’t claim to have never told a joke with a four-letter word. He’s simply focused on humor that interests him — and it happens to be clean.

Regan had a validating experience recently when a friend from college gave him an old tape of the two performing a mock interview where they each played a character — filmed long before Regan had any aspirations of being a comedian. As he watched, he notice his friend taking the conversation in a darker, dirtier direction. Regan noticed himself steering it back to the more “absurd, conceptual kind of stuff.”

“And it interested me listening to this stuff, going, ‘Wow, that was my instinct even before I knew I wanted to be a comedian,’” he said. “So it comforted me to think, ‘Well, alright, then I’m going after my true path. It isn’t like I’ve chosen this for career reasons. I’ve chosen it because it’s what interests me.’ It was very gratifying to listen to that.”

Regan consistently refers to stand-up as an art form, referencing elements like cadence and delivery and emphasizing the need to keep the routines fresh and explore new avenues. He calls “clean” his medium.