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Brian Regan on fatherhood, college football, empty stages and private jet captains

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

The Deseret News recently spoke via telephone with comedian Brian Regan, who will perform the first of 10 shows at Salt Lake City's Abravanel Hall on Jan. 18. Regan talked about everything from fatherhood to his college football career to why jokes about limousines and private jet captains aren't funny. He also explains why he tries to be more than just a "clean" comic. After all, an empty stage is clean, he says. Read the story here.

The following is a transcript of the majority of the phone interview:

Deseret News: Are you thinking of buying a house out here in Salt Lake? You're going to be here long enough.

Brian Regan: A lot of friends of mine who are from Florida, and that's where I grew up, are looking at my web page and saying, "What the heck is going on there in Salt Lake City, Brian?" It might not be a bad idea. I haven't looked into buying a home there yet, but I'm certainly flattered to be able to spend some time there.

How unusual is it to be doing 10 shows in one stop?

Oh, it's very unusual. I could lie and try to suggest that this happens everywhere. "Oh, it's always 10, 15 shows that I'm adding. It doesn't matter where I go, whether it's Des Moines, Iowa, or …"

No, it's definitely something that's unusual, but I'm quite honored to be able to have enough of a following there to be able to warrant it. But … listen, in addition to counting the shows I'm counting the goose bumps I have as a result of it.

Do you consider yourself to have a significant following here compared with elsewhere?

Oh, yeah. I don't want to sell myself short. I'm fortunate to have a following throughout the country. It might not be quite as avid as in the Salt Lake City and surrounding areas. But I do OK in a number of places around the country. Salt Lake City and all of Utah, obviously it's a tad stronger. So it's interesting to me. I love doing stand-up and I love when anybody else seems to take a liking to what I do. But, clearly, 10 shows is unusual.

You've spent some time here and you've seen the reaction from some audiences; why do you think your comedy resonates so much?

Clearly there's a community in Utah that gravitates towards cleaner comedy. So I know that that's part of it. I'd like to think that it's more than that, because I'm not the only clean comedian out there. 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. But I think the clean part weighs into it certainly. But I also try to be careful not to gear my comedy … I try not to figure out what audiences are looking for.

I just do what I like to do, and if there are people out there who happen to also like it, then all the better. I've always liked doing this kind of comedy just because it interests me. I'm not necessarily Mr. Wholesome. I just like it as a comedic choice. It's sort of like a photographer might choose to work in back and white as opposed to color. It's a medium. To me, clean is a medium. It's a way of doing something. That clearly is something that's important to a lot of people in Utah. Like I said, I don't do it for that reason. I don't do it to get people to come to shows. But if people seem to like that, well then, cool.

There's not a whole lot of comedians out there — there are some — but there's not a whole lot who parents can feel completely comfortable sending their kids to or letting them listen to. What is it about you — your life, your upbringing, whatever — that makes you interested in that medium of comedy?

That's a good question. I don't know. I wasn't always squeaky clean as a comedian. When I first started, I had a handful of jokes that would have a four-letter word here or there. Or I might touch on a topic that some people might be surprised by. But I was always about 95 percent clean anyway. It's hard for me to know exactly why that's what interests me.