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

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

Someone surprised me by giving me a tape. He's a guy I went to college with, and he and I had done this fake interview when I was a freshman in college, before I even thought about being a comedian. … We just pretended we were these characters and he was interviewing me. … He gave (this tape) to me just a few years ago, after I had been doing comedy for years. And in the tape, I could see that he kept trying to take the interview on this dark and dirty tangent. And I kept putting it back into a cleaner tangent in my answers. You know, I would go for the more absurd, conceptual kind of stuff and he was going for the darker, crude 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." 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, going, "Wow, man, that is proof that it's just something that has always interested me."

I read that you played college football. Where did you play at and what position?

I was going to give a silly, flippant lie. I was the No. 1 player in the league … No, I went to a small college in Ohio called Heidelberg College. It's now a university, but when I went there it was a college. And I was a wide receiver. And I loved it. As much as I liked stand-up now, that's how much I enjoyed playing football back then. In fact, I have dreams to this day about playing football. I wasn't able to play my senior year, and I have one year of college eligibility left. And I have these dreams, literally, where I'm like a grown man going back to college to play my final year of eligibility. I have the dream like every six months. It's very bizarre.

Can I find your stats anywhere online?

I don't know. I remember a statistician telling me that after the first game — I don't know, I don't want to sound like I'm patting myself on the back — but I had nine catches in think in my first game of, I don't know if it was my junior or senior year, and the Heidelberg statistician after the game said, "You know you're leading the nation in receptions, right?" And I said, "No way." And then I got hurt and I didn't catch any more passes. But I loved it. To me it was like an art form just like stand-up is, trying to find the open area in the defense and catch the ball and let these people come and knock the daylights out of you and see if you can't hang on to the football. It's thrilling for me.

Did you watch the game last night? (Alabama's 21-0 victory over LSU in the BCS national championship game.)

Oh, yeah, I watched the big game last night, the national championship. I love it. … It wasn't an offensive showcase, that's for sure. … It was kind of ugly, and I hope that it leads to a playoff system. … I think it's like 80 percent of fans say that they hate the current system, that they want a playoff system, and yet it can't get done. It's so ungratifying. It's like, let the No. 7 team in the nation have a shot at it. Let the No. 12 team in the nation have a shot at it. I would love to see a playoff system."

The first time I actually heard your comedy was on Dr. Katz on Comedy Central. And I think one of the first jokes I heard you tell was about you having a big family and having name tags at Thanksgiving dinner. How much can family life be a source for comedy?

In a big way. But I walk a tightrope when it comes to my own kids, because I don't want my children to feel like I'm following them around with a notebook. I want them to just be able to be kids and be themselves and feel like they have a certain amount of privacy. I don't want them feeling like all of their behavior and everything they say can ultimately be on display so Daddy can get another album together. But that doesn't mean I don't notice some things here or there that I might be able to draw from. But like I say, when I'm on stage, I want to be autobiographical enough where people can sort of have a sense of who I am and what I'm about. But I don't want to go too far in that direction, either, because I want the comedy to be from an everyman's perspective. I want people to say, "Oh, wow, I've experienced that." If you get too autobiographical, then it's about me and not about all of us. And I like the comedy to be about all of us, including the people in the audience."

What aspects of family life can be particularly funny or effective?