That expression dream come true gets thrown around a lot but in that case it was true. At the time, every comedian's dream was to be on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. I was fortunate enough to get on there about a year before he retired. There are a lot of things I remember about that. One thing in particular was standing behind the curtain and hearing him introduce me. It's other worldly. It's surreal. You're listening to a man that you have been listening to ever since you were little staying up late and he's talking about me; he's introducing me. It's dreamlike. You're thinking it's some kind of bizarre dream. And he introduced me and the curtain opened and I couldn't believe I was walking out onto the stage. You're there to do stand-up but you're also experiencing the whole thing while it's happening. There's a lot of stuff going on in your head during those 5 minutes.
What are some other stand-out moments in your career?
I'm fortunate to have a regular thing on the Late Show with David Letterman; soon I'll be doing my 25th appearance. I take a lot of pride in the fact that they like me enough to keep having me come back. That means a lot to me. Being able to perform around the country still doesn't get old. Every couple of weeks I'm going to the airport and flying to all parts of the country. Being able to do stand-up for a living is pretty darn cool.
I know you have been doing theatres for a while now, what made you decide to transition from Comedy Clubs to theatre? Do you like it better?
In a way I like it better because people are 100% focused in a theatre but I still like the Comedy Clubs. In fact I'm doing a handful this summer to re-experience that. It's been about 7 years since I've performed in Comedy Clubs. I'm enjoying again the intimacy of that. Both experiences are fun in different ways.
Since this is Broadway World, I have to ask, have you been to Broadway plays?
I saw Beauty and the Beast when Donny Osmondwas playing Gaston. That was amazing because I found out that he knew who I was and invited me to see him perform. It was so bizarre to be sitting in a Broadway theatre and think I couldn't believe that I was there and that Donny invited me and wanted me to come backstage. It was a blast.
Do you think you will see more Broadway plays if the opportunity avails?
My major in college was Communication and Theatre Arts. I was in a handful of plays when I was in college. I liked that world. It was one of my first experiences being onstage as an actor. I feel weird even calling myself an actor. I was more of a student who was in a play every now and again. I loved the experience and I'd like to be able to do more of it.
What are some shows you did when you were in college?
I was in Dracula. I played Mr. Butterworth who was the comic relief role. It was one of my first times feeling that bug of getting laughs. I didn't have a big role. I went out and did my handful of lines and for whatever reason it just really seemed to connect. I remember thinking that it was wonderfully fun. I also played in King Lear. I played one of his sons. I played football in the first semester of each year and I was in plays the second semester each year. These things are 2 completely disparate worlds and it was weird because guys on the football team had no idea I was in the theatre and people in the theatre department had no idea I played football. I liked having my feet in 2 distinctly different worlds.
If you had to give this all up tomorrow, what would you do?
Hopefully it would be something creative. When I was in college I had a cartoon strip and a humorous advice column. I remember trying to get my cartoon strip syndicated. I think I sent examples of my cartoon to one syndication company. They sent me a rejection letter and I wasn't experienced enough back then to realize that you don't just give up. I figured that was all, I couldn't be a cartoonist, here's the rejection letter. Maybe I would go back into cartoons or make videos or something, but I would think it would have to be creative because that's what interests me.
Any advice for someone wanting to be a stand-up comedian?
You need to have passion. That's true for a lot of things you want to get into. It's not an easy road especially at the beginning. It takes a while to get good so you have to endure a lot of bad shows and bad nights. If you're not willing to go through that, you probably shouldn't get into the business. But if you have the passion and are willing to ride out the ride both the ups and downs, it can be thrilling.
Brian Regan will be appearing at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio, Texas on August 18, 2012. Tickets are available by going to their website.
Photo credit: Brian Friedman