Comedian brings family-friendly humor to RiverCenter

Brian Regan is one of those rare comedians working today — the whole family can go see his shows.

“I did one show where a family came backstage after the show, including the grandmother,” he said in a telephone interview last week. “She asked me, ‘How long have you been in vaudeville?’ Vaudeville. That really cracked me up. You could tell her grandchildren were kind of embarrassed. They said, ‘Grandma, it’s not called vaudeville anymore.’ ”

Regan lives in Las Vegas with his wife, Kathleen, and their 11-year-old son, and 7-year-old daughter.

The 48-year-old comedian complained about the 100-plus degree days in Vegas, but he knows the South can also be “sweltering.” He was born and reared in Miami, and frequently performs in the Southern states.

Regan says he’s been a working comedian since the late 1980s and used to be on the comedy club circuit around the country.

Regan has performed in Columbus before but his Oct. 3 performance at the Bill Heard Theatre will be his first in many years.

Not the class clown

Growing up, Regan says he wasn’t the funniest guy in class. He swears he wasn’t the class clown. Regan admits he’s the “small circle of friends” clown. “I like to laugh,” he said. “I’ve always been a good audience.”

Regan has been selling out venues across the country the past few years. He simply says he’s “very fortunate to have a following. It means a lot to me.”

The first major television appearance he made was on “The Tonight Show” with the late Johnny Carson.

Regan said comedians knew they “made it” when Carson would let them sit on the couch to chat after their jokes were finished.

When Regan was invited to be on the show, he was surprised how fast paced it was. He describes standing backstage, behind the curtain with butterflies in his stomach, listening to his introduction when all of a sudden, bam! The curtain opens and he’s expected to start his routine.

Regan made it on the couch but he makes it clear that it wasn’t because he “killed.”

That first appearance was during the first Gulf War, and Bob Hope was doing a USO show. Hope was supposed to be on the show, but the producer wasn’t sure if he’d make it.

The producer took Regan aside and said if Hope didn’t show up, Regan would get to sit and talk to Carson.

Regan remembers it took him 10 years to get a guest spot on the show and he had only 10 minutes to think about what to say to Carson.

Last Friday, Regan made his 23rd appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman.”

“I’m considered a regular on that show and it’s an incredible feeling,” he said.

A storyteller

Regan avoids political or topical humor. He doesn’t even dabble in popular culture. He says there are too many easy people he could make fun of and others do that.

Instead, he just tells funny stories.

He doesn’t really talk about his life and if he does, it’s to poke fun at himself.