March 29 2017 05:48 PM

Brian Regan talks comedy, social media and ‘Star Search’

Comedian Brian Regan, a regular performer on late night talk shows, brings his latest tour to the Wharton Center next week.
Courtesy Photo

Comedian Brian Regan looks for the humor in life’s mundane moments. In an appearance on “Late Show with David Letterman,” he describes his frustration with a business named Feidler Roofing Co.

“How did he not think of Feidler on the Roof?” he asks. “‘My name is Feidler, I’m going to be on the roof — Feidler Roofing Co.’ Three in the morning, I’m tossing and turning. Should I call the guy tomorrow, or is this one of those things I need to learn to let go?”

Regan, 59, is known for his sarcastic, self-deprecating style of humor. The comedian, who brings his latest tour to the Wharton Center next week, sat down with City Pulse to talk about his start in comedy, social media and a recent trip to Lansing with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

So how did you get started in comedy?

I was in college when I decided I wanted to be a comedian. It was after I had switched majors from economics to communication and theater arts, and then I took a speech class in this new major. I used to try and make my speeches funny. I remember one of my first speeches getting the class to laugh, but more important, the teacher was howling with laughter. I thought, “I don’t think I’ve ever impressed a teacher in my entire life, so maybe I should pursue whatever this is.” It was a very bizarre notion. It was so outlandish that it made me passionate.

You appeared 28 times on “Late Show with David Letterman,” more than any other comedian since Letterman moved to CBS. What was that like?

Comedians want to get on “Late Show,” so to get on there once was a big deal for me. And then to be asked back for a second time, that was just as cool or cooler than the first. Like, wow, I must have done alright; they’re bringing me back. And then to do a third and a fourth … it was tremendous for me. To have someone like that who likes what you do and to get that national booster shot was huge for me.

There are so many outlets for comedians now. There are TV shows, social media, podcasts and everything else. Do you like that stuff, or is it overwhelming?

The world changes, and there’s no stopping it. Technology changes, entertainment changes, and you have to change with it. I have one foot in the old school. I like getting on stage and making people laugh. I like standup comedy as a craft. I’m not at the forefront of certain things, especially social media. I kind of scratch my head at all these new things.

A few years ago, I wanted to do some comedy clubs. I hadn’t done comedy clubs in a while. There was a local comedian, she was backstage, and she said, “Do you mind if we take a picture together so I can put it on my Instagram?” And I had never heard that expression before. But I didn’t want to sound stupid, so I said, “Of course! Let’s get this on your Instagram.” And then I had to look it up later.

Some things pop up, and they’re gone before I even start to do them. I talked to my manager, and I said, “We should start doing this Periscope thing.” And he says, “Nobody’s doing Periscope.” I had just heard about it, and it’s already come and gone, and nobody likes it.

You were in Lansing a few months ago to do a show for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. What was that like?

To do a show like that — I mean, what an honor. The word “wish,” that’s a pretty strong word. For some young person to write the word “wish” and include me on that list, that’s one of the highest honors there is. It made me feel tremendous to be able to fulfill that. I know he’s got a lot of challenges in his life, but he’s surrounded by a lot of love. To be able to participate in his quest toward recovery was a tremendous honor.

Do you have any projects coming out soon?

There are a couple of other things that aren’t nailed down yet, so I can’t say what they are. I learned that lesson a long time ago.

I auditioned for “Star Search,” and it was down in Florida. There was a cameraman who was taping all the guys who were auditioning, and this big giant audition tape would get shipped back to Hollywood. After my audition, I was walking by the cameraman, and he stopped me and said, “I think the producers liked you. You’re probably gonna be on ‘Star Search.’” So of course, I told everybody I knew that I was going to be on “Star Search.” And it didn’t pan out. They didn’t pick me to be on the show. I was living that story down for years. I should have never said a thing.

But I do have one thing coming out. Peter Farrelly — of the Farrelly Brothers who directed “Dumb and Dumber” and those movies — he directed a 10-episode series called “Loudermilk,” and he gave me a role in it. It’s coming out in the fall on the Audience Network. I think “Star Seach” comes on at 8 o’clock, and “Loudermilk” comes on at 8:30.

Brian Regan 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 6 $45 Wharton Center 750 E. Shaw Lane, East Lansing (517) 432-2000,