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A 30-year career in comedy is impressive in its own right.
A 30-year career in comedy using jokes that even Eagle Forum moms wouldn't find offensive is remarkable.
But Brian Regan has managed to steer away from off-color and political jokes as he sells out arenas across the country.
"I was always mostly clean when I started, but not 100 percent. You throw everything against the wall and see what works for you and what's natural for you. For me, it's everyday stuff," he said.
He doesn't believe his approach is better than that of comedians who crack sex jokes or drop curse words.
"I'm always careful to make sure that people don't feel like I'm coming in on a white horse and saying clean comedy is the best way to do it," he said. "Richard Pryor may have been the best comedian that ever lived, and he definitely had some four-letter words, but it was natural and organic to him. I think you should be doing what feels right for you."
What is right for Regan seems to be what's right for Utah audiences. His last two-night stand in the Beehive State sold out, and he returns to Vivint Smart Home Arena for another two nights starting Friday, March 18.
"I've been overwhelmed at the response I get in the audience. I like it when anyone likes me, but being able to play an arena, it gives you goosebumps even to think about it," he said. "The Utah audience has been so welcoming to me, and it means the world to me."
Comedians ranging from Jerry Seinfeld to Chris Rock to Patton Oswalt have lauded Regan and his work. While Regan says the praise from comedy greats "feels tremendous," he works hard not to try to please only one group. He says comedians who don't work to earn the respect of their fellow crafters are considered hacks, while those who only pander to comedians neglect their audience.
"I'm a creative pig. I want everyone to like me," he said. "I want the audience to like me, and I want other comedians to like me."
While Regan regularly records a video or audio session, he loves live shows for the immediacy of the humor.
"I love being able to think of a joke during the day, and then I can try it that night at 8 o'clock," he said. "I've been involved in a handful of projects working on a script or pilot, and it seems like the recognition or accolades come a long way down the road. I don't know if I have that kind of patience."
He recalled an interview with Johnny Carson after the comedy giant retired. Carson said the thing he missed the most about hosting a show was thinking of something funny and not having an audience to share it with later.
"There are no guarantees in life, and there is no guarantee that a room full of people are going to laugh at you. There is nothing more awkward than a whole roomful of people who aren't laughing when they're supposed to be. There's no place to hide that microphone stand is pretty thin," Regan said. "But that's what makes it so fun when it does work. If it worked 100 percent of the time, it wouldn't be nearly as exciting."
When • Friday and Saturday, March 18 and 19, 8 p.m.
Where • Vivint Smart Home Arena, 301 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $39.50-$64.50, March 18 show available only on flashseats.com, March 19 show available at all Smith's Tix outlets andsmithstix.com