It was interesting that last Monday’s McCain Auditorium appearance by comedian Brian Regan was sponsored by the K-State Union Program Council, and yet the average age of audience members had to be over 30. Whatever their seniority, though, the crowd came to hear stand-up, and stand-up they heard.
Pretty funny stand-up too. Regan, formerly a football player at Ohio’s Heidelberg College (where the mascot is the Student Prince) demonstrated a steady energy as he rolled through topic after topic. He got the biggest laughs with funny voices. He does different versions of two, a soft spoken tree-hugger and a good old boy with a little growl.
Adopting the dumb guy persona or responding to the patronizing faddist (“I read in this book…”), he pranced around the stage looking for logical but hyperbolic responses to everyday experiences. As Regan himself put it, “I have over-reaction fantasies.”
So close to the end of his 80-minute set (before a five-minute encore), he began telling us what he would have liked to have said when a hotel desk clerk asked him if he had made his reservations in another name. “Zippity Do Dah” was one of the possible alternates he wanted the foolish terminal operator to try searching for.
Probably Regan was at his best in the last 20 minutes of his performance. By then he had established an apparently unconscious self-deprecation that really made the jokes go. Comedy, we were once again reminded, depends on sympathy. So when he stumbled over the pronunciation of the word “sociability,” he was assuring himself of our sympathy and good will.
Regan claimed to be working on being more sociable, and admitted to being uneasy at parties. He told of seeing an acquaintance at a get-together and thinking the guy’s name might be “Winston.” “That’s one you wouldn’t want to miss on,” he asserted. So he had a friend stand beyond the acquaintance. If he called out “Winston,” and the fellow didn’t respond, Regan could pretend to be speaking to the friend.
He then said hello Winston. The acquaintance looked up. That wasn’t his name. Regan looked past him to his friend, who responded in a variety of the dumb yokel voice, almost as if he were surprised: “My name’s Winston.”
Dating, naturally enough, became a topic. He described in detail the directions he was given for picking up a woman on a night he didn’t suggest, three hours after his usual dinner time, 30 miles away and past a road detour and always full-parking lots to a place where there was no cell signal.
He explained why men invite each other to go fishing or hunting rather than to just go out together into the woods. His example of short term memory loss was hearing the microwave oven ding and not remembering having used it—what is that mystery meal? In restaurants, “Why is the catch of the day always fish?” And why had the man called his business “Fiedler’s Roofing” instead of “Fiedler on the Roof.”
My favorite image of the evening was an alternative to “shadow boxing,” “shadow polo.” After a really true bit about aisle hogs in airliners and some material about line jumpers and dancing conventions, Regan told about imagining the circumstances that led to a P.A. announcement in an airport about a man having left his walker at a ticket counter.
The warm-up comedian and M.C. was Gary Brightwell, who had some decent ideas, like an alarm clock that emitted the smell of cooking bacon instead of ringing an annoying bell. He invited smiles of recognition by invoking the “shaky card table” annex seating at Thanksgiving dinners.
Like Regan and, maybe, all traveling comedians, Brightwell was interested in air travel. He suggested that the first suitcases to appear on luggage go-rounds are always “decoy, teaser bags.” But maybe his best stuff had to do with the recently re-re-re-heated controversy about the name of the Washington NFL team. Are folks with too much credit card debt offended by the name of the San Diego franchise?
Generally speaking, then, us older folks had a pretty good time listening to the comedians that UPC had ordered in. I wonder what the young crowd at least week’s campus musical would have thought of the Brian Regan show. I think they would have been pleased.