Brian Regan – The Palace Theater (Albany, NY), 5.8.15

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Sometimes I buy tickets to shows so far in advance that they kind of slip off my radar. They are usually on my calendar and hopefully I’ve put the tickets where they are supposed to go, but the date of the event kind of sneaks up on me and I’m not altogether prepared for the commitment. That’s what happened with the Brian Regan show last Friday; I’m pretty sure that I bought these tickets sometime late last fall and the show completely slipped my mind until it was pretty much the day of the show. I was so focused on my trip to Florida that I hadn’t really looked beyond that to see what else was on the agenda.

I also wasn’t that familiar with Brian Regan’s comedy. I’d heard his name bandied around a bit in the world of stand-up and several comedians that I really enjoy, like Jerry Seinfeld and Patton Oswalt, had really good things to say about him, but I’d be hard pressed to tell you any of his jokes or routines. Really the only thing that I knew about him going in was that he worked clean, so his material was OK for the whole family.

This is all to say that I was a little ambivalent about going to see this show – I hadn’t been looking forward to it at all and I wasn’t a Brian Regan fan. I was tempted to blow the show off, especially since a bunch of my friends were meeting for drinks and to watch some baseball. I just wasn’t sure if I was in the mood for this show and dealing with the hassle of finding parking. Not necessarily the ideal conditions for a night of stand-up comedy. Given those restraints, I wasn’t sure that I was going to get all that much out of the show.

I did generally enjoy Brian Regan and while my mood may not have been the most conducive for a night of laughter, I don’t think it that it ultimately had that big of an impact on my overall enjoyment of the show. This bigger issue, as much as there was one, was that his material was not necessarily a good fit with my comedy preferences. I can objectively say that Brian Regan is good at what he does, but his act overall just isn’t my cup of tea. I don’t need a comic to be raunchy and cuss at me all night to laugh, but I do tend to enjoy much more edgy material than is his bailiwick. Nobody’s fault – just not for me.

This is not to say that I didn’t laugh during Brian Regan’s set because I absolutely did chuckle on more than one occasion. He has a good stage presence and good delivery. He also punctuates his material with more physical comedy than I was expecting. He has a very expressive face and he uses that to his advantage, mugging it up for added emphasis. I was sitting close enough to the stage that I could see this first hand, but there was also a sizable video screen behind him so that the people in the balcony didn’t miss out.

His material reminded me a little bit of the type of stuff that Seinfeld would cover – people not shaking hands anymore, small talk at parties, the inability for people to agree upon the definition of “this Thursday” and “next Thursday.” It’s fairly relatable, but it also tended to focus on well-tread subject matters. These observations were funny, but didn’t necessarily feel all that fresh. I probably forgive that of Seinfeld because I love him, but when done by someone that I don’t have a natural affinity for it didn’t appeal to me as much. In fact, outside of one joke that particularly struck my funny bone, I had to really think to remember what any of the other material that he did that night. Doesn’t mean that the jokes were not funny, but they also didn’t strike me as very innovative. He’d be right at home on a network sitcom; his comedy isn’t religious at all, but it is very safe. You could bring your grandmother or children to the show with no worries.

It is worth noting that while I may have only mildly laughing through most of the set, everyone else around me was losing their minds. I was definitely the outlier here, as most people were totally into the show and thought it was hilarious. They obviously connected with the jokes far more than I did; in particular, a woman sitting behind me was practically out of breath from laughing so hard. I heard several people discussing that he was the funniest comic that they’d ever seen. So my guess is if you are familiar with Brain Regan and are already a fan, he totally lived up to expectations.

I’m always open to new experiences and so while I didn’t love Brian Regan as much as everyone else in the audience seemed to, I’m glad that I got to see him live and give him a chance. He may be “not for me” but I can appreciate that he’s good at his particular brand of comedy. I tend to enjoy comedy that pushes boundaries and is more inventive – think Louis CK, Amy Schumer, Jim Jefferies, etc. – and while adult subjects and crass language aren’t a prerequisite, it doesn’t hurt either. But I also think that it’s important to have diversity in comedy and Brian Regan definitely provides a funny alternative to the kind of comedians I generally get a kick out of. I had a fine time at the show, but I probably won’t make much of an effort to see Brian Regan again; he’s clearly good at what he does, but what he does just isn’t up my alley. His comedy is decidedly PG and I’m more of an R-rated kind of girl.

Brian Regan is currently on tour; check out his website for upcoming shows. He will do a live stand-up special for Comedy Central in September.

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