Brian Regan remembers playing a high-school football game at the Miami Orange Bowl. "It was fun," he says, "until an opposing defensive back cracked my collarbone in half."
Regan, a veteran standup comedian who will perform Thursday, June 19, in Coral Springs, often shares such stories from his South Florida childhood in his routine. Some of these memories concern his many siblings, others the hot weather. One even addresses his attempts to nurture a sick coconut tree.
"I remember coming home from school to see a big orange X spray-painted on it, meaning it had to be cut down because of lethal yellowing disease," Regan says in a recent phone interview. "I dread the day someone spray-paints a big orange X on me."
Regan, long considered a comic's comic, is known for performing clean, eschewing vulgar words and subject matter. Additional excerpts from the interview follow.
Do you have any favorite spots in Miami? Do you like Cuban coffee?
Whenever I visit Miami, I always include two stops: Frankie's Pizza and Arbetter's Hot Dogs, both on Bird Road. As far as Cuban coffee, I remember some Little League baseball teammates and I convinced the guy working at a little Cuban market to give us each little shots of Cuban coffee before a big game. We each hit nine home runs.
You have seven siblings. Was life hectic in your household?
Getting ready for school was quite hectic. We had two bathrooms. At one point, my dad used an egg timer to time our showers. If you weren't done when the timer was done, the next naked kid hopped in with you.
You told Jerry Seinfeld on "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" that you got into comedy because you could sleep in. What are some other reasons?
Well, certainly getting laughs feels good. And it feels good to make someone else feel good. And if someone gives you a dollar or two for making someone else feel good, then that feels even better.
What is the most rewarding part about it?
I love being able to trust the laughs. A roomful of people won't fake laugh. If you're getting laughs, you know you're connecting.
Your peers have dubbed you the "comic's comic." Do you agree?
It would sound too self-serving for me to weigh in on that. But I must say I am truly honored when comedians like what I do. I'd rather be a comic's comic than a comic's plumber.
What's the strangest thing that has happened to you while on the road?
One day, early in my career, I jumped on a Greyhound bus to get to my next gig. The driver said, "All the seats are taken. You're going have to sit on the floor." I literally sat on the floor of the bus, in the aisle, between people sitting in their seats. I remember thinking to myself, "I'm jealous of people sitting in bus seats."
You're known for your clean comedy. What's your opinion of comics who feel they must use vulgarity in their acts in order to be funny?
For the most part, I believe everybody should do whatever they want to do. But I just like when comedy is funny. When my show is over, I want people to think my show was funny, more than think my show was clean. I often say to people, "An empty stage for an hour is clean. People aren't buying tickets for that."
What would you like to accomplish before the year is over?
I'd like to get some moles taken off my back.
Brian Regan will perform 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 19, at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts, 2855 Coral Springs Drive. Tickets cost $58.47. Call 954-344-5990 or go to CoralSpringsCenterForTheArts.com.