Interest of Conflict

Brian Regan, who brings his comedy to the Aronoff Center Thursday, has started to mix his observations about daily life with jokes about world events. Warning: Fans of Kim Jong-un may not like it.

click to enlarge Comedian Brian Regan - PHOTO: Joe Henson
PHOTO: Joe Henson
Comedian Brian Regan

It’s Brian Regan against the world, or at least that’s how it seems when he’s on stage. 

“Years ago I remember talking to my mom,” he says by phone from his home in Las Vegas. “I think she was talking about my emergency-room bit.” One of his most popular, it’s the story of how he once had to take himself to the emergency room when he was having stomach pains and faced all manner of obstacles getting treatment — from having to drive himself there to convincing the hospital staff that his situation was pretty serious.

“My mom was very complimentary, saying, ‘It was such a great routine that you got out of such a bad experience,’ ” he says. “She was suggesting that maybe if I had more bad experiences, I could create even more bits like that. I don’t want to do comedy that bad. I don’t want to live a miserable life to make great comedy. I’d rather live a wonderful life and have no comedy.”

Still, Regan — who performs at the Aronoff Center for the Arts on Thursday — has to be aware of situations in a way that’s different from most people.

“As you go through life, you tend to not only experience things normally but also comedically, if they happen to be funny,” he says. “I don’t know that I’m actively looking for funny things when I’m out and about. I just see something, experience something or read something and go, ‘Hey, that’s funny.’ It can end up being a bit.”

Most often, those things come from awkward or uncomfortable moments. “When everything is perfect and fine, there’s no comedy there,” he says. “Comedy has to come from difficult, weird or strange moments.”

In the past, that has involved his daily interactions with people, places and things. But lately, he’s started to talk about what’s going on in the world.

“I have recently started to venture into topics that are surprising to some people,” he says. “In my last Netflix special, I did a handful of jokes about politics and (North Korean leader) Kim Jong-un and subjects like that. But I like to do jokes that both sides can laugh at. It’s an interesting tightrope. Sometimes the mere subject can turn people off.”

While there are likely very few Kim Jong-un supporters seeing his act, other political topics can be dicey. However, if Regan thinks he has a good joke, he’ll tell it: “I don’t want to be afraid of bringing up a subject.”

For example, he has a bit about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “It’s about how it’s been going on for years,” Regan says, “and I suggest that maybe a good dad could solve it, because good dads can solve a problem in 30 seconds. So, this dad shows up and gets to the root of the problem.”

“I’m sure somebody, somewhere could take offense to it,” he adds. “But I don’t want to be afraid of breaking into new territory just because someone somewhere might not like a joke. You have to push the boundaries a bit.”

It’s an American tradition to make fun of the president, politics aside.

“I used to like when George W. Bush would say all this goofy stuff and people would show clips of it,” Regan says. “But I liked the man; I thought he had a good heart and cared about the country. It’s fun to laugh at people’s weaknesses as long as it’s done good-naturedly.”

Everything is fair game by Regan’s reckoning.

“I like the fact that there are comedians that want to go after Trump,” he says. “That’s their agenda and there are audiences out there for that. But I also like the kind of comedy that doesn’t necessarily take that route. I want everything to be represented comedically, artistically and politically. So if this person is over here making fun of the color blue, then I want someone over here to make fun of the color red. I want everything to be hit.”

Brian Regan performs at Aronoff Center for the Arts, 650 Walnut St., Downtown at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Tickets/more info: cincinnatiarts.org.

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