Judge Mike MacNeil has instituted a two-drink minimum at his place to bring the comedy club experience home.
"Some people look at creamed corn and ask why. I look at creamed corn and ask why not!"—Brian Regan's impression of typical dinner table conversation at the Kennedy household
Brian Regan has been on the stand-up comedy scene for a number of years now. Night owls have probably seen him at some point or another on Leno, Letterman, or Conan. Seems like every year, he embarks on a national tour. Positive word-of-mouth has spread, and the crowds have gotten larger. He turns in a respectable performance for Brian Regan: Standing Up, his latest DVD, but it's not as out-and-out hilarious as it should be, especially when compared to the material on his 1997 CD, Brian Regan Live. The few moments on Standing Up that actually live up to Live make the rest of the act feel like a missed opportunity.
Stand-up comedy is a tricky thing. Humor, of course, is entirely subjective, and the audience seems to be having a great time. Now, there's a big difference between going to a comedy club and watching a DVD. Live shows have an advantage for some reason. Maybe it's the experience of sharing a laugh with a few dozen strangers. Maybe it's the two-drink minimum. Whatever the reason, I wasn't laughing quite as hard as the crowd at the theater.
Regan transitions smoothly from bit to bit, touching upon typical stand-up fare like politics, airline travel, and television, incorporating liberal doses of physical humor throughout. I actually recognized a few of the jokes from a Brian Regan performance at the Comedy Connection in Boston in 2005, which was surprising; I thought there would be more "joke turnover" after almost two years. For the most part, he keeps the material at arm's length, relying on that tried-and-true observational humor. He really shines, though, when he focuses on more personal material, like the jokes about raising his kids. It's his sincerity that sells it. Luckily, the performance works a lot better the second time around, when expectation aren't running so high. It's a good DVD to have playing in the background when you've got friends over. Regan's Everyday Joe schtick is endearing. He's also a member of that rare breed of comics capable of serving up acts that are devoid of vulgarity and raunch, and it doesn't seem like he's doing it in an attempt to please all of the people all of the time, but because he genuinely feels like offering an obscenity free routine is the right thing to do.
As for the DVD, the audio is fine, and the video looks great. There's a trend in stand-up DVDs lately that favors more "cinematic" visual presentations (I can trace it at least as far back as The Kings of Comedy). In other words, these guys aren't just sitting in the front row with a camcorder. The image is crisp and clear, and there's some honest-to-God visual flair at work. Regan works in a lot of great facial expressions, and the cameras are always right there with the close-ups.
One of the disc's two extras is a truly awkward encore in which audience members shout requests, and Regan actually performs old material. There aren't a lot of big laughs here, since the crowd is waiting expectantly for the punch lines they requested, but they seem satisfied with the bits. Regan, on the other hand, just looks embarrassed. He gets flustered trying to gracefully segue through the requested stuff, and seems rightfully perplexed that his audience is asking for old jokes.
The second extra is Comedy Central Presents Brian Regan, a special that frankly has stronger material than the 42-minute feature presentation. The bits about Regan's struggle to eat right and start exercising are funny because he lets his own insecurities become a part of the equation. Here's hoping we see a return to form in the future. In the meantime, Brian Regan: Standing Up is a good quick fix for anyone looking for some new Regan.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Comedy Central
• Brian Regan: Standing Up (Encore)
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