On the series “Loudermilk,” comedian Brian Regan plays Mugsy, a wisecracking goofball struggling to get off booze who is estranged from his family.
The DirecTV Audience network show, filled with adult language and themes, is a much different experience than one of Regan’s stand-up shows, where families with children pack seats to see the comedian make profanity-free jokes about trips to the doctor’s office or the airport, or the difficulty of using an ironing board.
For much of his career, Regan, who has upcoming shows at Foxwoods in Connecticut and the Hampton Beach Casino in New Hampshire, has gained a reputation for being a clean comedian because his jokes avoid certain words or subjects. And while the comic said he’s glad he has found an audience that enjoys that, he never really sought to be a clean comedian in the first place. His creative vision for his routines just sort of led to that.
“Some photographers like to use color, and some like to use black-and-white,” Regan, 61, said in a recent telephone interview. “I like to do my comedy without hitting certain words or hitting certain subjects just because I enjoy the challenge of it. I enjoy trying to see how much mileage I can get by staying in my lane, if you will. And then, along the way, I came to realize that a lot of people responded to that and a lot of families can enjoy my comedy together. To me, that’s a nice asterisk, a nice by-product.”
Regan said there are comics who use profanity that he thinks are great, and that he’s glad to be a part of director Peter Farrelly’s creative vision with “Loudermilk,” even though it deals with more mature subject matter.
“This show is not clean,” Regan said. “It gets very earthy and gritty, and there’s rough language and rough subject matter, but I’m proud to be a part of it. So it’s kind of a different thing from what I usually do, but it gives me an opportunity to act, which I enjoy, and I’m proud of what I’ve done with it and I’m proud to be in it.”
Regan said the show, recently picked up for a third season, may not be the right choice for his fans who need content to be clean.
“I sort of tell people, ‘Listen, if something being clean is crucial to you, if you don’t want to watch something that isn’t clean, I wouldn’t recommend you watch this ‘Loudermilk. But if you’re open to different types of entertainment, if you’re open to hearing some rough language and that sort of thing, I would love for people to check it out because it’s very funny and it’s very serious.’”
In his stand-up, Regan has continued to remain clean, though it has changed from the start of his career, when he made a lot of jokes about his childhood — things like Little League Baseball and feeling dumb as a kid in school.
“Now I tend to talk about bigger things,” Regan said. “I talk about things now that might surprise people. I dabble very delicately into big-ticket items like politics and guns and things like that. I try to do it in a way that both sides can enjoy, and that’s not a big part of my act but I do like to touch on things because that’s the kind of stuff I think about.
“Everything should grow and evolve, and comedy is part of everything,” he said.
Regan’s Netflix series, “Standup and Away! With Brian Regan,” is another way the comic’s work has changed. For the show, he took old routines that fans loved and combined them with new sketches that he and a team of writers devised.
“Some of the sketches we just thought of without even knowing what stand-up would lead into it. It was sort of like we were creating a Frankenstein, you know? We were, like, ‘Well, all right, here’s a sketch. What stand-up bit would get to that?’ Or sometimes we knew exactly where the stand-up bit would lead. It was fun trying to figure the whole thing out.”
The show was pitched to Netflix and partly produced by comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who Regan has known for years.
“He’s also very good about letting it be my thing,” he said. “Like, he gives his opinions and his thoughts and, obviously, we want to hear anything and everything he has to say because he’s Jerry Seinfeld, he’s, like, the king of comedy, but he’s very cool about saying, ‘These are just my thoughts. If it doesn’t work for you and you want to do it a different way, do it the way you want to do it’, so he gives me complete creative freedom, which is wonderful.”
In one episode, Regan jokes about losing his baggage at the airport and receiving an “essentials kit” from airport staff in lieu of his missing luggage. The stand-up segment cuts away to a video of Regan walking in a forest with only the “essentials kit.” He uses items from the kit, such as a plastic flossing tool and what looks like breath mints, to kill a bird, and uses a sleeping mask to blind a bear and keep it from attacking him.
Regan said doing sketches in combination with his stand-up was a natural transition.“My stand-up is almost like little sketches anyway,” he said. “I just describe little scenes. But I thought, why not just use this way of thinking and create sketches that we can actually shoot and combine those with stand-up and letting that remain as stand-up and we’ll see how that works out? And we got a lot of nice feedback.”
Brian Regan plays Foxwoods on Friday, Sept. 27 ( $33-$53) and Hampton Beach Casino on Saturday, Sept. 28 ($27-$57).