SHIPPENSBURG — Comedy, like many things in life, often develops from awkwardness, and Brian Regan’s performance Friday at the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center at Shippensburg University, proved just how funny those situations can be.
Regan regaled the audience of both young and old with hilarious stories from his own life, including the awkwardness of being a stand-up comedian.
“I’m just trying to get through life without looking like an idiot,” he said. “It’s not going too well.”
But that awkwardness helps Regan connect with the audience and keep those in attendance in almost a perpetual state of laughter while discussing his disdain for calendars that share squares at the end of the month, to getting in shape, to books on tape.
The show opened with comedian Jim Colliton, whose tone set the mood for the night with jokes about marriage, travel and missing his children’s sports games.
He shared stories from his life, such as trying to play video games with his children and not understanding how they work, as well as being forced to go back into a party to retrieve Tupperware containers left by his wife.
Regan then kept the laughter going, discussing his New Year’s resolution of getting into shape, which is a failure because of his love of donuts.
“I’ve gained six pounds,” he said.
He joked about buying a juicer and failing to make banana juice, and instead buying donuts and trying to make donut juice.
He also discussed his awkwardness in social situations, including not remembering someone’s name, not understanding when it is appropriate to walk away from a conversation and how the handshake has fallen out of fashion.
“What happened to the handshake? They aren’t used anymore. So I decided to start chest bumping people. I was in midair and I don’t think this lady realized,” he said.
Regan’s jokes come to life with exaggerated body movements and expressions, illustrating many of his stories. His demonstration of dancing at parties kept the audience howling with laughter.
Back in the dating scene, Regan shared stories about asking someone out, and how unlike the movies, it is a long and involved process. Communication has also changed drastically, from smoke signals to Facebook messages, he said.
“How do you think the Indians would write Tonto is feeling melancholy?” he said, flailing about the stage, demonstrating smoke signals.
Even his missteps worked. In one instance, a newly written joke didn’t go as planned, and as he fumbled his way through it, the audience continued to laugh, prodding him to finish.
Regan’s comedy is a blend of observational, sarcastic and self-deprecating humor, typically covering everyday events, such as shipping a package with UPS or a visit to an optometrist. His material lends itself to the clean side of comedy, since Regan does not tend to use curse words or sexually explicit situations in his material.
“It is mostly because that is the stuff that interests me as a comedian, just everyday subjects,” he said in a phone interview with The Sentinel. “In fact, that to me is the challenge, trying to get comedy out of the most mundane subjects imaginable and try to find peculiar stuff within that world. That to me is what is intriguing. I’m going to speak metaphorically, there is a big mine and some comedians are coming out of it with their miners hats on saying, ‘Well that’s been picked dry there is nothing left in there.’ Well I want to put my miners hat on and go in and go ‘Well, there is something else in there’ and try to get some laughs out of some stuff that people had already thought had been picked clean.”
Regan has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman more than any other comedian, setting a record of 26 appearances since 1995.
Regan’s first album released in 1997, “Brian Regan Live,” has sold more than 150,000 copies and consistently charts in iTunes Top Ten Comedy Albums. His most recent performance, “All By Myself,” is available via CD, exclusively on his website.