Interview with Loudermilk’s secret weapon: Brian Regan

Brian Regan and Mat Fraser
Mugsy in circle time with Roger (Mat Fraser), sharing how he and his daughter parted ways. Pic credit: AT&T Audience Network

AT&T Audience Network’s excellent comedy Loudermilk boasts many great actors, but when comedian Brian Regan’s character Mugsy was introduced he stole the show.

Under the guidance of recovering alcoholic Loudermilk (Ron Livingston — read our interview with him here), Regan’s character is a remorseful dad, and part of Loudermilk’s motley crew of recovery regulars who meet up for circle time and help each other stay clean and sober.

But when Mugsy reveals his daughter Latte was estranged for eight years, that sends Loudermilk into action.

Regan is an all-time great stand up, never relying on a cheap laugh, insult-driven set or profanity-laced Def Comedy Jam assault. He plays it smart with perfect timing and observational quips nurtured by his own funny beginnings — the product of a tight-knit, solid Irish family that helped shape his suitable-for-all-ages-and-crowds comedic sensibilities.

Luckily, Peter Farrelly, another Irish-American man and Loudermilk’s showrunner and EP, got wind of his act. As we find out in the interview, it sealed the deal for Regan’s marvelous Mugsy to come to life.

We spoke to Brian about his amazing turn on Loudermilk and his coming Netflix comedy special, Nunchucks and Flamethrowers.

Monsters and Critics: I had no idea that you were in Loudermilk, and when I was sent the screeners I was psyched when episode 103 hit and I was like ‘that’s Brian Regan!’.

Brian Regan: Ah, well that’s nice, thank you. I hope you weren’t screaming in horror, I hope it’s a happy surprise. No, no, that’s very nice of you, thank you.

M&C: I see you in a lot of other comedians’ projects, like Seinfeld’s Coffee in Cars and with Chris Rock, so how did Peter Farrelly find you for this role as Mugsy?

Brian Regan: It was very bizarre. I was performing in Jamestown, NY, at the I Love Lucy Comedy Festival. I guess Lucille Ball is from near there, that’s where her hometown is, so they have a comedy festival and Peter Farrelly was there, donating a car from Dumb and Dumber, that big car that looked like a dog, or whatever.

So another comedian, Jackie Flynn, who was also in Loudermilk, is a friend of Peter Farrelly’s and said to him, “you should check out Brian Regans’ show tonight”. And I don’t think Peter Farrelly knew who I was, so they brought him to my show, and then after the show, Peter Farrelly came backstage and had some nice things to say and said he was working on this project and was wondering if I’d be interested in it.

And a lot of times, people just talk and there’s never any follow through. I thought it was sort of like small talk, chit-chat, like wow, this is nice that, you know, he would throw this in, that he’s working on a project.

And he said, you know, “I’ll call you in a couple of days about it” and he’s one of the few people in show-business who called in a couple of days. I’m like, “wow, he said he was going to call, and he did.” I’ve never had that happen before.

So, yeah, he said he was working on this project and thought I might be good for it. And I said, “you know, I don’t really do much acting” and he said, “well from your act, I can tell you’re an actor from what you do in your show.” And I’m like, well, you’re giving me a lot of credit that I don’t yet deserve.

So they sent the sides for the role and I said, “yeah, I’d like to give this a shot”. So they put me in the show. So it was kind of cool.

M&C: It feels like you’re in an improv situation when you’re in the group recovery circle…

Brian Regan: Well, the small group discussions, we shot them all in like a week and three or four of us are characters that have our own storylines, or you know, we have lines. And then the rest are like extras. And Peter Farrelly…when I first started shooting the stuff, I was just kind of sticking to the script and Peter Farrelly took me aside after a few days and said, “I want you to know you can go off-book here man, you know, if you feel a way to be funny, go for it.” And I was like, “okay”.

So I started doing that and little by little, I really started enjoying it. I was like, “good, they didn’t want to me to feel handcuffed to the words on the page.”

I played around a lot and they ended up using some of that stuff. They sent me all ten episodes, so I was able to watch and go, “wow, man, they let me play” so I give Peter Farrelly a lot of credit because I think he trusts that I have some comedic senses, and so he gave me the green light to go off-roading and it’s fun.

M&C: I love your scenes and the name of your daughter…Latte! Is there a story behind all that?

Brian Regan: [Laughs] I don’t know how they came up with that, but you know what was interesting, that was the first scene that I shot. They shot the whole thing like a movie. You know, it’s ten half-hours, so it’s like a five-hour movie and they didn’t necessarily shoot episode one and then episode two.

They just shot the entire thing and cut it up, so the first scene that I shot, was the…my most important scene, where I had to meet my daughter, who I hadn’t seen in like eight years. And I didn’t even know if I could act.

I mean, I flew in that morning. They shot up in Vancouver and I was sleeping on the plane. I land, [then] they’re driving me to the set and I’m literally putting my contacts on in the back of a car. And I get to the set and I have to do this relatively emotional scene where I have to meet my daughter Latte who I haven’t seen in years.

I was nervous. I don’t even know if I know how to act. And when we got there, the scene is the set in a homeless shelter and I swear, when I got there, I couldn’t tell if we were in an actual homeless shelter where they were going to shoot our little scene, or if it was a set made to look like a homeless shelter. I couldn’t tell.

There are all these people around and I didn’t want to ask, “hey, are you an actor or are you really homeless?” You know? And there was a table of food and I couldn’t figure out if that was food for the homeless people here in the shelter…or are we all actors and this is for all of us?

And I didn’t want to ask anybody, so I never ate anything. I had to shoot this scene where I see [my daughter] Latte after eight years and I have no idea if it went well or not. I had no idea. And then, that night, Peter Farrelly called me in the hotel and said, “hey man, why don’t you come down to the bar, let’s have a cocktail?”

I thought he was going to cut me. I thought it didn’t go well. And I went down, nervous, thinking, he’s going to say, “hey man, we gave it a shot, you didn’t quite rise to the occasion.”

And instead, we just had a cocktail and he goes, “hey man, by the way, good job today.” And I was like, wow, I thought I was headed to the airport, man.

M&C: So tell me what happens…how involved does your character get with Ron Livingston’s Loudermilk? How involved does the story arc get and where does Mugsy kind of go in the story?

Brian Regan as Mugsy and Ron Livingston as Loudermilk
Regan’s Mugsy and Ron Livingston’s Loudermilk. Pic credit: AT&T Audience Network

Brian Regan: My most important episode is the one that already aired. Episode three, that’s the one where I talk about having not seen my daughter and where I meet her and all of that. The other shows go off on other characters and other things.

We’re hoping to get a second season and I’ve heard, like, little rumblings that they might get a second season. If we do, great. And I also feel like they kind of like what I did, so I don’t know for sure but I feel like they kind of want to expand my character a little bit, which would be pretty amazing.

M&C: Your Netflix special, I just watched it, the Nunchucks and Flamethrowers, hilarious. I would love for you tell me about the comedic well-spring that is your family. Your dad and your mom and your siblings and everything, and just the innate humor that you kind of grew up with. Everyone says comics are damaged and they’re angry and this and that. Comedy comes from anger and I don’t feel that way about you. Could you talk about how you buck that trend?

Brian Regan: Well I appreciate you saying that and I also, you know, resist when people say that comedy has to come from only one perspective. I think comedy can come from a number of different perspectives. You know, certainly you can have somebody whose kind of angry at the world and has a chip on his or her shoulder and wants to do comedy through that prism and that’s valid.

But you can also do it from, “hey, this thing called life is pretty damn cool and people, for the most part, are pretty nice.” But you know, there are some jerky people and there are some jerky things that happen and let’s poke a little stick at it, but for the most part it’s a cool ride.

I like that perspective, like a, “hey a win-win. Hey, we’re all riding this together,” but at the end of the day, it’s pretty grand, you know? So I like making people feel good, that’s one thing that I’ve always…I don’t know. I don’t like when people feel bad. I don’t want to do a kind of show where 90 per cent of the people are laughing at the other 10 per cent. I want all 100 per cent laughing. I try to have it come from a perspective of life is a-okay.

M&C: You grew up in Florida, America’s butt of many jokes. I wondered if you had a perspective on that, being from there?

Brian Regan: Well I think that there are so many different kinds of people in Florida, that makes it very bizarre. When you say other states, it’s easier to wrap a characterization around it, even though that’s always unfair to do. But if you think, Wisconsin…you picture a Wisconsin person. You picture Massachusetts, you picture somebody. Florida, it’s hard to picture an individual, there’s just so many different, distinct people.

You have old people from the north who moved down. You have northern Florida, which is like the south, like anybody north of Orlando, is like…that’s like deep south up there. But then you get down to Miami, where you have transplanted New Yorkers, but you also have the Cuban and Haitian population.

So there are so many different kinds of people in Florida from so many different perspectives that it’s a very bizarre place. And so you have, you know, interesting people doing, sometimes, very weird things.

M&C: You’ve played so many different venues, you tour so much, and I just read that you had a performance at Carnegie Hall, which has got to be, like, pretty mind-blowing. Is doing comedy in a huge, kind of, an important venue like that more daunting than like a club, or, do you have a particular favorite venue that you really love performing in?

Brian Regan: Well, I’ve been fortunate for about ten years to have been able to start playing the larger venues. So, I used to do comedy clubs years ago, but the last decade, I’ve mostly been doing one-nighters, theaters and places like that. So, Carnegie Hall is obviously very iconic. You know, it’s not just any theater, but it is a theater.

So for me to be in a room that big is not unusual. I know how to do that. I enjoy doing that, but because of the place being so special, there was definitely a different feel to that particular night. It’s humbling to be backstage and to see a poster that says, “The Beatles Performing at Carnegie Hall,” and then go, “why am I standing here? What happened to me that I’m going out on that stage?”. It’s thrilling.

M&C: When you watch TV, what do you find yourself gravitating towards? What are some of your favorite shows? Any genre.

Brian Regan: I wish I had more time to watch comedies and dramas. I just don’t. When I watch TV, I like to watch the news and I like to watch sports and I like to watch an occasional documentary. But like a series…the last series that I got into, that I had time for, was The Sopranos. And I loved it.

I know there have been a lot of great things that have come and gone, like Breaking Bad and all that, and I can only imagine they were fantastic because everybody says so. My life is so crazy, I don’t have the time to be sitting down and watching something for an hour a week. I just don’t…so I don’t know what’s going on.

M&C: Do you think Kim Jong-un is going to get wind of your latest Netflix special and maybe issue some sort of Korean fatwa on you about your bit on his binoculars?

Brian Regan: [Laughs] Yeah. Now when I’m at airports, I’m extra careful looking around because of what he did…what was it, his stepbrother or whatever? Yeah, I would hope that I’m enough miles away from where he’s not going to be bothered with my handful of jokes! But who knows. We’ll see what happens.

Loudermilk airs new episodes every Tuesday at 10.30pm ET/PT on AT&T’s Audience Network. Brian Regan’s special Nunchucks and Flamethrowers premieres November 21 on Netflix.

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