A blog by Josh Humbert
Grace, Work, and Pop-tart Directions
Through the magic of youtube, I came across an old, old performance from (in my opinion) the best comic working today, Brian Regan. Can’t tell exactly how old the clip is, but I’m guessing early 1990’s.
The thing about it is, the performance is almost a little bit painful to watch. Regan is working and there are some laughs…but…it seems different from 2013. The thing is this: if you’ve heard/seen Regan perform in last decade and a half then this clip feels almost out of place.
My history with Regan goes back to my freshman year of college in 2001. Hearing his live cd was a game-changer. I recall taking the cd to my parent’s house in Colorado and making my entire family sit around the table and just listen to this cd for an hour. Keep in mind, this was just audio….not video.
And they were rolllin’ with laughter…
To this day, Regan’s classic bits on that cd STILL get quoted often in conversations with family and friends (“You HAD logs?” “TAKE LUUUUUCK!!” “The big YELLOW ONE is the SUN!” “When’s that BAAAAAABY DUE??! etc, etc, etc). I’ve made countless people sit and listen to that cd. It’s top-shelf.
Through the years, I’ve also been able to see Regan perform live several times. Some of the best entertainment dollars I’ve spent. He delivers. I remember when a friend experienced his comedy for the first time ever at a live show……I was worried for her life as she couldn’t stop laughing. It got real!
What separates Regan from others is his ability to work “clean.” The great majority of comics lean on expletives like a crutch and use crude topics or sexuality to get laughs.
Oh you said the f-word really loudly so I’m supposed to laugh now? Got it. Oh you made an observation about sex or body parts? How original of you. Breaking new ground there, buddy, lemme tell ya!
What Regan does, in my estimation, takes WAY more talent and skill. He doesn’t need those crutches of crudeness to have people rolling. He has refined his talent and developed his skill to where he can take something like a butterfly farm and have the audience melting.
How did Regan go from the slightly awkward performance of that youtube clip (that isn’t as funny) to his polished set and persona? How did he go from the mullet/tie-wearing/impersonating-his-neighbor stuff to the elite of comedy today?
He just kept grinding.
Day after day, year after year, set after set…he kept working hard and getting the reps in. Slowly but surely, he came to refine his approach, his voice, his methods, and his visuals to where now he has it perfected.
It wasn’t overnight. He wasn’t killing it from the moment he became a comic (as the clip shows). But as the time added up and as the years went by, his work bore comedic fruit that stands up with the best of them.
What’s interesting in watching the old performance is that you can see small hints of what is to come in later years. You can hear and see he is not too far away from the ideas, voices, and observations that he will come to master. The glimpses are fleeting but they are there.
Near the middle of that old clip, he goes into a bit about owning a goldfish that lives in a small glass. A glimpse.
He follows that with a discussion of his family who doesn’t grow corn. A glimpse.
Just small little hints of where he will eventually go with all of this.
As a fan of his, I am grateful Regan didn’t give up or stop trying new material. Because he stayed with it, kept grinding, kept improving…because he didn’t settle, he has contributed laughter and joy to many people’s lives.
Through the magic of Facebook, my Pops posted a picture of him, my mom, his brothers, and his mother in the summer of 1975. It has all the trappings of a family picture you might expect from that era: 70’s suits, 70’s hair, 70’s swag. Pops is on the left side rocking the Ron Burgundy suit with my mom next to him.
The picture is interesting for me to examine as his son. I know what my dad was coming out of at this time in his life. He had grown up in a home that had all that money could buy, and yet, was missing everything money could not buy. Pops grew up in the utter misery of abuse, alcoholism, drug use, and anger out of control. He knew what it meant for furniture to be hurled through windows and the cops to know your family’s address by heart. He knew what it meant to seriously consider running away forever.
But this picture comes two years after Pops has given his life to Christ and had begun to have his whole life changed by grace. In this picture, he has now been married to my mom for a year and they are four summers away from welcoming my older brother into the world. And six summers away from my birth. And eleven years away from Amy joining the fold.
There is so much ahead of him at this point. He has survived the wreckage of his home life and, because of Christ, his life is on a whole different trajectory. Pops will not let the wounds of his early years be what defines him or causes him to make the same mistakes with his own children. He will not perpetuate the toxic sin he had to endure all through his childhood and teenage years. Grace has him on an entirely different path.
He doesn’t even know it yet, but he is already on his way to becoming the best dad I could ask for. At the point this picture was taken, he only knew how dad’s should not be with their children and how husbands should not be with their wives. But he will dedicate himself to studying and applying God’s Word to his life. He will walk in the grace of God and obey His Word. And it will bring great joy to his family.
I’m sure it wasn’t overnight for him. I’m sure his growth in God’s grace was full of ups and downs, but he continued in it. And that grace made all the difference. The grace of Jesus bore good, healing fruit in my Pops and it bore good….no, actually not just “good”, but the BEST fruit in our family.
The (Poptart) Guidelines
Regan has a classic bit about how Pop-tarts actually includes directions on their boxes. Literally, they included directions on how to toast a Pop-tart. His visuals and voice are perfect. “…you’re gonna throw the vertical concept at them?”
The simple truth is it should be quite obvious and easy to get a Pop-tart ready, right? But what about our lives in 2014? Unfortunately, life doesn’t come with directions printed on your birth certificate. Confusion and doubts can make it hard to see the good way. “How do I get that goodness in me??!!”
I’m not here to talk about resolutions for 2014. I just want to throw some pop-tart type guidelines your way.
Like Regan, keep grinding. Keep working diligently at the passions in your heart. Do not let them fade. Refuse to let the busyness of life distract you from the reason you were given breath. There is a purpose to your life in God. There are works of art you alone are meant to create. There are things that await you that only you can do. You don’t feel you are any good right now? You just see failure?
Don’t you dare give up.
Like Pops, discover the wonder of grace. Daily. Rediscover it every single day. Where you are right now isn’t where you have to end up. The evil done to you doesn’t have to survive and live again. The grace of Christ heals, redeems, changes, and transforms. His grace can grow you and make into something you may never even thought possible. It’s called amazing for a reason. Every single day, make it your first priority to rediscover the Gospel and in this way, you will taste the beautiful grace that makes all the difference.
You may not even see them, but if you keep working hard and stay amazed by grace, there will be little glimpses of what’s to come. You may not even realize how close you are to turning a huge corner or breaking through. But God knows. In His time, the glimpses will eventually become gold. You will bear good fruit.
Going hard after the things you were born to do and growing in the grace of God—-if this sums up your 2014, it will have been lived well.
Oh, and….go see Regan live. That will also mean you lived (and laughed) well.
As always, thanks for reading. I pray your 2014 is full of these things. Your comments and messages are welcomed.
For more Regan (I highly recommend!!) go here: http://brianregan.com