As a big fan of clean comedy, I was watching Brian Regan videos on YouTube when I came across a Google Talk featuring Brian Regan. I was intrigued. Fifteen minutes in, I learned a valuable lesson from his career in comedy that I think applies to almost any aspect of life.
For me, the biggest take away from the video was when he said, “I always feel it’s a mistake to try and figure out what the audience finds funny. You should be saying what you think is funny… and if they agree then great, that’s your act.”
As a student filmmaker, I think it’s easy to focus on trying to please the audience rather than making a film that you want to see. There are principles from Brian Regan’s career that apply to whatever you are trying to make of your life.
Technique Requires Research
Anyone who is familiar with Brian Regan knows that he takes everyday occurrences and shows the humor in it. He is observant, he notices the world around him, and he sees the humor in it. A photographer views the world around them, and envisions the photos. A cinematographer views the world and envisions the magical film moments.
We must research the world around us with our own senses but also go beyond that to seek out new knowledge. Brian Regan talks about not choosing between the good and the bad, but choosing to learn from all of it. We must shift our own paradigm to match this desire of learning.
Technique Requires Practice
Brian Regan wanted to preform every night. He wanted to learn and understand comedy inside and out. Whatever it is: sports, music, photography, or video–the best way to learn is to go out and get some hands-on experience. Shoot some sort of video every day if possible—even if it is on your phone.
Create Something You Would Want to See
Rather than focusing on what will please other people, if you make a film you want to see, and you make it with great quality, there are going to be people who appreciate it. Someone will see the value. As recited in Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.” But you have to build it well and put your heart into it.
Brad Bird, director known for his work at Pixar, says, “We make films that we ourselves would want to see and then hope that other people would want to see it. If you try to analyze audiences or think there’s some sophisticated recipe for success, then I think you are doomed. You’re making it too complicated.”
Don’t make it complicated. Films are already complicated to make. And don’t be afraid to look to other sources for inspiration—like a stand-up comedian.