Jim Breuer to perform at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
Many still recognize him as Goat Boy or for his impressions of actor Joe Pesci on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” in the mid-‘90s. Others know him from the 1998 cult film “Half Baked.” But Jim Breuer would prefer to leave those characters in the past.
“I love what I’ve done, but, like I’m saying, that was 20 years ago,” Breuer said during a phone interview with a What’s NXT reporter. “I loved ‘Half Baked’ and ‘Saturday Night Live.’ That was great. But it’s not very flattering. It’s not who I am. I never was that. I was acting.”
He has since developed a vast body of work to which he relates more closely. For the past 20 years, Breuer said, his successful career as a stand-up comedian, actor, musician and radio host has been founded on a key element — “full-blown relatability.”
“I honestly have a blue-collar mentality,” he said. “I’m not Hollywood. I never have been. I talk about real subjects, real life, home.”
Such are some of the subjects Breuer will talk about during his performance at Charles Town, W.Va.’s Hollywood Casino on Friday, Jan. 10 at 9 p.m.
People who see his stand-up routine tend to continue to follow him, “which is pretty flattering,” he said.
“I do my best to be inspiring. People relate to real-life subjects. They tell me, ‘The way you talk about your wife and children really inspires us as a family. That thing you did with your father really changed my life,’” he said.
“That thing” was a 2010 TV special in which Breuer’s 84-year-old, World War II veteran father accompanied him on a stand-up comedy tour. During the tour, Breuer struggled with caregiving and coming to terms with his father’s mortality while working to strengthen their relationship.
Breuer also has been open in his work about his family’s painful experience as his wife has been battling stage four cancer for the past two and a half years. She is part of a trial treatment program at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
“To me, comedy has always been that I do my best to find the funny in life in general. My goal is not to (tick) people off, not to divide,” he said. “I find healing in comedy, no matter what you are going through.”
Breuer said music and comedy are the two things in life that can “reach far and wide over and beyond pretty much anything.” His choice to find hope and humor even in adversity comes from his upbringing, he said. In addition to his father being a World War II veteran, his mother lost her first husband to the war.
“It’s in my roots. I had a great childhood but there was always a real-life situation around us at any given time. There was darkness and we found the humor to heal and to lift everyone up in the house and around us,” he said. “If you don’t have humor in your life, if you take yourself too seriously, you are never gonna get by in life.”
Breuer was named as one of Comedy Central’s 100 greatest stand-ups of all time. He hosted MTV’s “Beach House” and VH1’s “Web Junk 20.” He has been in the films “Zookeeper” and “Dick” and he currently appears with Kevin James on CBS’s “Kevin Can Wait.”
He knew as a child that he would grow up to make a living in comedy.
“I knew as a kid, in sixth grade. I was always writing sketches,” he said. “I wasn’t sure then if it would be acting or what, but I knew by high school that I was going to be a stand-up comedian.”
Acts ranging from Laurel and Hardy and Abbott and Costello to Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and George Carlin inspired him.
“Richard Pryor was so honest. He talked about such real-life things and made it funny. I wanted to do that. I remember as a kid, I saw him talking about having a heart attack, acting it out and making it funny. That’s what I wanted to do,” Breuer said.
He is careful to maintain dignity and respect for those close to him as he shares their stories.
“The trick for me has always been to take all that and find the humor without hurting someone,” he said. “That’s where the line goes.”
Breuer said he doesn’t think that people who come to his show “will ever laugh harder at any other live event.”
“I am that confident,” he said. “I want you to leave feeling uplifted. I know my voice. I walk in and read a room and come out with the things I want to say. We get on a surfboard and we are off to the races.”