Jim Breuer's played a stoner in Half Baked and a half-man, half-goat on Saturday Night Live.
But his new role may be his most challenging: family comic.
Married with two daughters, the stand-up has embraced his home life as fodder for his act. The clean-cut approach has paid dividends, and netted him opportunities to star in a family sitcom on Nickelodeon and a family film, as well as provide a guest voice on the animated feature The Zookeeper, starring Kevin James, Adam Sandler, and Cher. Breuer is also working on a biographical book about his life as a stand-up and his balance of home life, morals, and entertainment, which he will support with a promotional comedy tour later this year.
Despite looking like he stepped out of a Cheech and Chong film, with a hang-dog expression and perpetually glassy eyes, the 42-year-old Breuer said audiences are accepting the family-appropriate jokes.
"It's been tremendous, the response to it all," he said in a recent phone interview. "This is what I am, so I can't lie about it. You have to be good. If you're not good, people don't care what you're doing."
On a mini tour of comedy clubs, Breuer stops in Perrysburg on Tuesday for two nights at the Funny Bone, 6140 Levis Commons Blvd.
Breuer is a comic first, actor/performer second. But mapping out a career off the stage, a risky and important component to lasting success, is something he takes seriously, plotting movie and TV projects months if not years in the future.
"Usually, I'm already two to three steps ahead of the game," he said.
Sometimes those projects have worked: Half Baked. Most often they haven't: Crooked Lines.
And now Breuer finds himself trapped in half-celeb, half-regular guy limbo, with enough face recognition to cause curious looks from passers-by but not enough to elicit mobs of fans.
He's a well-known and well-regarded comic, the star of several Comedy Central specials including the recent Let's Clear the Air, but Breuer lacks the consistent box-office mojo necessary to ascend to elite comic-actor. If this predicament bothers him, Breuer never lets on. He seems genuinely pleased with his lot as a headline stand-up and supporting comic actor, always good for a memorably funny line or two.
Breuer made a name for himself 15 years ago as an SNL cast member with his clever impersonations and eccentric characters, including Goat Boy, the host of his own MTV show, "Hey, Remember the '80s."
So is this where he imagined his career would be 15 years ago?
"No," he said. "When I first started I just imagined Saturday Night Live and then as time goes on I'll do a film here and a film there. Now I just know the song 'Row Your Boat,' … you just get on a boat and admire the scenery."
Breuer has a long history with comic Dave Chappelle, whom he references in much of his act. The pair starred in a failed sitcom, and later in the 1998 stoner comedy Half Baked, which - no surprise given its subject matter - became a cult classic.
The truth is, Breuer never thought much of the success of Half Baked until it jumped from theaters and into homes.
"I can tell you exactly the weekend it came out on video," he said. "People were stopping me on the street. I couldn't go in bars; every teenager and college kid knew who I was. And I had no clue what was going on.
"I thought I knocked that sucker out of the park," he said. "People thought I was high the whole movie, but as God is my witness, I wasn't, which is part of the frustration."
Breuer talks about that frustration as part of his act, which also includes his wickedly funny Chappelle impersonation, one of many he's known for, including Joe Pesci, Ozzy Osbourne, members of Metallica, and Brian Johnson of AC/DC.
The comic is so good with voices and mannerisms, you'd think he spends hours if not days perfecting his impersonations. He doesn't.
"I don't even work on them. I don't do impressions like an actor. It's one of those things that just falls into my lap," he said, "and then it's like, 'Oh, yeah, I can do this.' When I do it, I'm really a huge fan or an admirer, so it comes natural. I can't imitate just anyone, like a Darrell Hammond."
Jim Breuer performs at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at the Funny Bone Comedy Club, 6140 Levis Commons Blvd. in Perrysburg. Tickets are $25. Call 419-931-3474 or visit funny
bonefatfishtoledo.com for more information or to purchase tickets.
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