Few SNL veterans have had to deal with the pigeonholing and character-branding Jim Breuer has had to eschew for the last decade. To most, he’s either the perma-bed-headed stoner from Half Baked or the bizarrely polymorphic Goat Boy from SNL, or both. Each was an iconic character, and at least partly responsible for the cult following the comic has enjoyed over the years. But those creations were also from a lifetime ago. “I’m a different person now,” Breuer said in a recent interview.
So how does one shake a reputation of such scale? Simple: old-school metal rock. Of the arena-filling, lazer-lit, "You Shook Me All Night Long" variety. I’m serious.
And so is Breuer, as much as is possible for a comedian trying to start a second career as a head-banging jester. While he’s still months away from getting his band together for a formal tour called the “Hard Rock Metal Comedy Tour” — and yes, he will be doing a more traditional stand-up this weekend at Cobb’s — he’s anxiously anticipating starting a second life as an avuncular lead singer to a hard rock band.
“Once I was in comedy, this is the thing I’ve been waiting to do my whole life. This is what I’ve envisioned,” he says.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say Breuer sees himself as a sort of evangelist for a brand of music that has fallen out of favor with the mainstream and the critical community. He came of age with the sounds of AC/DC and Metallica swirling in his subconscious, and he wants to make sure the next generation understands what all the big anthems, chords and abrasive chanting was all about.
Breuer, now a father of three girls, sees himself as a posterboy for today’s young fathers who still cling to past lives as show-going metalheads. Fatherhood is very much a part of the new Jim Breuer, and it does inform his live act. “It’s the only thing I think about,” he says. When we’re talking, in fact, he had just returned from one of his daughter’s soccer games. “She’s a beast,” he reports with pride.
Of course, once upon a time, Breuer was well known for his partyboy persona and shtick, which has been something for him to reconcile in this second life as father figure and role model. When I ask him if he feels added pressure to be the cool dad given his reputation, he answers with zen-like simplicity: “I am the cool dad.”
Which should come as no surprise. A master of cartoonish characters, Breuer should have little problem entertaining children. That, after all, was the context in which Breuer learned his craft. “My whole family’s funny — all of ’em. Once or twice a month, we’d have 20 people in the yeard, everyone cracking up, even in our blue-collar neighborhood.
“I’ve always been a character guy. I’m a mimic. That’s where it comes from. It started in the school cafeteria where we’d try and rank each other out, and bring the cartoon side of it. It just comes. It’s a gift.”
Breuer now finds himself fine-tuning the gift for one last stand-up tour before his career about-face, and he says his routine has never been sharper.
“I keep it as close as I can to my style. I like killing (in the comedic sense), addicted to it. I think I’ve got it down to a science.”
Jim Breuer rocks the mic at Cobb's tonight through Saturday.