‘Half Baked’ comedian recounts stoned youth
Students staked out Goldstein Auditorium two and a half hours in advance of Jim Breuer’s sold-out performance on Friday, but the biggest fan of his marijuana-laced stand-up was an 80-year-old – his dad.
Breuer’s father attended the show, as he does many performances, and cheered as his son mixed reminiscence of his youthful antics with jokes about pot, booze and stomach parties. At the end of the show, Breuer introduced his dad to the roaring crowd.
‘He only comes to local gigs,’ said Breuer, a 36-year-old Long Island, N.Y., native, after the show. ‘But he’s fun to have along. He loves coming along. He thinks he’s a star.’
Memories of his rise to fame on ‘Saturday Night Live’ and his escapades with Dave Chappelle were brought to life by the guitar riff of opening act Paul Bond. Bond strummed to the mood of Breuer’s anecdotes and even cut in with ‘stoner music’ to accompany Breuer’s half-baked pantomime.
‘It was everything I expected,’ said David Young, director of University Union Comedy. ‘I knew he was more of a story comedian, so I wasn’t expecting stand-up material. But I thought it was awesome.’
Bond opened the show with sexually-charged parodies of outdated pop songs, but his humor was surprisingly crisp. He converted John Mayer’s ‘Your Body Is a Wonderland’ to a tune about sexual frustration called ‘That’s Why I Always Use My Hand.’ A song about the sexually ambivalent Anne Heche was set to the tune of ‘Meet Virginia’ – and his altered lyrics are hardly imaginative.
At the request of three sign-toting crowd members, Breuer resurrected his classic drinking joke, the stomach party. The joke personifies all the typical alcoholic beverages, and the night ends when nine rowdy shots of tequila start a fight and the stomach expels its contents – the same way they came in.
Breuer’s ‘SNL’ stories were more of a biography than a stand-up routine, but they offered insight into the comedian’s twisted (and sometimes chemically-altered) mind.
Breuer described his traumatizing first day on the cast, when he zoned out during a press conference and found himself under siege by reporters. They asked how long he’d been a fan of the show, and he accidentally told the truth.
‘I never watched the show as a kid.’
That’s it, he thought. I’m fired.
Luckily, senior cast member Norm Macdonald – who smoked cigarettes during the press conference – had some choice words of his own for the media. Macdonald’s colorful commentary took the heat off the young star, who quickly nestled into his role at ‘SNL’ and spawned a cast of memorable characters.
Breuer created his first recurring character, Goat Boy, while getting high in the desolate goat exhibit at the zoo. No one was around, and he decided to use his goat impression to communicate with the animals. He knew he was on to something when the goats answered back.
‘When you’re baked,’ he said, ‘that is huge.’
The comic’s next claim to fame was his stereotypical impression of Joe Pesci, an actor typecast as an Italian mobster. The sketch that grew from his impression was such a hit that Pesci himself demanded to make an appearance on the show.
When Breuer met Pesci – his childhood idol – in the ‘SNL’ green room, the actor chastised the comedian for using Italian ethnic slurs in his sketch. Breuer wasn’t Italian, he said, and Pesci seemed irate that he used slang that degraded his race.
‘How do you react to this?’ Breuer asked. ‘Joe Pesci, the actor, is fuckin’ threatening you.’
Pesci soon revealed to the confused, panicked Breuer that he was just ‘breakin’ balls,’ and he proceeded to break much more with his baseball bat on that night’s sketch.
The distorted squeals of Bond’s guitar became integral to the success of Breuer’s stoner bits, providing the sound effects for his out-of-body experiences.
Breuer also told of his pot-smoking youth, when he used the drug ‘just to be retarded.’ Today, he says, he smokes occasionally, and much of his humor is still inspired – if not induced by – weed.
‘Maybe it’s just the pot,’ Breuer said of his comic creations. Then he laughed his high-pitched, drugged-up laugh and changed his mind. ‘I don’t think so.’
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