Thursday, April 26, 2018
Stage

SNL alum Jim Breuer earned his comedy chops in local clubs in the '80s.

By Jimmy Geurts

Times Staff Writer

Jim Breuer says he doesn't remember his first Saturday Night Live show.

But ask him about his days starting out in standup in St. Petersburg and Clearwater, and suddenly the floodgates open.

"The days from '89 to '91 doing the comedy clubs down there — Ron Bennington's Comedy Scene, the Comedy Corner, Coconuts — I can probably tell you every one of my sets, half the shows I did," Breuer said.

Now the comic, radio host and SNL and Half Baked actor will return to Tampa Bay for a standup show Friday at the Straz Center.

Breuer, who still has friends in Holiday and until recently family in Palm Harbor, was the house emcee at Ron Bennington's in Clearwater. While there, he met comics like Brian Regan, Paula Poundstone, Larry the Cable Guy (then Dan Whitney) and Darrell Hammond.

"It was such an amazing time and I learned so much about everything — about life, about the road, about becoming a comedian," Breuer said. "Everything back then, I have nothing but great feelings."

Breuer reunited with Hammond when he joined Saturday Night Live in 1995. He became known for his bleating creation Goat Boy and Joe Pesci impression — culminating with an on-air confrontation by the real Pesci and Robert De Niro.

Yet his stint at SNL was far from smooth. Breuer said he may be the only cast member in the show's history whom the network wanted while creator and producer Lorne Michaels didn't.

At the first meeting with Michaels, there was a weird atmosphere as the show's head sat eating popcorn and not addressing him, Breuer said.

"Then I finally broke the silence by saying, 'Boy, you must really like popcorn,' " he said. "He had his feet up on the desk and then he popped his feet off and walked around me and stared out the window."

Michaels then started talking about Chevy Chase and Bill Murray, which further confounded him.

"I didn't really get the point of it all, but I do remember my agent then calling me up and saying, 'He thought you were high,' and that p----- me off," he said.

"I thought you were high" became a familiar refrain in Breuer's career, to the point that he named his memoir I'm Not High and his standup special Let's Clear the Air.

Not aiding matters was his role in the 1998 stoner favorite Half Baked. Making the film was memorable, he said, as star Dave Chappelle recruited friends and fellow comics like Breuer, Harland Williams, Steven Wright, Janeane Garofalo and Jon Stewart.

"The movie overall to this day, I don't think if I ever got to do a film, it would ever be such a great set like that," he said.

In recent years, though, Breuer has shied away from the stoner image. Having kids was the major factor that steered him toward more family-friendly material, he said.

"I found myself trying to appeal to the Half Baked crowd and I wasn't that guy," he said. "It's like dressing up as Batman every day. It's not Halloween every day. It's fun on Halloween, but I can't dress up in that outfit every day when I'm not that anymore or never was that guy."

Breuer is readying his next special for a June release on Epix and then Netflix. The title is And Laughter for All, which he said is something everyone can watch.

"I go from subjects from being a 45-year-old metalhead to being a parent to being married for 20 years to taking care of my elderly parents," Breuer said.

Jimmy Geurts can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Jobsite Theater wants to challenge audiences with an adaptation of ‘1984’

Jobsite Theater wants to challenge audiences with an adaptation of ‘1984’

TAMPANow is as good a time as any, since there is no great time to take a deep dark look into the apocalypse of humanity.But history rewards those brave enough to try, from Nostradamus to George Orwell, who are looking more and more like the same bre...
Published: 04/25/18
Performances, songwriting get ‘Waitress’ from serviceable to filling — plus, there’s actually pie

Performances, songwriting get ‘Waitress’ from serviceable to filling — plus, there’s actually pie

TAMPA — A lonely and changeable sky illuminates the top of the stage through most of Waitress, running this week at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. The neon lettering of Joe’s Diner reflects days and nights that don...
Published: 04/25/18
Jobsite cues up ‘1984,’ ‘50 Shades’ parody’s Danielle Trzcinski premieres ‘Little Black Dress’

Jobsite cues up ‘1984,’ ‘50 Shades’ parody’s Danielle Trzcinski premieres ‘Little Black Dress’

MINISTRY OF JOBSITE: 1984When selecting an adaptation for George Orwell’s 1984 (there have been a few of them), Jobsite Theater had to strike the most controversial one off the list. That version by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan ran for 125 perfor...
Published: 04/25/18
Review: American Stage hits ‘The Producers’ out of the park

Review: American Stage hits ‘The Producers’ out of the park

ST. PETERSBURG — Without question, Mel Brooks’ The Producers carved a more indelible mark than most of the musicals in the entire genre of throwaway musicals it parodied.The creator of Get Smart and Blazing Saddles not only co-wrote the adaptation of...
Published: 04/23/18
The Holocaust connection that makes the Florida Orchestra’s Verdi ‘Requiem’ concert special

The Holocaust connection that makes the Florida Orchestra’s Verdi ‘Requiem’ concert special

The Florida Orchestra puts another exclamation point on its 50th season with Verdi’s Requiem, this weekend’s concert series, a major presentation of an iconic work. Composed by Giuseppe Verdi, Requiem debuted in 1874 but took on a new layer of signif...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Freefall flavors 2018-2019 season with comedies and a pair of musicals

Freefall flavors 2018-2019 season with comedies and a pair of musicals

ST. PETERSBURG — In the coming season, Freefall Theatre is rolling out a world premiere, a different take on Christmas, a sharp comedy and a recent work by Pulitzer winner Lynn Nottage. The theme for the 2018-2019 season, "A Brighter Tomorrow," color...
Published: 04/19/18
Desi Oakley savors pie making in ‘Waitress,’ orchestra does Verdi’s Requiem

Desi Oakley savors pie making in ‘Waitress,’ orchestra does Verdi’s Requiem

HEAD WAITRESS: DESI OAKLEYThe blue collar mother who drives the plot of Waitress never thought she could win a pie-making contest, let alone start a business."She doesn’t even have the capacity to understand that she could do this," said Desi Oakley,...
Published: 04/18/18
American Stage sets the table for a splashy park musical ‘The Producers’

American Stage sets the table for a splashy park musical ‘The Producers’

ST. PETERSBURG ­— Think early evening, daylight saving version. The earth turning away, light fading in Demens Landing Park — everywhere except the stage, which is trying its best to resurrect midday. "It looks like New York City at nigh...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Brooksville’s Live Oak Theatre presents ‘ReUnKnighted,’ a medieval misadventure

Brooksville’s Live Oak Theatre presents ‘ReUnKnighted,’ a medieval misadventure

BROOKSVILLE — How about a story about two knights who gain their knighthood, lose it, then gain it back, only to lose it again?That was the concept Kyle Marra pitched nearly three years ago to Randi Olsen, founder and creative director for the Live O...
Published: 04/17/18
Bilingual ‘In the Time of the Butterflies’ shines a light on brutal regime

Bilingual ‘In the Time of the Butterflies’ shines a light on brutal regime

TAMPA — Tampa made its cigars with indispensable help from Cuban immigrants. Today, 22 percent of the population is of Hispanic origin, as defined by the U.S. Census. The Tampa Bay area has increasingly and proudly defined itself as a thriving perfor...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/18/18