INTERVIEW: Jim Breuer

Jim BreuerOkay, so if you’ve been reading the site or following me on Twitter lately, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been developing a bit of an interest in stand-up comedy. I guess I need to find an interest outside of music to keep things fresh, since music is my life’s passion as well as my day job. Anyway, I was just going through some files when I stumbled upon this interview from last year with comedian and fellow metal-obsessive Jim Breuer. Hopefully some of you might like reading about someone who loves metal as much as we do, but approaches it from a different perspective. Don’t worry, I’m not turing the site into I Heart Comedy or anything. Here’s the interview:

Comedian. Dad. Saturday Night Live anumni. Documentary maker. Goat Boy. Metalhead. Jim Breuer has done it all and he ain’t done yet. From co-starring in the stoner classic Half Baked with Dave Chapelle in 1998 to hosting Metallica’s 30th Anniversary four-night run in San Francisco in late 2011, Breuer is adaptable, affable, quick on his feet and hilarious. Breuer sees his appeal as being universal, and maybe a bit off-model from what those who know him from SNL or his earlier work might expect. “My style relates to everyone,” he says. “I’m a very big storyteller, I’m a very animated storyteller, and there’s a lot of family stuff. I live in a multigenerational family. I have a 90-year-old World War II vet that I take care of in my house with the help of a nurse, I have an 85-year-old mother, I’ve got three kids, I’ve been married for 18 years. I would say I’m like a modern-day Cosby, except instead of a sweater I’m wearing a Metallica shirt and jeans. I think I’m the only guy out there that really kills on stage but yet you think I should be cursing and swearing up a storm, yet you leave realising ‘Wow, that guy didn’t say one bad word.'” Breuer puts this down to when he became a dad for the first time, and realising he wanted to be able to let his kids see his work.

Having said that, Breuer works in plenty of his biggest passion: heavy metal. “It’s the energy, the attitude, everything that comes with it. What attracted me was it was so anti pop, anti pop culture… I can’t take pop culture. I can’t stomach it. I can’t stand it. And I felt metal was a great release. Was there silly metal? Yeah. But what attracted me was the lyrics. And not that there’s anything against it, but every song wasn’t just about going out and picking up chicks: ‘We’re gonna get wasted tonight,’ and ‘lick my rear end from behind,’ and big tits. I’m listening to Judas Priest’s Electric Eye, which is basically the book 1984. I loved the lyrics of every single band I was into.” In fact, Breuer’s pet project is a heavy metal comedy set, complete with band. He tested the waters with it a few years ago in England at the Sonisphere festival. “It’s like hard rock and stand-up comedy mixed together,” Breuer says. “I think that’s my future, to be honest with you. It’s like these cool hooks to to get the crowds chanting, and then instead of lyrics it’s just great storytelling and standup.”

If anyone doubts Breuer’s ability to combine the two passions, just check out the videos on YouTube of him duetting with Skid Row’s Sebastian Bach or Judas Priest’s Rob Halford. Dude can definitely hold his own in the hard rock vocal stakes. He also performed on the MTV Icon: Metallica special in 2003, where he sang kids’ songs in the style of Metallica’s James Hetfield: “You grow up and you go ‘Wow, I wish I could have known this was going to happen!'”

Breuer looks back on his SNL days with a mix of nostalgia and …do I hear a hint of frustration? “It really doesn’t reflect anything on what I do stand-up wise,” he says of those days at 30 Rock. “I got that show being a comedian, and I’m probably one of the only ones who really didn’t want to be on the show. They were very adamant about hiring me, and I really never had a dream of being on Saturday Night Live. When I got it, it was exciting and I had a good run. But at the end of the day I thrive on stand-up comedy.” So why didn’t SNL take the opportunity to give the cast their stand-up moments? After all, that’s where most of them came from. “You know, that’s a brilliant question, and a very simple one. You almost make me want to produce a sketch show that allows the cast to do their stand-up. I would warm up every show doing stand-up. I’d do ten minutes to warm the crowd up, and I loved it. There were times when I wouldn’t make the show, but I would just crush doing the stand-up. And it was sort of my ‘Oh yeah? Well take that, because you’re not even going to see me during the show.’ But stand-up works, and what’s great too is it goes in waves and I think right now it’s on a pretty good wave on the way back.”