‘SNL’ alum Jim Breuer coming to Fat Fish Blue March 8-9Written by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The last time Jim Breuer was in Toledo, he was working on a set of material for a new comedy special being filmed shortly after his Glass City appearance. Now, that special is recorded and ready for distribution. So, what’s Breuer working on this time? Another new special, of course.
“The one that’s filmed comes out this spring — it’ll come out on [premium cable channel] Epix and Netflix,” Breuer said in an interview with Toledo Free Press Star. “So this one I’m working on a whole [new show]. Just started last week and this has got a lot of new material that no one has ever seen before.”
There’s no rest for the seasoned comic. The veteran of “Saturday Night Live,” “Half Baked” and more clearly does not believe in resting on his laurels as he prepares to play the Funny Bone at Fat Fish Blue in Perrysburg on March 8 and 9. He said that developing new material can be a little nerve-racking — but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s a little spooky at first, but I freaking love it. Last week in San Jose, [Calif.], I did pretty much a whole new hour and got a standing O. I was so freaking excited. Because, you know, I have all the material to fall back on, just in case. When I’m doing all the newer stuff, I’ll give them all the other stuff they still haven’t seen yet.
“And I’m pretty confident, too,” Breuer added. “Nobody’s seen all the stuff that I’ve already put on film that hasn’t been released yet. So I’m already locked and loaded with an hour and a half, two hours of playing material.”
Breuer also has another advantage — a seemingly effortless connection to area audiences, exemplified by the tremendous response he’s gotten with each trip through the Glass City.
“For one thing, I consider that area kinda blue-collar, and I relate really well to blue-collar. I grew up like that, my dad grew up in that area,” he said. “So I think that just the blue-collar mentality of how that area grew up, I can relate to it really well.”
In addition to the pressure of developing new material, there’s another facet of Breuer’s new direction. While for years the comic played for a largely adult audience with a more mature set of material, in recent years he’s toned down his act into something a little more family-friendly — a shift that is beginning to pay dividends in the makeup of his audiences.
“I’m starting to see multigenerations showing up. And it’s probably the best stand-up I’ve ever had, hands down. In the past, I was really just trying to — I don’t wanna say ‘shock’ ‘em, but really trying to appease the audience. Well, now, I’m appeasing myself and not trying to appease an audience to just be funny in general. Where now, I think I hit every demographic.”
Many audiences are familiar with Breuer from his most famous gigs, though, most significantly his three-year run as a cast member on NBC institution “Saturday Night Live.” Still, if you ask the man himself, he is much happier being in control of who and what he is onstage every night nowadays.
“‘SNL’ is a different beast. You gotta do characters, and you’re trying to appease an audience. You’re in a certain mold, you’re forced to be in a certain mold. Stand-up, I’m a free entity. I get to go far and wide and do what I want. I’m not edited, and I’m not trying to be a character or do a specific type of comedy.”
That joy of freedom extends now to the way his specials are distributed in the age of streaming video. “In the past, we were kinda pigeonholed with Comedy Central and HBO, or [another] cable network. And the big problem with that is, once they air it, you gotta hope they air it enough times for people to see it, and you’re really only looking at a one-month run of certain times.
“So when Netflix came, I thought this was a perfect match, because I don’t fit on Comedy Central. Their audience is really young boys. Young, like, juvenile-type boys. My audience has broadened. So you’ll be able to watch me at any time. You can download me at 10 am, you can watch me in front of your family … I like that I have that kind of full access now. I like that I don’t have a network going, ‘He’s on at 1 a.m.’ I mean, what kind of parents are up at 1 a.m. to watch me, when they’re my target audience?”
He hasn’t forsaken cable entirely, though — Breuer is also working on a pilot for VH1, as well as a complete revamp of his website. But don’t expect the ever-busy Breuer to completely embrace social networking just yet.
“The tweeting’s not gonna get people in the club. It’s nice for publicity or whatever, but my wheelhouse is onstage. When I’m home, I’m home. I’m a father, I’m also a son with an elderly father who lives with me. I don’t have time to try and be funny all the time. There’s a human side to everyone. I really don’t have that energy that I feel like I need to be on 24/7.”