Laughter the best medicine for Dover-bound comedian Breuer

DOVER — If you think you know comedian Jim Breuer from his years on “Saturday Night Live” or his stoned-out role as Brian in the cult comedy “Half Baked,” it might be best to think again.

Mr. Breuer, known by television fans for his Goat Boy and Joe Pesci characterizations on “SNL” from 1995 to 1998, brings his family-friendly comedy act to Dover Downs Hotel and Casino July 31 at 9 p.m.

It’s been a change for the 48-year-old Mr. Breuer to lose the profanity and drug-based laughs of his earlier work but it’s been a change for the better says the father of three daughters.

“Once the Internet came out and my kids started searching for clips, I realized that I cursed unnecessarily. None of my material was filthy but I would just curse for the easy laugh,” he said Tuesday morning by phone from his home in Chester, New Jersey.

“It was a full-blown conscious decision. I wanted my kids and their friends to be excited to see my stuff. So I just took the approach to work harder and be smarter to try to get the funny lines in there without saying certain words.”

Comedian Jim Breuer, known to television, radio and movie fans, will talk about family life and everyday happenings when he brings his standup comedy act to Dover Downs Hotel and Casino’s Rollins Center at 9 p.m. July 31. Submitted photo/Gregory Pallante

Comedian Jim Breuer, known to television, radio and movie fans, will talk about family life and everyday happenings when he brings his standup comedy act to Dover Downs Hotel and Casino’s Rollins Center at 9 p.m. July 31. Submitted photo/Gregory Pallante

Although perhaps not for kids because these are adult-oriented topics, he talks a lot in his act about his family, marriage, caring for elderly parents and everyday life as a middle-aged guy, as evidenced by his recent EPIX TV special titled “Comic Frenzy”.

It’s not what some people might expect when they come to see one of his shows.

“I’ve definitely dealt with that but not a lot of it anymore. But yeah, I suppose there are still some who come to see the guy from ‘SNL’ or ‘Half Baked,’” he said.

“But I think what happens is that the standup comedy is so powerful and so bigger than the rest of the other stuff that no matter what they came for, they leave more excited that they got more than they thought they were going to get.”

His 2009 Comedy Central standup special “Let’s Clear the Air” where he dealt with more family-friendly topics not only went on to become one of the highest-rated specials in the network’s history but helped him turn the corner in his comedy career.

“I knew it was going to take some time but that special really helped say ‘I know you know me from “SNL” but this is my comedy. This is what I’m all about now.’ I think it’s the best thing I could have done,” said Mr. Breuer, who was named one of Comedy Central’s “100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time.”

His says the material he does about his kids don’t have a real effect on them nor does the fact that he was featured in one of the most iconic shows in television history.

“All they care about is that we’re able to cut the line at Disney World or if there is an hour wait in a restaurant, we’re able to get in now,” he said.

“They don’t know the specifics of my time at ‘SNL’. The only time they will get impressed is when they ask ‘Did you really work with Will Ferrel?’ ‘Do you know Adam Sandler?’ They care more about that stuff than do me sometimes.”

Mr. Breuer has seen his share of family tragedy over the last year, losing his father in August and then his sister to cancer in October.

His wife Dee currently is battling cancer of the lymph nodes. This follows an earlier bout of breast cancer for which she had a double mastectomy.

He says his humor comes in handy in dealing with such tragic moments.

“My wife is a pretty powerful person. We’ve always tackled everything by being upbeat and finding the funny. We don’t sit around and mope about our troubles,” he said.

A recent video on his Facebook page showed him comically giving his wife a hard time while she is going through chemotherapy, teasing her about having no time for this.

It was titled “Things you DON’T say to your wife when she’s getting chemo!”

He said the reaction that he got from it has been overwhelming.

“I got emails from people telling me that they were going through chemo and watched that video and they were inspired by it and this bonded the family through some rough times,” Mr. Breuer said.

“That means the world to me. When you’ve touched someone’s life and kept them from feeling depressed, that’s very gratifying.”

Among the many Facebook videos he posts are ones where he discusses the New York Mets, the team that the Long Island native has loved since he was young.

He got a chance to throw out the first ball at a Mets game in May, which was a dream come true.

“I was excited that I was able to throw a strike right down the middle,” he said.

“It was going to be real ugly if I missed. Then I got to go up in the broadcast booth and call a home run on the first pitch. It was like catching lightning in a bottle.”

Satellite radio fans know Mr. Breuer from his weekly Sirius show and his many appearances with morning stalwart Howard Stern, who counts Mr. Breuer among his favorite comedians.

“I try not wrap my head around that too hard, said Mr. Breuer, with obvious amazement in his voice.

“I try to stay humble about that stuff but I’d be a liar if I said I just sit back and it doesn’t mean anything to me that I’ve made that guy howl with laughter.

“He is the Johnny Carson of our time. If you kill on his show, you’ve really made it. It really resonates with people. He’s opened me up to his tremendous fans and it’s really made a difference.”

Mr. Breuer’s next project takes him away from comedy and into music where this week he finished recording a heavy metal album.

A fan of the genre since the 1980s, he wrote all of the lyrics and sings songs that again reflect his family life and on topics not necessarily found on your typical Judas Priest recording.

“I think it’s going to blow people out of the water. I had the best time of my life recording it. I’m so excited for people to hear it,” he said.

The album, which will feature a variety of big-name heavy metal musicians, is due to be released in April.

Tickets for the 9 p.m. Dover show are for $35 to $55, and may be purchased by calling VIP services at (800) 711-5882 or visiting DoverDowns.com.

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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