To say the very least, it must be really fun to be Jim Breuer. In 2018, or any year, really.
The stand-up veteran has had the chance to sing a cover of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” with Billy Joel in front of a sold-out Madison Square Garden this past March, almost went on stage to sing “Let There Be Rock” with Foo Fighters when they played MSG earlier this summer, and to complete the holy trifecta of rock and roll madness, he’s been opening up for Metallica on their current North American leg of their critically-acclaimed WorldWired tour, hosting the “Light It Up” pre-show party every night.
He’s already had a full year, but his gritty, blue-collar Long Island DNA knows no chill. Breuer will embark on a handful of stand-up dates to fill his calendar while Metallica is taking a break, and one of those dates will land him at Medford’s Chevalier Theatre this Friday night (September 21). Medford best be ready.
“I’ve been on tour with Metallica, right? So one night I’ll be doing my own show, and the next I’ll be opening for Metallica, so I’m really gathering so much swagger and momentum right now,” Breuer tells Vanyaland during a recent chat. “It’s going to be great timing for that poor little Medford theatre that I’m going to beat the snot out of.”
That swagger will certainly come in handy for Breuer, as he is fully aware of the intensity of the Boston comedy scene, and the expectations that the crowds hold when they make their way to the comedy clubs. Regardless of the intimidating qualities of Boston comedy crowds, Breuer still has an affinity for the area, for a few reasons beyond the obvious.
“I love anything near Boston,” he says. “My favorite places to play are Long Island, Boston, and Philadelphia. We’re all kind of the same people. We have this blue collar mentality, we have passion for our sports teams, and I hate the Yankees. So, it really is a perfect marriage. Any time I’m headed to Boston, I’m just extremely comfortable, and I have the mentality that Boston crowds expect a little more out of me, so I come to punish them.”
Aside from being one of the most well-known stand-ups to take the stage over the last 30 years, Mets-fan Breuer is also a devout metalhead, and he claims that whenever he hears classic Metallica tracks like “Damage Inc.,” “Holier Than Thou,” and “Sad But True,” he experiences a “non-human” feeling that usually requires him to be isolated from company for the duration of the song. That feeling was met with surrealism when Metallica frontman James Hetfield reached out to see if Breuer would be interested in opening up for the band.
Hetfield came to him with the idea of a new format to open their shows. After exchanging some messages with the frontman, communication hit a stand-still. That was until Metallica’s management team reached back out to Breuer a few months later to revisit the idea, and Breuer didn’t need much time to jump at the chance — which is a good thing, since he didn’t really have a whole lot of time to think about it.
“[Metallica’s] manager came to see me on a Sunday afternoon,” Breuer explains, “and told me he wanted to show me the dates. I told him I was up for it, and he was like ‘Great! We announce it tomorrow!’ So I got together with Lars [Ulrich], and he explained that because we had been around each other for so long, and I knew him and the rest of the guys, and we had some stories, he wanted me to go up on stage and tell those stories.”
After the first show, Breuer explains that things really started to get zoned in, and he figured out how to do his thing. It’s been such an experience for Breuer, a renowned metalhead in the comedy scene, that he has begun to document his time on the road with videos, which fans can view for a donation to his Patreon account.
“Sometimes, I’ll go out and do 20 or 30 minutes of stand-up, sometimes 45, and I’ll have a DJ that plays all kinds of songs,” he says. “We do cool interactive stuff with fans, and we call it the ‘miracle time’ where we find the best possible thing we can do with the crowd,” Breuer said about his role as emcee. “We’ve done a lip-synch contest, I crashed a wedding that was happening right next door and brought the bride and groom onto the stage where they did their first dance in front a Metallica crowd. Every night, I feel like I’m the emcee of the greatest metal show on earth. To say the least, it’s pretty cool.”
By all intents and purposes, 2018 has treated the former Saturday Night Live cast member extremely well. But while it’s given his career a new jolt of energy in the present-tense, it’s also harbored some milestone 20-year anniversaries, as well.
In 1998, Breuer saw the beginning and end of his quick-lived brainchild, The Jim Breuer Show on VH1, as well as the end of his time as a Saturday Night Live cast member, and he played Dave Chappelle’s friend, Brian, in the cult classic Half Baked.
While he doesn’t discount the effect those anniversaries have had on him and his career, he’s more focused on what the last decade has had in store for him. Early in his career, Breuer told his parents that he wanted to dedicate the rest of his life to entertainment. The next decade proved to be successful, but something came along that made him change his perspective immediately.
“My family has always been way more important in my life,” Breuer says. “Family is all we have left until our last dying breath, so I side-tracked myself for a little while. But once the kids started to get a little older around 2008, I went back to doing stand-up for the rest of my life, but on a different term. I’m not trying to get TV or films, or go to LA. I don’t like that scene, and I despise that scene… Once I came back, though, I knew I could crush it, and whatever little things happen along the way, then so be it. I look at myself now, 10 years later, after being able to take my dad [who passed away in 2014] out on the road, and just changing my perspective on everything. Now I do it for the passion, to make people feel good, and I gotta tell y, I’m loving the life I have.”
Jim Breuer is on top of the world, but even as he continues to trek the country with the biggest metal band alive, he remains humble in his involvement with some of the most well-known entities in pop culture history. “Sometimes I feel like I’m the Forrest Gump of comedy. ‘One time, I was on a big show called Saturday Night Live, and worked with a big star named Will Ferrell. He didn’t know how big he’d be. And this other time, I was singing in front of a sold out Madison Square Garden with this guy named Billy Joel.’ I’m doing everything I wanted to do as a kid, and I’ll tell ya what, it makes me feel like a kid again.”