Star of ‘Half Baked’ and ‘SNL,’ Jim Breuer, performs in Lake Tahoe
If you go ...
What: Jim Breuer
When: Saturday, Jan. 27, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Harrah’s Lake Tahoe
Tickets: Start at $25.68
Jim Breuer is often recognized for his work on the 1998 film “Half Baked” and multiple seasons of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” but the comedian’s first love is stand-up — and for the first time, he’s bringing a set to Tahoe.
On Saturday, Jan. 27, the performer headlines Harrah’s Lake Tahoe at 7:30 p.m. as part of his all-new 2018 tour, which covers a variety of topics relatable to all. Prior to his show, we chatted with Breuer about what to expect this weekend, what it was like working alongside Will Ferrell on “SNL,” and much, much more.
Action: What should guests expect from the tour?
Breuer: I love touring. This is all I’ve been doing for the last 10 years. This is where my passion is driven from. This is how I started my whole life in ’89. It’s very, very, very relatable comedy. I don’t do politics; I don’t do news much. It’s all family relatable, all multi-generational.
It’s family therapy at the end of the day. I talk about turning 50, where my life is at, I talk about mortality, talk about teenage daughters, marriage for 25 years, elderly care. There’s plenty of stuff in there for everybody, but I also improv a lot, too. A lot of times I improv the first 15 to 20 minutes. I know this is the 20-year anniversary of the movie “Half Baked,” so I may do a Q&A at the end of the show.
Your material has changed over time. What prompted that?
Just life — what I can relate to. I’m a dad; I’m a husband of 25 years. I’m a dad for 18 years. I don’t try to appease people; I go with what I know, and what I know is being 50 and having kids and being a dad and all that jazz. I can only talk about what I know, which is another reason why I keep clear of all the other stuff.
Has the approach to your routines changed?
No, not at all. I’ve been pretty much the same my whole life, my whole career, especially on stage. I’m a storyteller; I’m animated in my stories. And it’s really been the approach since day one.
Usually people who see me end up seeing me multiple times. And usually what gets them there is they think, “It’s the guy from ‘Saturday Night Live,’” or they think it’s the guy they’ve seen on TV. That’s a completely different person than what you see live.
Describe the “SNL” experience.
At the time it was perfect for where I was at in life. It was extremely exciting, it was frustrating, it was a lot of work, it was rewarding — extremely rewarding. It was one of the best times I had; at the same time one of the toughest times I had. As a comedian you rely on yourself. When you’re on a show you’re relying on a lot of other people.
It’s frustrating because you’re competing with a lot of egos. It’s extremely hard to compete with an ego. You have all different ages, all different personalities. You have some people with moral codes and some people with absolutely zero moral codes. That’s a frustrating environment to be around.
Did anything from “SNL” translate to where you are now?
I think the only thing that I really took out of that was where I stand as a person. I grew up blue collar, a very family-oriented moral guy. I learned a lot about show business on that show, where none of those things exist.
It made me realize how to balance real life with vanity and show business, where you’re really just a product. That goes in all jobs, but that one definitely I learned a lot from.
You’ve worked with guys like Will Ferrell and Dave Chappelle — what’s that like?
Well, I know once — Will, when I was on [“SNL”] with him — that guy can make anything funny. I remember him doing a table read where he had no lines; he just ate a sandwich and I don’t know why it was so damn funny. He is probably one of the most talented entertainers of our time, and just a sweet, good-hearted individual.
He’s been with the same woman forever; he’s always had his family around. That’s why I had a connection with him. We may not have been best friends, but I really, really respected him for not only just his on-screen thing, but his off-screen. He always had his family around, always his brother, at the time his girlfriend, his mom would be there. That stuff I respect more than having your gang or your entourage.
I remember one time, too, he came dressed as a character — he would dress up as a character for over a week and you could only address him as that character.
And of course, the other guys, being around Dave was just like being around one of the most brilliant, insightful, deep humans I’ve ever met in my life. I learned from all of them.
What did you learn?
To dig a little deeper. My stand-up is funny, it’s animated storytelling, but I do like to press a little deeper with what’s on the surface. Dave goes extremely deep at times; I’d like to think I go there as well, but maybe not as deep as Dave, though.
You’ve worked in TV, stand-up, radio… Is there one you like most?
Hands down, stand-up. Although at the time I would say writing. I’m starting to write scripts and screenplays and hopefully they’ll turn into something in a year or two.
I guess that’s a control issue. That is the only place where I’m OK if I fail, which I rarely, rarely do. I write it, I direct it, I control the whole hour and 15 minutes. If I fail it’s OK, it’s on me. There’s no one else to blame but myself.
And that instant reaction of laughter. I’ve tried radio — radio’s phenomenal — podcasts are great, I just don’t know if people are reacting. I love that I can be on stage and I see that instant reaction. There’s no better adrenaline rush in the world than making someone laugh.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
Hands down, that sensation [of making people laugh]. I learned that when I was younger. I would walk in a room, I’d find the angriest looking individual — I still do that. If you’re in the audience and I see you’re not laughing or you’re preoccupied, I zone you out. I go right into you.
I don’t know what’s going on in your life, I don’t know if you have some tragedy going on, if you just bickered with whoever you love, if something’s going down — but I’m there to take you away for that hour and 15.
There’s no better feeling in the world than when someone comes up to me and goes, “I just lost so and so,” or “We were just diagnosed with this, and this is the first time we laughed in a long time.” That’s a healing power. That’s better than anything the doctor’s going to prescribe.
Breuer’s gig is open to all audiences at least 21 years of age. Tickets begin at $25.68, plus tax and fees, and are available online via Ticketmaster.