By Meg O’Neil
Saturday Night Live alumni have been common sights at the Newport Summer Comedy Series this summer. And with the series winding down, there’s only a couple more chances to see the country’s most famous acts at the Newport Yachting Center.
First in the lineup was former Weekend Update Host Dennis Miller, followed by the current Update host and head writer, Seth Meyers. The next cast member set to appear onstage on Thursday, Aug. 16 is Jim Breuer, who starred on the iconic sketch comedy show from 1995 – 1998.
With memorable SNL characters like Goat Boy: the half-man, half-goat, experiment-gone-wrong that hosted a VH1 show called “Hey, Remember the 80s?” and a spot-on impression of Joe Pesci, Breuer’s years spent on SNL launched him in to the limelight and his career today is as hot as ever.
When Breuer left SNL in 1998, he went on to star in the cult stoner comedy “Half Baked,” playing a tie-dyed pothead who tries to come up with crazy schemes to get his friend out of jail.
The two roles, now both over a decade old, still attract fans to Breuer, who says he gets recognized evenly for both characters. “I think it’s neck and neck,” he says. “It seems like those who are a little bit older, 35 year old family guys, recognize me from SNL and everyone else seems to go with ‘Half Baked.’”
With droopy eyelids that have always made fans and critics think Breuer is high, his partying days from SNL are long over, and he now performs a more “clean” act – getting most of his current fodder from his wife and three daughters, aged 13, 11, and 7.
“They’re a big chunk of my show,” he says. “It’s really just me as a dumbfounded father trying to figure out life with my girls; it’s a tough age!”
The family life has moved the Breuer clan to the suburbs of New Jersey, but Breuer spends weeks at a time on the road, bringing his standup act all over the world.
Most recently, he just finished a heavy-metal music themed tour in Europe, where he had singers like Ozzy Osbourne, and James Hetfield of Metallica sing children’s nursery rhymes. “It was freaking great,” Breuer says. “My rock shows were hilarious and it’s going to be a funny song and video special next summer.”
While the crowds in Newport are a far cry from metal heads, Breuer says the second he gets up on a stage, he can read the audience, and adapt to his act to their liking.
“Every single audience is different,” he says. “I never go on in to a place with a set routine. I’ve played everywhere - from really poor, low-income areas to the elite of the elite. As the great Johnny Cash once said, ‘I’ve been everywhere man.’”
And while Breuer’s been everywhere, people from all over the world can connect to him with the click of a button. With a loyal online following called the “Breuniverse,” Breuer has embraced social media, reaching out to fans through multiple platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube; the latter of which has over 3 million video views.
With a successful TV, movie, radio, and book career under his belt, what’s next for Breuer? “I want to write and direct,” he says. “I want to put out standup specials every year, I’ve got a cartoon that I’m working on; but I’d say films are on the top of the list. I want to start directing others and I’m already working on a few of those things.”
There are still good seats available to see Breuer at the Yachting Center on Aug. 16. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased online at NewportComedy.com, TicketMaster.com, the center’s box office at 4 Commercial Wharf, and by phone at (800)745-3000