Jim Breuer: "I'm Addicted to Watching People Belly Laugh"

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We talked to Jim about why his love of stand up never wavered, his days acting on SNL, and what it was like being on the set of Half Baked. And if you'd like to see Jim onstage doing what he does best, he'll be at the Fort Lauderdale Improv on February 19, and at the West Palm Beach Improv on February 20.

But until then, get to know the man a little bit. He swears he's not as high as you think.

New Times: A lot of people know you from SNL, but you've gone on to do a lot of other things. Was the transition from SNL to things like stand up hard? Did you find people expecting certain things from you?

Jim Breuer: In the beginning I found myself trying to appeal, and be something that I wasn't. But everything I've ever done that led me to anything was stand up comedy. It was stand up comedy that got me to Saturday Night Live. You have to establish yourself really well, and it's all starting to come around.

SNL really seemed like such an odd and uncertain environment. Everyone was always wondering if they'd still have a job the next week. Was SNL a stressful environment, or was it fun?

It was everything. It was like any other great job. It was really exciting. It was really fun. It was hard. It was stressful. It was everything. But I didn't leave there going, "Oh, that was the worst thing ever." I left there really happy. I could have stayed there longer, but my experience overall -- I really enjoyed it there. Of course it was hard and frustrating at times, but so is every other job. People get hopped up over jobs like Saturday Night Live because in their head they think it's so much bigger, but, as corny as it sounds, people working any other job feel the same things. "Oh, the boss doesn't like me, and I'm going to get fired." It's the same emotions just much bigger.

Did the shine of SNL fade pretty quickly? Did it end up just feeling like another job?

Every time you think the shock wears away, I'd get shocked again. Like, "Oh, my God, there's Mick Jagger just hanging out. Oh, my God, I'm on Saturday Night Live. There's Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro!" So, no, for me it didn't.

I hear every SNL alumni try to describe Lorne Michaels, and no one really seems to be able to. What did he mean to you?

To me, and I think a lot of cast members, he was a tremendous mentor. And I was too immature to understand half the things he'd say. I was too emotionally involved. But as time went on, I remembered the little tips he would give me. They were absolutely brilliant, and I wish I was able to listen to them a little better. He's a guy that gives you wisdom, but really wants you to figure it out. I think he's brilliant.

So he just wants to give you a little push then have you start peddling on your own?

Yeah. You'll figure it out. I remember him once saying to me, "Jim, this year try and be the straight guy. Your face tells a lot of stories. I know you like going big, but this year try to be subtle." And it's funny because when I do stand up, that is where I'm at my best -- when I'm subtle. He's just a brilliant guy. But he's hard to figure out, because you're emotionally involved when you're there.

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Ryan Pfeffer is Miami New Times’ music editor. After earning a BS in editing, writing, and media from Florida State University, Ryan joined the New Times staff in November 2013 as a web editor, where he coined the phrase "pee-tweet" (to retweet someone while urinating). Born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, he’s now neck-deep in bass and booty in the 305.
Contact: Ryan Pfeffer