Thanks to sponsor Comedy Central, comedian Jim Breuer is hitting the road to perform his uncontrollably funny standup at clubs across the country. But maybe "The Lighten Up Tour," which comes to the Tempe Improv this weekend, should really be called the "Lightin' Up Tour" -- either the ultra-talented Breuer puts on a really convincing stoner act, or he truly handles a high with finesse onstage. It could be a little bit of both.
Breuer admits that he's gotten a lot of comedy material from his wild times growing up on Long Island. After starting a standup career in his teens as the opening act for his friends' band ("I got a great response because all three people in the audience were my friends"), Breuer had a few years of aimless, hard-core partying. But as soon as he went back to making people laugh for a living, he was on the road to success, with regular gigs in New York clubs. With his laid-back, almost dazed demeanor and trademark jittery giggle, Breuer quickly made a name for himself and snagged a spot on the nationally syndicated show Uptown Comedy Club, where he stayed for two seasons.
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Besides his many late-night TV show appearances, two Comedy Central specials (including Hard Core, which debuted earlier this year) and even his own short-lived MTV show, Breuer starred in Dick, the comedic retelling of the Watergate scandal, and Half Baked, a tale of pot-smoking pals who sell superpotent, stolen weed to bail their buddy out of jail.
But Breuer's probably best known for his four-year stint on Saturday Night Live, circa 1995-1998, where his wacky Goat Boy character earned him a cult following that still persists. Breuer also developed brilliant impersonations, such as a dead-on Joe Pesci for SNL's "Joe Pesci Show" skits. "You know, I never even used to do impersonations," he says. Now he can't seem to resist them, especially since the recent popularity of The Osbournes gives him an excuse to channel both Ozzy and Sharon.
Tempe Improv, located at 930 East University in Tempe.
Performs on Thursday, September 26, through Sunday, September 29. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 9 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $25 for Thursday and Sunday, $27 for Friday and Saturday. To make reservations, call 480-921-9877.
The rock star persona is a perfect fit for Breuer, who still has a soft spot for head-banging '80s-style heavy metal. "I always wanted to be one of the front men, but I was never in a band," he says with a bit of regret. "I did have a mullet and a cross earring, though!"
With his new national tour, Breuer's rock 'n' roll dream is coming true -- sort of. He performs his standup routine with a back-up band called the Brue Crue, his musically proficient group of friends, who provide what Breuer calls "mood music." Expect the mood to be as rowdy as a metal concert, because Breuer says, "The crowds in Tempe are really great -- they get me so pumped up!" The high point of the concert, er, comedy act promises to be Breuer's shrieking rendition of "The Hokey Pokey," thrashed out à la AC/DC.