Comedian Jim Breuer on Spirituality, Not Being Baked, and Performing at the Improv

​This is not your stoned uncle's Jim Breuer, that's for sure.

The 40-something year old comedian and actor noted for roles on Saturday Night Live and Half Baked took a break from the comedy scene.

But now, Breuer's back and has toured across the country, released a Comedy Central special (Let's Clear the Air) with another one on the way, and written a book called I'm Not High (But I've Got a Lot of Crazy Stories about Life as a Goat Boy, a Dad, and a Spiritual Warrior).

We caught up with Breuer before he takes the stage this week at the Tempe Improv (where Bryan Ricci will be opening for him).

What brought you back?
I really missed it. I was on the radio everyday for a long time, and I still do a satellite radio show every Friday. We had a great show. I guess I'm addicted to the instant reaction. 

I think it was about my fourth or fifth year of the show, and the club was half empty for a show in Chicago. They were like, "What happened to you? Where'd you go?" I was on the radio! I just remember killing that whole weekend but in front of a half-empty house. And I just felt like, aw man, I want packed houses again, and I want to be able to kill it again, and start a new chapter in stand-up.

Has your role as a father affected your comedy?
I would say I'm Bill Cosby if he wore a Metallica shirt. That'd be the best analogy: the modern day Cosby but with a Metallica, "blue collar" edge.

What are your hopes for your book? 
The real stories I wanted to put out there were those deeper, spiritual stories, but I didn't want to put a book just about that out. I knew I had to put a lot of entertaining, very funny stories. But those stories mean a lot to me. I found myself, after shows or just hanging out, talking to people about this stuff. That's the most stimulating talk to anybody. It's comedy and deep, deep talk. I really wanted to let people in on that side because I thought a lot of people would relate to what I put in that book. Which they do. We don't really put that stuff out in the open, because it's taboo. 

What's your method for writing jokes?
I'd say the majority of my stuff comes from visuals. I'm a storyteller and I act out my stories. For instance, one I'm gonna be trying is how to get my first kid to sleep. It really came out of a conversation. What I do is try to find the funny, physical visual out of that. I'm very attracted funny, visual stuff. I'm not a "joke joke" guy.

Since you're preparing for your upcoming Comedy Central special, will you be using the same jokes and material this weekend?
Only a couple. I don't do a set thing each night. I'll do set bits, but pretty much every show is different because I'm in different moods. Usually Thursday nights are my best nights to see me, because I don't have a second show. I can do more and I can really feel the crowd and give them what they want. Fridays and Saturdays are good shows but they're very tight and organized. Each show is really different. If I see there's a more mature audience, I'm gonna go more toward my family stuff. If I see they're younger, I'll give them stories I know they wanna hear.

What's the draw of the Improv?
I couldn't tell you. The only thing I could tell you is it's a very well-run room, what I mean by that is they are conditioned for stand-up comedy. It's been like that for over a decade. Ask any comedian, that's one of their favorite rooms in the whole country. I don't know if it's the sun or the people that come out. I don't know what it is, but that is by far everyone's favorite room. I started three of my tours at that club just so I could feel good.

Jim Breuer will be performing at the Tempe Improv this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. Shows begin at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, and 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The Improv is located at 930 East University Drive. Tickets are $25. Check out the Tempe Improv's website to purchase tickets.

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Joseph Schmidt
Contact: Joseph Schmidt