As one of the top stand-up comedians touring today, funnyman Jim Breuer has been evolving his craft since his successful run on “Saturday Night Live” in the late ’90s and his ever-hilarious bits as “Goat Boy” and his spot-on impersonation of Joe Pesci. Today, he describes himself as “Cosby with a leather jacket,” and has expanded his reach off the stage to a podcast and home videos, such as a rudimentary character called “Fingerman,” all of which he posts on his social media sites for his fans. Breuer speaks with VEGAS.com about his upcoming shows in Las Vegas, his family and his ongoing development as a stand-up comedian.
When you perform in Vegas this November, will you be revisiting some of your popular characters, like Joe Pesci?
It depends on the night. I don’t rely on any of that stuff. I have a special out now called “And Laughter for All” on Netflix, and the special before that, and this new hour, doesn’t have any of that stuff. My A game has always been stand-up comedy. It’s clean and all that. It’s Cosby with a leather jacket, basically.
Or a Metallica jacket.
Yeah, yeah I’ve heard that one. That’s my favorite one. Cosby with a Metallica shirt (and) jacket. So, with that said, on this tour I have not brought that up at all and people really haven’t requested it. However, it all depends where I’m at. Some places, people come to see me three, four, five times, and they know I’m a great stand-up. Where others, you know, I haven’t played this (Orleans) casino, so it might attract a different crowd. I’ll give them the hour I want, and then I’ll open the door to whatever they want to hear. … I crush it. I crush it hard. I’m the Springsteen of stand-up. I give it my all.
How do you do that?
What I’ll do is, ‘Alright, did anyone come here and you were dying to see something that I haven’t done tonight?’ Then they’ll start shouting out what they want to hear. And a lot of times, it’s not even (Joe) Pesci and Goat (Boy) anymore. It’s stuff they heard on the internet in other bits. That’s what it turned into now.
You’ve been brutally honest about your early career and seem to have come a long way since. You seem to have had something of a turning point in 2008. You were mentioning that people in the past used to expect Goat Boy or Bryan from “Dazed and Confused.” But a lot of your stand-up revolves around your family, including your adorable 90-year-old dad and your three girls.
There’s enough material there for a lifetime.
And you keep something like a video diary on Facebook. What got you involved in that?
I’ve been approached a couple times for reality shows and I also know a lot of people in the reality world, and I also know how fake and staged it all is, although the general public has no clue. When I would pitch a reality show, I would say, I don’t need fake actors to be coming in and out of my life, and we don’t need drama. Real life is entertaining itself. Drama is part of real life. You don’t have to go and seek it. And no one really would grasp that concept. So, long story short, I decided, well, I don’t need to do a whole half hour show. Why don’t I just start giving little clips – 30 seconds here, a minute here, a minute-and-a-half here – my real life and my real home. I’m going to do more. I can’t believe the way people responded to it. I’m averaging 80,000 views every time I put up 30 seconds! That really blew my mind. And I realized, I’m on to something. I have more and more coming, and it’s going to help me develop – again, staying on the path of, now I control my destiny. I’ll edit the way I want to edit, and I’ll let you see what I want to see. That’s the way I’ve always done best in my life, and I think most people do.
Does that go back to your spirituality? And does that influence your stand-up?
Oh, God yes, absolutely. There’s a lot of funny fish-out-of-water stuff because I went through a stage where I’m very spiritual and had a close death in my family. I’ve lost best friends, I’ve lost my brother. I didn’t grow up in a church environment, my mother was a prayer. My wife is more on the Jesus route, so when she went that route, that was a whole sitcom. So here I am in the garage blasting Judas Priest and “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC and she’s in the other room listening to Christian music.
Well, they’ve got some Christian rock. That’s kinda the same, right?
Yeah, you know, uh-uh.
I was cracking up on some of your videos, including the four shots of espresso one.
Yeah, ha ha. There’s one where I’m really annoyed at my daughter, there’s one where I’m negotiating with my daughter.
Oh, yeah. That was funny. I also saw the one where your dad thought he was going to Hollywood.
Yeah, making a movie! He has dementia. I shot one last night and it was funny as hell, but it’s rated R. I thought last night, if I put this on Facebook it will explode! (He then explained the video off-the-record – it’s cute.) That is something I’m going to save for when God finally takes him away. That will be a moment. I’ll put that on Facebook – ‘Here’s one of his last words. May not be appropriate for small ears.’ But it’s still funny. I belly laughed so hard when he said that!
What has Fingerman been up to lately?
(laughs) That’s really funny. Fingerman, I think, is going to make a Christmas appearance. I want to do a bunch of characters for Facebook at Christmas time, during the holidays. So, he’ll be coming out again (laughs).
Any crazy Vegas stories from past visits here?
(laughs) Ha! I’m the most boring – basically, no. I’ve been playing Vegas since ’90, been with the same woman since then, we’re married 20 years, was dating her then. I don’t have any lost-my-pants, passed-out-in-the-desert stories. I don’t gamble, so the end of the story, no. When I go to Vegas, I love seeing any of the Cirque du Soleil shows. I love all their shows. I go out of my way to try to see those shows. That’s my big excitement going to Vegas. And I like taking drives out into the desert. Love it. I like going to Lake Mead and hanging out in the middle of nowhere.
I love playing (Vegas). November is a good month. I may do something, kind of a surprise, on stage depending on who may show up. In November I have a holiday song coming out, which I think is going to be pretty monstrous. And I launch my podcast too. They’re all on Facebook. I’m a Facebook geek. I think I found my home doing my videos there.
Jim Breuer performs at 8 p.m. Nov. 1 and 2 at the Orleans Showroom.