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Jim Breuer brings 'not Disney, not dirty' comedy to Pittsburgh

Shirley McMarlin
| Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, 1:33 a.m.

Comedians have to be adaptable.

If jokes fall flat, they have to adjust on the spot to win back the audience.

“Saturday Night Live” veteran Jim Breuer, who will appear on Oct. 19 at the Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall, got an exercise in adapting when he took his wife and daughter to one of Billy Joel’s Madison Square Garden residency concerts.

The March 28 show was his daughter’s 16th birthday gift — her choice, Breuer says, and something of a surprise to her parents.

They went backstage to meet the Piano Man, who invited Breuer to sing AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” with him that night. Of course, the rabid heavy metal fan said yes.

Then he had about 10 songs to think about what he’d done.

“I was freaking out. I was going, ‘What am I doing? I’m not a singer,’” he says. “Then Billy says, ‘We have a special guest,’ and the place goes crazy, like it could be Elton John or Bruce Springsteen or Bono — and I’m thinking, ‘Oh my god, they’re gonna be so disappointed.’

“Then the song starts and I don’t know all the words, so I’m pointing and squatting like a born rocker, but really, there are monitors all around the stage and I’m just reading the lyrics.”

The crowd loved it, but his daughter later confessed that she was freaked out. How would she face her friends if the whole thing went bad?

Not Disney, not dirty

That’s the kind of thing the audience at the music hall show can expect to hear from Breuer, who has left characters like SNL’s “Goat Boy” and stoner Brian from “Half Baked” behind to concentrate on clean, uplifting, family-oriented comedy.

“I felt I had so much more to offer on a deeper level,” he says. “(My show) is deeply family-rooted, not Disney but not dirty, no politics, but relatable to everybody. I‘ve always talked about family stuff, wherever I was at the time in my life.”

The New Jersey-based Breuer has been married to his wife Dee for 25 years, and they have three teen daughters, ages 19, 16 and 13. Staying positive and offering an upbeat message has become even more of a mission for Breuer as Dee battles Stage 4 cancer.

They’ve been through a lot together, he says, from having $200 to their names when they married to dealing with the temptations that come with success and fame.

Leather pants and a kangaroo

“I always said, when I became a star, I’d wear leather pants and get a kangaroo like every other jackass out there. That’s the vanity part,” he says. “But I never cheated, I never turned into a druggie and I was able to stick to my morals. My wife has been such a supporter through all that.

“I realized that my gift is all about spreading a good word, it’s all about the little things I did that touch people,” he says. “My wife will say, ‘There’s one person out there who needs to hear you tonight.’ That stuff is what keeps me going.”

But don’t give Breuer a cardigan and sneakers quite yet. As mentioned before, he loves heavy metal and will actually be in Pittsburgh the night before the music hall show, doing a pre-party for the Metallica concert at PPG Paints Arena.

In addition to his current stand-up gigs, he’s joining the band’s “Worldwired” tour on dates across the U.S.

He’ll come onstage for about an hour-and-a-half before the music starts. “I’m like the host or emcee,” he says. “We’ll bring people onstage, we’ll have contests, metal karaoke, we’ll bring some people backstage. I’ll do 20 or 30 minutes of stand-up.

“I’ve been close friends with Metallica for 20 years, so the fit is perfect. This gig is just too much fun and too easy for me.”

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, or via Twitter @shirley_trib.

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