You might find this hard to believe, but Jim Breuer is not stoned.
The comedian looks stoned. His eyes droop. Sometimes he slurs when he speaks.
He can slump his shoulders and lumber about with a few well-choreographed drag steps and you will be convinced he’s three sheets to the wind.
“I look whacked, which is great because everyone’s expectations are below zero,” Breuer spouted out during a phone call two weeks ago to talk about his show tonight at the Fox Tucson Theatre.
Actually, Breuer doesn’t really drink.
And he doesn’t curse.
Which is surprising to people who remember his “Saturday Night Live” days or the stoner role he played in the 1998 cult classic film “Half Baked.”
He was that character the last time we saw him on a Tucson stage, at Laff’s Comedy Caffe in 2000. He slipped into his signature “Goat Boy” persona and talked in animated terms about the changes in his wife’s body after she gave birth months earlier to his first daughter. He apologized to the couple in the front row who were eating and advised them to eat fast; it was only going to get worse.
But not long after that Laffs show, he and his wife welcomed daughter No. 2; No. 3 came a couple years after that. Then a few years ago, his 90-year-old father moved in with him when his dementia got to the point that Breuer’s 87-year-old mother couldn’t care for his father.
Breuer’s comedy grew up.
“I always talk about what’s in my life, and what’s in my life now is 20 years of marriage and three daughters and a father that lives with me,” Breuer, 46, said from his New Jersey home in early November. “The material changed dramatically, but my attitude and how I perform it hasn’t changed.”
His comedy falls squarely under the category of “clean,” which means you won’t hear him curse or speak explicitly about sex. But that doesn’t mean you are in for an evening of Disney purity or corny comedy. Breuer likes to describe himself as “a modern-day Cosby but with a Metallica shirt” — a description a fan coined several years ago.
“People leave my show going, ‘I don’t think he cursed. It’s amazing.’ You think I should have been dirty, but I’m not,” said Breuer, who released a documentary, “More Than Me,” in 2010 that chronicled his travels with his father as his dementia was kicking in. “It’s just this whole attitude. I’m still a storyteller; I’m still animated. I still put up a lot of energy. I still love it.”
Among the things we can expect to hear tonight:
Kids don’t need cellphones: “My 14-year-old does not have a phone. Some people would call that barbaric in this day and age. But I’m like ‘No, I’m not giving you a phone because all your friends have one. I’m not doing that.’ It goes right to Internet, right to pornography. Kids don’t even use the phone; you can use an iPod. They don’t even talk. They Snapchat. That’s how they communicate.”
Father of the year? Maybe: “I’m fun. … When I’m home, I’m home. I’m not running around. I love being with my kids. I love being with my family. We travel a lot together. I make sure we are entertained every summer because I know family is not around forever. … I won’t say I’m a great dad, but I’d say I’m pretty kick-butt.”
A lesson in compassion: “My dad has dementia right now and it’s really, really entertaining. He thinks we’re in 1947, but he knows who I am, which is the weird part. … He can recall specific details from his World War II experiences and he knows me and he knows I do shows. We traveled a lot together. He’s always asking ‘What time’s the show tonight?’ He knows that, he knows baseball, but if I were to ask him what he had for breakfast, he would have no clue.”
Breuer said he gets the biggest laughs when he talks about taking care of his father.
“I have so many people come up to me after the show and say, ‘I take care of my mom or my in-laws. I see it in a whole new light’,” he said.
“A lot of people struggle with (caring for their elderly parents). We weren’t taught that. We went through this bizarre stage in this country where it was be all you can be, make all you want and tune everyone out because they don’t deserve it,” he said. “It’s an unhealthy and reckless attitude that we’ve taken on in the last 20 years. … The end of life is the most important thing in the world.”