It’s easy being funny when you’re young and joking about all-night parties, bad roommates and horrific dating experiences.
Then you grow up and become “that sandwich generation guy.”
Jim Breuer, once a fresh-faced Saturday Night Live cast member (remember Goat Boy?), is now a standup comic entrenched in middle age. He’s been married to the same woman for 20 years, has three daughters, and an 89-year-old father with dementia who lives with him.
In other words, Breuer said he has a “huge untapped reservoir” of family-related humour at his disposal.
“I never run out of material,” added the 45-year-old, who believes nothing is off-limits. “When I say family humour, some people think soft humour. But my humour’s not soft. I go to crack up the room . . . with (jokes) based on honesty and rawness.”
Breuer, who performs on Sunday, Nov. 18, at Red Deer’s Memorial Centre with the Just for Laughs tour, lays life out the way it is.
For instance, he reveals how his mother, “who’s still alive, but blind in one eye” abandoned his confused father late in the game to live independently in a seniors home.
She can’t really look after his dad and wants to spin her “chassis” while she can, said the comic, who can understand his mom’s desire to squeeze the last few good drops out of life.
People need to find the humour in all situations or “it would be too much,” concluded Breuer, who admires comedians like Tig Notaro, who recently made a splash by courageously joking about her cancer diagnosis.
Whatever life throws at us, “let’s find the funny in it,” he added.
Breuer gets a kick, for example, out of the different ways his daughters handle their grandfather. The youngest at age seven still has a playful attitude and engages her grandpa in games. The older ones (ages 10 and 13) are completely disinterested.
Once kids turn 13, they develop “that teenage head that naturally tilts to one side and they know everything,” he said.
Of course, the best revenge, if you’re a standup comic, is putting your daughters’ behaviour into the act.
Breuer laughs when asked whether he ever needs to run family-based jokes past the relatives they are about. “I’ve never felt I’ve ever had to run any jokes past a panel since I began!”
The comedian started doing standup straight out of high school in New York state. He grew up influenced by Steve Martin, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and Bill Cosby — and actually got to meet Martin while a SNL cast member from 1995 to 1998.
“He’s a nice guy, but very dry and quiet,” said Breuer, who recalls his SNL days the way one might reminisce about “an old house you used to own. . . . You remember it was great sitting out on the back deck, but then there were those moments when the roof needed repairing and the basement flooded. . . .”
While he enjoyed working with the dryly witty Canadian comedian Norm Macdonald, his opinions of certain other in-your-face SNL personalities might best be gleaned by watching some of Breuer’s online videos.
But the comic, who hosts his own Sirius radio show and has written a book of memoirs, is effusive when referring to his Just For Laughs counterparts on this tour.
“I didn’t know who would be on the bill, but it turns out I’m friends with everyone, including Deb (Debra DiGiovanni), the Canadian . . . I think we’re all really going to really shine on stage. It’s going to be a great show.”
Tickets for the 7 p.m. performance by Breuer, DiGiovanni, Godfrey, The Marriage Ref’s Tom Papa, and host and Last Comic Standing winner John Heffron are $39.50 from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.