The Breuer of laughs

23 April 2012 | 4:58 pm | Baz McAlister

American comedian Jim Breuer embarks on maiden tour of Australia

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This Comedy Festival season marks Jim Breuer's first trip Down Under, but the Saturday Night Live alumnus and co-star of the movie Half Baked (with Dave Chappelle) isn't worried about what to expect from Melburnian audiences. His material is universal.

“I talk a lot about kids, family stuff,” says Breuer, who now lives in New Jersey. “I have elderly parents who live with me now – my dad's 90 and my mum's 85. I have three daughters; I've been married for 18 years. I can pretty much relate to any human out there. I don't do Top 40, pop-culture, or politics. I'm your neighbour who you end up hanging out with in the garage for four hours. Oh, also, I'm a metalhead.”

Breuer certainly is. He's one of the few comedians who gets asked to come and play metal festivals. Later this year he's doing comedy among the metal bands at the colossal Wacken Open Air in Germany, and touring Europe on the Sonisphere bill. 

“When I go to these festivals, there's 5,000 people in the tent, maybe the guy before me gets booed off the stage, and I'm thinking 'They're gonna hate me – as soon as 'some American' is announced, I'm doomed'. But I can pretty much imitate any metal guy ever, and I never had the chance to play this game anywhere else. So I went out there and did [impressions of] Lars Ulrich, James Hetfield, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio – and you would have thought I started a revelation in comedy. Rock, metal, and comedy seem to go hand-in-hand.”

Breuer's lifelong love affair with metal began when he was a teen in the early '80s, listening to Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne in his basement.

“My friend up the street said, 'Listen, listen, put this on, it's going to take you to a new world',” Breuer says.

The friend put on Metallica's For Whom The Bell Tolls.

“With headphones on, in my basement, something just clicked in me. It was a sound I'd never heard before. Then to see Metallica live, I felt like I witnessed one of the first revolutions in music.”

Now, comedy has brought Breuer close to his heroes. He's become friends with Metallica, interviewed them many times, hosted TV shows about them on VH1, and now performs at their festival.

“I seem to appeal to people like metalheads and blue-collar workers,” he says. “My entire family is blue-collar; cops and garbage men and nurses. We're all storytellers, and we're all hilarious; I'm the only one who figured out you get paid to do it.”