“Saturday Night Live” is an enigma. It’s the TV show every comic dreams of landing on, yet the stories of working there make it seem more cutthroat than the hardest day on Wall Street. It has served as the launching point for countless film careers and has produced more stars in the world of comedy than just about any other institution, but it also spits out stars as quick as it hires them. And regardless of the clout that comes along with being a former “SNL” cast member, for those who leave and don’t immediately end up as A-lister, staying in the limelight can prove challenging. Think about it — does anybody know what Melanie Hutsell or A. Whitney Brown are up to these days? Does anybody care?
One “SNL” alumni who has managed to use rather unorthodox ways to keep himself a household name is Jim Breuer. Since leaving the show 21 years ago, he has melded together his comedy with his love for heavy metal music, allowing it to seep into every facet of his persona. It’s become his brand — and it works. He’s used a live backing band on stage during his comedy shows, belted out vocal duets with metal heroes such as Judas Priest’s Rob Halford and AC/DC’s Brian Johnson and most recently, served as the opening act for Metallica’s 2018 tour.
This weekend he heads to the most appropriate casino in town for a comic who loves metal — Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, where he will perform a pair of shows at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 19 and 20. We caught up with him to talk about “SNL” days, snakes, the upcoming shows and of course, metal.
Atlantic City Weekly: You recently toured with Metallica. That had to be surreal for a guy who loves metal as much as you. Any great stories from the road?
Jim Breuer: I can tell you this, it was the greatest gig I have ever had in my life. On so many levels. If I could do it forever, I would. It was more than just doing the shows, It was like I found my own family. At home when I am alone, I’m REALLY into Metallica. There are a lot of their songs that I have used to heal myself throughout various points in my life and I always thought ‘eh — maybe I’m a little weird for doing that.’ But then I met fans that have gone to every single show and it’s like we are part of this big family. So connecting with the fans on a deeper level than just enjoying the music became a big part of the experience. It wasn’t so much that it was wild, it was just really satisfying in that it was like a traveling family/city that we became. We would go into a city and there would be 110 of us in a hotel. And the fans … interviewing them and hearing their stories … all I could think was, wow —these people are just like me.’ And of course there was the fun of finding the comedy in it all. I could do an entire one-hour special just on touring with Metallica.
ACW: Heavy metal is obviously an important part of your life, but you have somehow managed to make it an important aspect of your comedy career as well.
JB: Yeah and I have done that from the beginning. And I can honestly say I don’t know anyone else who did it. Some guys added it into what they do much later, but I started talking about heavy metal in my act all the way back in ’89, ’90 and ’91.
ACW: Speaking of the past, “SNL” gets a lot of press for being a really intense environment. How was your experience there?
JB: It was intense (laughs). It was a 24-hour boxing match. The only thing that kept me sane was that I had a balance. I always kept morality and family at the forefront of my life. I try to do that to this day. The hardest thing for me was fighting vanity. Vanity and ego are things that I chased in the beginning… everybody does. It’s like, “I gotta get the biggest house” or “I gotta buy the fanciest car”. MTV really shoved that concept down the mouth of our culture and it’s an ugly part of life. But the way I grew up helped tremendously to keep me grounded. My father could take the biggest thing and break it down like it was nothing. And that is where I find a lot of my humor. I introduced my dad to Lorne Michaels after my first show and my father said to him “Uh why wasn’t Jimmy on the show tonight? The show sucked.” I just looked at him like — Oh. My. God. But that’s the way he was.
ACW: Who was the funniest “SNL” cast member offstage?
JB: Hands down the funniest raw human being that I have ever met in my lifetime is Tracy Morgan. Never have I met anyone who was that naturally witty, smart, deep and hilarious on every single level. I would put Will Ferrell next, but in a whole different manner. He would stay in character for two weeks straight and you would finally just have to accept it. It was the craziest thing in the world.
ACW: You are doing a pair of shows at Hard Rock — will you be changing up the sets at all?
JB: Absolutely. I’ve built up three or four hours of material over the last few years, which allows me to keep changing up sets. I’ve got something really cool planned for Hard Rock that I haven’t done at the other shows. It’s going to be very theatrical. I’m really excited.
Tri-State Basset Hound Olympics in Ocean City
Tri-State Basset Hound Rescue hosted their annual Basset Hound Olympics on Friday, April 12, in Ocean City. A barrage of short-legged, long-eared, droop-faced hounds all competed in the games which included sprints, hurdles, high jumps and an obstacle course. The games serves as a warm up event for the Doo Dah parade which takes place Saturday and will feature over 500 hounds waddling their way down the streets of Ocean City.