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Monday, September 24, 2012

Jim Breuer at the Byham Theater

Posted By on Mon, Sep 24, 2012 at 10:22 AM

What happens to stoner comedians when they grow up? If, like Jim Breuer, they’ve successfully riffed off a permanently baked facial expression long enough to title their own autobiography I’m Not High, then it’s their children inheriting the same expression that becomes the joke. Stoner comedy begets more stoner comedy.
Slight material perhaps, but it’s testament to Breuer’s skill as a comedian that he can extract whole skits from the smallest observation. The 45-year-old comic — who performed here Saturday — has cleaned up his wacky style made famous by SNL and cult stoner film Half Baked. His hour of quick-fire standup is billed “family-friendly” since Breuer had his own, and he rarely strays from this topic.
Just as children's television contains far more violence than adult’s, Breuer’s routine is rife with slapstick. The maniacal mimic gives his microphone a Tom and Jerry-style beating, knocks over props, and ferociously roars to animate his wife’s disciplining technique.
He’s so energetic an impersonator it’s easy to lose sight of the drab premises to his gags; small children are tedious, parents don’t go out much, and taking kids to restaurants is hard.
Breuer’s new dependents themselves salvage many a staid joke. A skit about pretending to be Canadian in Europe — a ploy Eddie Izzard suggested in 1998 — is revived by his daughters’ amusing misreading of a German sign. And the pithy punchline to an anecdote involving a queasy number of retching sound effects is provided by Breuer’s elderly father.
But Breuer’s myopic concerns are thrown further out of proportion when he starts reminiscing about his prankster past. An incredulous account of the reaction to a mock bomb threat he made to Sears while impersonating Muammar Gaddafi doesn’t quite ring true post-9/11. And his modest surprise at how far through society his SNL “Goat Boy” skit has spread is a little naive in the digital age.
Moreover, Breuer’s devoting the best part of an hour to the difficulties of children becomes exhausting. The evening’s host, Pittsburgh-basedl Bill Crawford, gives a much conciser quip about parenthood that’s apt introduction to Breuer’s routine: “It’s not going to be good all the time. It’s not going to be bad all the time. It’s just going to be all the time.”
Though Breuer briefly blames his own appearance on parenthood’s stresses, he could have elaborated; he’s not high, he’s just a parent, and it’s bred the same skewing of perspective.

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