If you're going to do a spot-on impression of the inimitable Joe Pesci, first make sure you're not going to cross paths with the Academy Award winner anytime in the near future.
It's a lesson SNL alum and comedic bastion Jim Breuer learned too late. He perfected his impression on late-night national television, but it left Pesci irked.
"He tried to shake me down, he was weird at first," Breuer said of their serendipitous run-in. "99 percent of the time, a celebrity is very flattered [by impressions]."
Breuer will be making his way to West Nyack on Jan. 20, 21 and 22 to kick off the opening of the Levity Comedy Club, a new venue in the Palisades Center mall. Breuer, who lives in nearby Long Island, has been to the Nyacks before to perform stand-up.
"Rockland is my backyard," he said.
Residents will have a chance to see Breuer perform all-new material he's sampling for an upcoming Comedy Central one-hour special.
"Comedians work differently than musicians," Breuer noted, touching on the comedic process. "Musicians put their CD out, then tour—comedians do the opposite."
And touring is Breuer's cup-of-tea—after leaving SNL in 1998, his fate was in his own hands. He's since penned a book, tapped a handful of high-rated specials, helmed radio shows and podcasts, and more.
Still, Breuer notes the leap from SNL funny-man—where his antics as goat-boy and deft imitations of DiNiro and Pesci earned him major attention—to independent comic was trying.
"There was a stage where I was trying to live up to [my] SNL guy," he recalled.
The same problem surfaced after Half Baked, a stoner comedy Breuer starred in with pal and fellow comedian Dave Chappelle. Breuer—who, quick Internet reconnaissance reveals, is a staunch family man—was pigeonholed as a sluggish, marijuana-indulging loafer.
"It wasn’t irritating… I thought it was fascinating, but I knew I had to do something about it," Breuer said of transforming his image. "I had to start to open up the other side more."
Enter his book, I'm Not High (But I've Got a Lot of Crazy Stories about Life as a Goat Boy, a Dad, and a Spiritual Warrior), and a documentary titled More Than Me, which explores Breuer balancing being both a comedian and caretaker for his ailing father. (Watch a preview here.)
Breuer says he's confident Rocklanders will enjoy his antics—"I destroy on stage," he noted.
As for resurrecting old material—like goat-boy, the half-man, half-goat character that helped him become a household name in the 90s—there's usually a twist.
"I give it to people, but I don’t act out the whole character—I'll explain how I came up with it," Breuer said, noting that duplicating sketches from 25 years ago can become old-hat.
"It's more of a story based around the character," he added. "I always make it entertaining for me. If it's not for me, you're not going to be entertained."
Breuer will perform at the Levity Live Comedy Club—a new, 380-seat theater and restaurant in the Palisades Center—from Jan. 20 to Jan. 22.
4210 Palisades Center Dr. West Nyack; (845) 353-5400
Tickets are $22 and $25
- Fri, Jan. 20..........8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
- Sat, Jan. 21.........7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
- Sun, Jan. 22........7:30 p.m.