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Jim Breuer in Melbourne

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

Jim Breuer is one of those Saturday Night Live alumni who didn’t go on to become massively famous. But he does say that people still come up to him and impersonate his Goat Boy character, 14 years after his three-year stint ended.

On his first visit to Australia – for two shows only – he attributes the breaks he got to his appearance, confessing: ‘I look wasted all the time’. However his stand-up relies on the audible element much more than the visual.

For Breuer is, in effect, a sound effects comic. It’s dressed up in a series of first-hand anecdotes, but they are only excuses for him to holler and howl into the mic. The poor device gets quite the battering in this hour, especially as he repeatedly thwacks it hard against himself to represent all manner of scenes.

Impersonating Dave Chappelle? Bang the mic. Recreating being trampled in a heavy metal moshpit Bang the mic, Seeing off his teenage daughter’s would-be suitor? Bang the mic. His wife nudging him… you get the idea.

Breuer talks at some length about being a metalhead, and like his favoured genre, this is a performance of loud noise more than subtle airs. This is stand-up as if written with the Caps Lock on. In his impersonations, his angry wife even has the same deep growl as the lead singer of Slayer.

For the most part, this is a cacophonous din, with the indisputably powerful performance propping up some lacklustre material on such ideas as being too old for gigs, pretending to be Canadian as Americans are hated so much abroad, and imaging the sort of nostalgic music his generation will listen to in their dotage compared to today’s pensioners.

The lack of substance didn’t concern this busy theatre crowd – including more than a couple of die-hard fans getting visibly excited to be in his presence – so he got the job done, even if a lot of the content was pedestrian.

Maybe like Breuer and his music, I’m getting too old for this shtick, and prefer something less intense. For when he tells more distinctive, personal stories, without the crutch of volume, they are much more rewarding – and he still gets to show off his verbal dexterity.

He has a sterling calling-card routine about his elderly father’s ailing body, while some of the less generic material about his three daughters is far more engaging than the explosion of sound that hallmarks so much of this hour.

Review date: 23 Apr 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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