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Jim Breuer's Let's Clear the Air tonight on Comedy Central

by Nick Zaino, posted Jul 25th 2009 1:02PM
Jim BreuerJim Breuer has a fight ahead of him. The title of his latest special, Let's Clear the Air (Comedy Central, tonight, 11PM), is a nod to his current place in the public's perception as the stoner from Half Baked. You can throw in a bit of Goat Boy from SNL, and you have the cage Breuer has built for himself, the one he's trying to break out of to change his image.

Breuer would like to be known more as a family comic now, and Let's Clear the Air is his first attempt at that.

I spoke with Breuer by e-mail late last year when he was touring with this material, and he was proud of the approach: "No swear words or dark subject matter," he wrote in November. He called it "powerhouse family material," and wanted people to walk away as if they'd just seen an edgy comedy show. Watching the full version of Clear the Air on DVD (there are roughly 25 minutes on the DVD, out Tuesday, that aren't on the Comedy Central broadcast version), he largely succeeds.

He addresses it right up front in a montage trying to get his parents, wife, and kids ready for the special taping, saying that, yes, he's the stoner guy, he's Goat Boy, but he's also a son, a husband, and a father. It's just god's little joke that Breuer looks stoned all the time. And now, as he mentions, the curse of his children.

If you're familiar with Breuer's stand-up, you'll know this special isn't a huge departure for him. He's always told personal stories, he's always been goofy. Always had a knack for off the wall sound effects and erratic physical comedy. And all of that is here in the special. It's just that the focus has changed a bit.

There are a few behind-the-scenes stories about Half Baked and SNL (with a particularly funny take on Norm McDonald). Breuer claims he was stoned exactly once on the set of Half Baked, when he wasn't supposed to be on camera and got pulled on set for emergency filming. But the centerpiece of his SNL stories is a piece about Breuer's dad meeting Sylvester Stallone and suggesting the Elks Club as a place to have a cheap, good night out (as opposed to Stallone's overpriced Planet Hollywood).

There are some familiar themes - yes, your whole life changes when you have kids. But in the context of Breuer's life, for whom success started with being able to wear leather pants, it seems fresh. He comes off like a gonzo Bill Cosby, getting swarmed by his three girls on an hour and a half's sleep and trying to obey his wife's wishes not to let them drink before bed. And even worse, having to deal with kid's music as a metal fan.

I don't know if this special will change anyone's perception of Jim Breuer, and he's not trying to destroy that image, just trying to move on a bit. But the material is funny (hard not to join in with Breuer's skittering laughter), and it sounds completely natural. To me, it sounds like he's accomplished what he set out to do.

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Nathan C

You might wanna see Jim Breuer: Hardcore

That may change your perception.

August 18 2009 at 1:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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