Goat Boy, from Half Baked

Whether you watched Jim Breuer from your couch on SNL with The Joe Pesci Show or Goat Boy; or as the loveable stoner he was seemingly born to play in the movie Half Baked, chances are that you have at least one Jim Breuer impression in your repertoire. As Breuer comes to Tattered Cover to promote his new book, I’m Not High, 303 Magazine’s Ben Simkins talked with him about the changing face of his comedy and the future of stoners’ favorite non-stoner.

Ben Simkins: I wanted to start with your new 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. Can you elaborate on why you chose this very specific title?

Jim Breuer: Well, we kept going back and forth, back and forth to try and please anyone that would have no clue who I am, and people who know exactly who I am. So, people who know exactly who I am are instantly going to laugh at the “I’m not high”. Every time they’ve seen me, you know, I came out of my mother’s womb looking baked out of my mind. So, that’s something I’ve been saying since sixth grade; “Are you high?”, “No, I’m not high.”, “You look really high.”, “No, I’m not high”. When I started stand-up, I remember going on stage and before I’d even said anything people would start giggling, laughing, and I wouldn’t understand why, and they weren’t listening to anything I said for the first couple of minutes, until finally one of the other comics said, “Y’know, Breuer, they’re all laughing because they think you’re stoned. You have to go up on stage, and trust me when I say the best thing to do as a comic is to read their minds and if you just say, ‘By the way, I’m not high.’ Watch what happens. I remember that was like in 1990 and I went up and said, “By the way, I’m not high,” the place just rip-roared and cracked up, and till this day that is always my opening line.

Simkins: And the other parts?

Breuer: The other parts, you know, I’m a dad. There’s this whole other side of me that you don’t get to see which is my dad and being a father, a real homegrown kid that never left his street, and got deep roots with his family, and just having a faith in life, and just the spiritual world to guide me through this madness we call life.
Simkins: One of the things you just mentioned is being a dad. You obviously tour a lot for your career, what spurred you to take your whole family with you on the road and is it different touring with them?
Breuer: I wanted to tour with them, because the worst thing for me – the worst poison is touring while my kids are home. It’s the worst thing in the world because kids don’t care who you are, they don’t care if you’re a rock star, they don’t care how much money you make. They don’t care. My kids talk to me every day, “Where are you dad?” “Oh, you know, selling a book.” “Why can’t you sell them from here?” They don’t get it; all they get is that you’re not home. When I took them on the road we had so much fun as a family. They finally thought, “Oh, alright, Daddy goes on a stage. We get it now. And people come up to him and ask him for autographs, oh okay. I don’t understand why, but at least I get to see what he does.” I remember just being excited to see my dad on a garbage truck, you know. “Yeah! Dad’s on a garbage truck.” You just know what your dad’s doing. Being with them was the best thing ever.
Simkins: How have the influences for your comedy, changed as your career has progressed and matured?
Breuer: My style hasn’t changed. I still have that sort of blue-collar, animated, storytelling style. It’s just that the material has changed. When I was young I talked about being young and running around and partying. When I was married I talked about being married and being frustrated and how we fight. And now that I have kids and elderly parents, I talk about while you guys enjoy life I’m scrubbing my dad’s rear end after he just crapped himself for an hour. And, I wish they’d taught me that in school not Ponce De León.
Simkins: So, do you think that your audience has matured with you and that they’re going along this journey at the same time, or have you picked up new audiences?
Breuer: A lot of all of it. I’ve picked up a whole new audience, and I’m starting to see that at book signings. I’ve been very taken back the last two days because I’m getting a lot of multi-generations. I had a lot of kids there, like 10 years old – 12 years old, teenagers. Then there was a majority that was young twenties, and then a lot of people my age with kids; and then older. So, I think my core fans grew up with me; all the Half Baked and SNL crowd. We grew up, had kids. We’ve all got elderly parents. And now there’s this whole new crowd that’s starting to come and the older crowd are so of like when you’re into oldies music and you’re like “You’ve got to listen to this band.” “Oh Dad.” And then “oh, Dad’s music’s cool.” So, it’s broadening as I get older.
Simkins: That shows the longevity of your career where you can see that you’re getting new fans, but the old ones are still with you.
Breuer: It’s important to keep the young ones coming.
Simkins: Yeah, well they’re the ones with the expendable cash! So, Goat Boy’s obviously a famous character you created. How did the idea of Goat Boy come about?
Breuer: It’s very simple. This is how I pitched it. I went to the writers of Saturday Night Live. I already had The Joe Pesci Show. They said, this meeting’s for any new characters you want to develop. So I said, I want to do a guy with Tourette’s. That’s where it started. I just wanted to do a guy with Tourette’s, but instead of cursing, he bleats like a goat. So, they’re like, what do you mean? I said, well he loves to sing and he loves to go to parties, but he just has Tourette’s, so he’ll go into a bar, like, “Hey man I {bleats like a goat} me and my friends wanted to know if we could {bleats like a goat} have a couple of beers? And he loves karaoke, you know, {sings} start spreading the {bleats like a goat} news. They just stared at me like I was high. A couple of months later when I thought the issue was dead, one of the writers came up to me and they go, so, speaking of that weird Tourette’s goat thing, what if he’s part goat and he’s a science project that went wrong, and I love that he sings. What if he just sang Eighties songs and he has his own VH1 show and he hosts an Eighties show? Wouldn’t that be great? And, I swear to you, I looked at him and said, I think that’s the dumbest thing I’ve heard in my life. It’s not gonna work. You want me to be a half-goat. No man, it’s a guy with Tourette’s. He’s like, no, no, no, I’m telling you, you’re missing an opportunity. So I said, well you can write it up, but it’s not going to work. If you were to tell me, 14 years later I would be walking up the street and a car with tinted windows would roll up next to me, and I don’t know if someone’s going to shoot me. The window goes down and there’s some thug looking guy and he points at me and says, hey man {bleats like a goat}, I would have said you were crazy. Here it is now and it’s an action figure.

Listen to Jim Breuer dust off the infamous Goat Boy for 303.

Apparently, he's not high

Simkins: On more recent stuff. You have a movie coming out next year with Adam Sandler and Kevin James called The ZooKeeper? How was it partnering up with another SNL alum?
Breuer: Well, the truth of the matter is I never got to see him.
Simkins: Right, because it’s all voiceover work right?
Breuer: Right, it’s all voiceover. For the movie itself, Kevin James personally called me to ask me to be in it and I was so flattered and it all stemmed from my new direction and the family material. He literally called me and said, I loved your website and I love what you’re doing about your dad on the website. I just wanted to say I love the stuff your doing, and I have this little part in a movie and I wanted to know if you wanted to do it, and not until I’m doing it do I realize, oh my God, Sandler’s in this, and Nick Nolte and Cher and Stallone. I said, this is going to be huge and Kevin said, yeah it’s going to be huge, I didn’t want to freak you out, but thanks for doing this part. So, when you do voiceovers you don’t get to meet the guys. I’ve met Sandler, but I’m really hoping to get to hang with him at the movie premiere.
Simkins: Adam Sandler recently came out and said that he and Chris Farley were in actual fact fired from SNL. You also had some hard times while you were a cast member, as have a lot of its cast members over the years. What do you feel now when you look back on those years?
Breuer: I look on them as a great time in my life for me. It was such a pivotal time in my life and career. Would I ever want to be in that environment again? No, absolutely never, but I took a lot of the good and a lot of the bad; I never had a regret. I’d still want to be on that show if it wasn’t for one pivotal person. The only reason I really wanted to get out of there was that he made my life miserable and he wanted me off the show. Who wants to work in that environment?
Simkins: Lastly, you’re famous for being a stoner icon, yet you yourself have admitted that you don’t actually smoke pot anymore. Here in Colorado we have followed California with the legalization of medical marijuana and now we probably have more pot stores than Starbucks. Your home state of New Jersey did the same in January and just passed the strictest medical marijuana guidelines in the country. How do you feel about this trend and New Jersey’s new law?
Breuer: Well, I think it’s long overdue, I’m a little sad that I retired way too early. It’s ridiculous that it’s illegal; absolutely ridiculous. The fact that alcohol has no respect for morals or boundaries, there’s just no reason it should be illegal. It’s absolute nonsense. It’s the same as anything, you use it in moderation if you’re going to use it, and use it for the right reasons. Don’t use it to be like, whoo hoo I can smoke pot now! Do it if you do it, and now you shouldn’t feel like a criminal or hide in the dark to get it.
Simkins: It seems that if you criminalize it, if you’re doing it you’re already doing something wrong and then it’s okay to drive. Whereas if you decriminalize it you can say, if you do it, just the same as drinking: don’t smoke and drive.
Breuer: Exactly. You’re still going to use common sense. Even the people that do don’t go, “Hey I can’t wait to get high and drive”. That’s the last thing you want to do, because you can tell when they are because they’re going three miles an hour in the left lane.

Breuer’s book is available on Amazon.