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'Saturday Night Live' alum Jim Breuer recalls Valley Stream upbringing
Jim Breuer, 45, is a stand-up comedian, actor and radio host who grew up in Valley Stream. He’s known for his time as a cast member on “Saturday Night Live” and for his role in the 1998 cult “stoner” flick “Half Baked.” He currently lives in Chester, N.J., with his wife of 20 years, Dee, and his three daughters: Gabrielle, 13, Kelsey, 10, and Dorianne, 7.
Tell me what it was like growing up in Valley Stream.
I grew up Valley Stream until my parents moved to Florida when I was 20. I graduated from Valley Stream Central High School in 1985. It was the best childhood anyone could ever ask for. You’ll find 10 to 15 people packed at someone’s house for parties. It was a very tight community. I actually still want my kids to eventually grow up there. It was the era everyone knew each other. As a kid, we were outdoors as much as possible. Still to this day, I keep in touch with everyone who grew on that street, on Jefferson Avenue. I’m actually in the middle of writing a book about growing up on that street. It was a phenomenal time and when I look back on my life it’s one of the most cherished parts of my life. Every year, we would look forward to riding our bikes at the Village Green. I remember playing Little League at Firemen’s Field and watching fireworks there each year. We also used to hangout at Green Acres Mall all the time. We’d go to the movies at the multiplex. We loved going to the best pizza place, Ancona Pizzeria.
Tell me how you got your start in stand-up comedy.
A year after my family moved to Florida, I moved back to Jefferson Avenue and lived with a friend and then I started my career in standup comedy. I lived on Long Island, but I’d go to the city every night. I also performed my first gig at a rock club called February's in Elmont. My high school friends played in a band and they asked me to introduce them and tell jokes and stories. I did stand-up comedy at Valley Stream Central and Governor’s in Levittown in 1985.
Has it changed much from when you lived here?
The last time I visited Valley Stream was in June. Oh yeah, it’s changed a lot. When I drive around there I don’t see people out. The kids aren’t out on the street anymore like they used to be. The culture has changed a lot and different people have moved to the area.
For those of us who have not read your first book, “I’m Not High,” what does it reveal about you?
It reveals a lot about growing up on Long Island and my childhood experiences. It’s about the real Jim Breuer and where I got my start. My father James, 89, worked for the village as a sanitation worker in Valley Stream for 30 years. The book states how I hold family more valuable than anything in the world. No matter how many times I was tempted with fame and vanity I always go back to Valley Stream, which was always about community and family.
Do any of your comedic skits come out of living in Valley Stream?
My older stuff goes back to living in Valley Stream. On the DVD “Hardcore,” half the material was about me growing up in Valley Stream. There’s a piece I talk about my dog Duffy and the bully of the neighborhood.
What do you think is most attractive about Valley Stream?
I don’t know much about it now, but I know about it then. Like I said, if there was a map, or a way to write a book for a modern-day outline of the way good living was and the way it’s supposed to be, then take a look at Valley Stream. It’s the greatest place in the world to grow up.