Jim Breuer's road to comedy began on Jefferson Avenue in Valley Stream. As a young man growing up on Long Island, he was blessed with the ability to contort his body, voice and face for multiple impressions and gags that would crack up his grammar school buddies.
In his 20s, NBC saw he had potential and put him in the 1995 cast of "Saturday Night Live," where he remained for three seasons spawning the legendary character Goat Boy and his dead-on impression of Joe Pesci. On-screen, stoners worldwide hailed Breuer for his role in the 1998 cult film "Half Baked."
All along he continued to craft his stand-up career, which has grown from being a quirky goofball to mastering the art of comedic storytelling in a Cosby-sque fashion.
Breuer, 45, spoke to Newsday from his New Jersey home before Monday's gig at the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor. He also will come to the NYCB Theatre at Westbury Nov. 30 for his traditional post-Thanksgiving show.
How much of your humor came from growing up on Long Island?
I'd say pretty much most of it. It's my views on life, which are based on where I grew up in Valley Stream. I'm developing an animated show called "The Jefferson Avenue Kids," which is all about the group of kids I grew up with. I'm deeply passionate about getting that out there.
How early on did you realize you were entertaining?
It all started in grammar school in Valley Stream. By sixth grade, I really zoned in on it. I wrote my first comedy sketch for a talent show while everyone else was lip-synching to KISS tunes.
When did you venture into stand-up?
I was 17 at February's rock club in Elmont in early 1985. My friends were playing in bands there. They said, "Why don't you go up and do some stand-up?" After I graduated, I started doing open-mic nights at Governor's in Levittown.
How did you find your way to "Saturday Night Live"?
After being a road comedian, I started to pursue TV. NBC saw me at a club and was trying to develop me. They asked me to go audition, and I didn't want to. They wanted to help cast the show and I was caught in a power play between Lorne Michaels and NBC. I didn't grow up watching the show and had no desire to be on it. But once I got there, I would have stayed forever.
When you created Goat Boy, did you ever think it would catch on?
No, because all I wanted to do was a character that was far out in leftfield -- a guy with Tourette's who sounds like a goat. It crushed. I've never seen Lorne Michaels laugh so hard. It is one of the greatest feelings in the world.
You are known for doing a dead-on impression of Joe Pesci. Does he like it?
Initially, he didn't like it. When he came to the show, he had me shaking in my boots backstage. I was convinced the conversation was going to end with him telling me that I owed him 5 percent of my income for the rest of my life. But it turned out OK.
You have three girls. Do you see the crazy-humor gene in any of them?
They all have it, but the middle one, Kelsey, who's 10, is my identical twin. She is an observant mimic who can read a room and dissect people. It's scary, funny and mind-blowing all at the same time. She's this century's Lucille Ball.
Was switching over to clean material a big career decision for you?
It was scary. I was afraid to lose that juvenile audience, but I'm just not that guy. Bill Cosby told me to read a chapter in his book "Cosbyology"] called "The Day I Quit Show Business." It was about how he decided to build his own crowd and stay true to it. It really sunk in to me.
You are a long-suffering Mets fan. What are your suggestions for the team?
They haven't had a firecracker in there in a while. The last one was Paul Lo Duca. They need a guy that's full of passion, wears his emotions on his sleeve and who is a great ballplayer. Who is that guy? I don't know. But they need someone who is going to hit that ball in the upper deck, then turn to the dugout and say, "Are we doing this or what?"