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Ten years after hitting the big time on "Saturday Night Live" with impressions of Joe Pesci and characters like Goat Boy, Jim Breuer arrives this weekend for his first-ever Hawaii performance. And it's all because Paula Poundstone beat him to it.
"That last time, I was so jealous," he continued. "I was like, 'Man, why can't I play here?' I just never even thought of it."
SPEAKING FROM his car in New Jersey, Breuer sounds content with both his personal life and professional career.
Following a seven-month stint on New York City's comedy club circuit, he was hired in 1993 as a cast member on the syndicated "Uptown Comedy Club." He spent two seasons on the show, working with comedienne Debra Wilson before she left to become an orginal cast member on "MADtv," and with Tracy Morgan before the two were reunited on "Saturday Night Live" in 1996.
"I remember growing up and I'd say, 'I made it when I'm hanging out with Metallica, the New York Mets and I work with DeNiro and Jack Nicholson,' and it all happened on 'Saturday Night Live' within like a year and a half," Breuer said. "But they don't teach you what happens when you are (successful), and what to look out for and how to take care of yourself."
Although he was around the fast-paced party lifestyle that had claimed the lives of other cast members before him, Breuer didn't allow himself to fall into the same traps. Instead, he saved his money and concentrated on his recent (at the time) marriage to wife Dee.
"All it took was one of those guys to see the other side," he said. "And then you learn. It's really bizarre, and I saw how it happened -- you'd be surprised how many people bow to that pressure."
WHILE IT was the stint on "Saturday Night Live" that legitimized Breuer's comedy career, his role as Brian the stoner in "Half-Baked" cemented his fame among a generation of college kids.
The movie is a staple of dorm-room DVD collections around the country, and also served as a career springboard for comic Dave Chappelle. Breuer capitalized on his success with a Comedy Central special in 2002, and spent a few years starring in the "Heavy Metal Comedy Tour" with his house band, The Breu Crue.
Now 38 and the father of three young daughters, Breuer shudders at the thought of giving himself up to Hollywood, preferring to live with his family in a wooded New Jersey suburb.
"I can't stand L.A.," he admits. "And I don't really chase money. It's nice not to have that driving your life anymore."
Instead, he tries to be as involved a father as he can. Neighbors often stare as Breuer plays with his daughters outside their home.
"The neighbors think I'm crazy, but I had to teach them," he said. "These kids nowdays, they don't know how to play. They just know how to stare at a computer, stare at a TV."
He's also discovered theater of the mind, hosting a top-rated satellite radio show called "Jim Breuer: Unleashed." Breuer is joined by a cast of characters he's known since high school, and has loved every minute of the experience since starting in November of last year.
"We talk about everyday life -- no politics, no news," he said. "I call it the 'Art of Hang.' It's like paid therapy, really. And because it's satellite, we get ... brutally honest.
"I really, really like this. It's the best job I've ever had. But we always say we're No. 1 until January. That's when (Howard) Stern starts."
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