This week, Ira Sternberg spoke with comedian Jim Breuer and singer Barbara Cook.
With more than 20 years of stand-up comedy experience, Jim Breuer, who will be performing at the South Point Hotel and Casino March 13-14, remains one of today’s top entertainers. Named one of Comedy Central’s “100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time,” Breuer is one of the most recognizable comedians in the business.
Even as a young student at Valley Stream Central High School in Long Island, NY, Breuer knew he wanted to be a stand-up comedian. After spending several years working comedy clubs across the country, he settled in as a regular on the New York comedy club circuit. After being in New York for only seven months, Breuer landed a gig on the nationally syndicated show, “Uptown Comedy Club,” where he spent two seasons. Later he appeared on ABC’s “Home Improvement” starring funny man Tim Allen, before making his big break which came in 1995 when he joined the cast of NBC’s legendary “Saturday Night Live.” During his four years on SNL, Breuer quickly became popular for his original character “Goat Boy” and his dead-on impressions of actor Joe Pesci.
Following his success on SNL, Breuer starred alongside Dave Chappelle in the cult favorite film “Half Baked.” He has since appeared in the popular films “Zookeeper,” “Dick,” “Titan A.E.” and “Beer League.” On the small screen, Breuer hosted MTV’s popular “Beach House” and VH1’s “Web Junk 20.” His other television appearances include “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” and “The Marriage Ref.” Breuer is also a frequent guest on the Howard Stern Show.
In 2008, Breuer set out for his “Breuniversity Tour” with his 85-year-old father and a film crew. The footage that was captured blended together to create “The Jim Breuer Road Journals,” which showcased what life is like on the road with a comedian and his father. Videos from that tour also sparked the making of his documentary “More Than Me,” which was shown at the 2009 Montreal Film Festival. In July of 2009, Breuer’s one-hour Comedy Central special “Let’s Clear the Air” premiered with topics that included what “success” really is, his SNL days and life with his elderly parents, his wife and his three daughters.
In 2011, Breuer embarked on a national tour with three of the country’s top comedians, Dave Attell, Bill Burr, and Jim Norton, for “The Anti-Social Network” tour. That same year, Breuer’s acclaimed autobiography, “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),” was released on paperback. In the memoir, Breuer sheds light on his early struggles, his rise to fame and the many lessons he’s learned along in an extremely funny, yet personal and touching way that fans have never seen before. Up next, Breuer will be working on his new highly anticipated one hour comedy special, an addition to a heavy metal comedy album.
Barbara Cook, who will be performing in Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center, March 13-15, has audiences around the world for more than 50 years. Considered “Broadway’s favorite ingenue” during the heyday of the Broadway musical, Miss Cook then launched a second career as a concert and recording artist soaring from one professional peak to another.
Whether on the stages of major international venues throughout the world or in the intimate setting of New York’s Café Carlyle or Feinstein’s at the Regency, Cook’s popularity continues to thrive – as evidenced by a succession of seven triumphant returns to Carnegie Hall (the most recent being her celebratory 85th Birthday concert) where she made a legendary solo concert debut in 1975 , and an ever-growing mantle of honors including the Tony, Grammy, Drama Desk and New York Drama Critics Circle Awards, her citation as a Living New York Landmark and her induction into the Theatre Hall of Fame.
The recipient of a 2011 Kennedy Center Honors, in 2010 Miss Cook returned to the Broadway stage after a 23-year absence, and was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance, in the musical Sondheim on Sondheim, directed by James Lapine, for the Roundabout Theater Company.
In 1974, Cook began a creative partnership with musical arranger, accompanist, composer, dance arranger and conductor Wally Harper, a shining model of artistic collaboration and enduring friendship, which lasted for nearly thirty-one years until his death in 2004. Numerous recordings mark the journey of this unique partnership, beginning with Barbara Cook at Carnegie Hall, a live recording of their legendary 1975 Carnegie Hall debut, now freshly re-released by Sony Records. A subsequent engagement at Carnegie Hall in September 1980 was captured on It’s Better With a Band, produced and arranged by Mr. Harper. Ms. Cook and Mr. Harper traveled the world together and performed a number of times at the White House – for Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton.
In September 1985 Cook appeared with the New York Philharmonic as Sally in the renowned concert version of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies. She also recorded Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel and The Disney Album for the MCA record label. Nominated in 1986 for an Olivier Award for her one-woman show at London’s Albery Theatre, Ms. Cook received the Drama Desk Award in 1987 for her Broadway show A Concert for the Theatre. In October 1991 Cook’s appearance as a featured artist at the Carnegie Hall Gala Music and Remembrance: A Celebration of Great Musical Partnerships underscored her commitment to two important causes: the advancement of the performing arts and support of AIDS research. Miss Cook was one of the only American performers chosen to perform at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Arts Festival in the fabled Sydney Opera House. Musical America selected her as their 2007 Vocalist of the Year, the first pop singer to be so honored by this classical performing arts organization.