For Jim Breuer, performing in Sarasota, and especially at McCurdy's Comedy Theatre, feels a little like coming home.
Back in the late '80s, Breuer was living with his parents in Palm Harbor, in Pinellas County. He cut his stand-up comedy teeth at McCurdy's and other area comedy clubs.
"Back in '85-'86, I started doing stand-up," he said. "Me, Darrell Hammond, some other people. We'd play at Ron Bennington's room in Clearwater, and once in a while I'd make it down to McCurdy's."
Les McCurdy remembers that era well.
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"He was just a young comic, trying to get as much stage time as he could," McCurdy said. "He'd come to our open mic nights."
Breuer has gone on to comedy stardom thanks in large part to his three-year stint on "Saturday Night Live." But he still comes back to McCurdy's whenever he can.
"I play there almost every year," he said in a phone interview from his New Jersey home. "I love going down there. I love Les and I love playing Les' room."
Breuer's next McCurdy's appearance is coming up this weekend. He'll be there for four shows Friday and Saturday.
He allowed that the track record of "SNL" alums who go into stand-up isn't a great one. But that, he said, is because most of them are sketch comedy actors, not stand-up comics.
"It's a big adjustment," he said. "I've seen them, and there's no reason to name names, but it's a big adjustment and some of them can't make it. But I was always a stand-up comic. Stand-up got me everything. I did sketch comedy, I did movies, but I always went back to the stand-up world."
McCurdy said he's watched over the years as Breuer has consistently worked to become a better comic. Now, McCurdy said, Breuer's one's of the best comedians out there.
"He continually reinvents himself," McCurdy said, "He's always working on his act. I personally think he is one of the top 10 people touring today, and that's being conservative."
As Breuer has gotten older, his subject matter has changed. He talks a lot about family and other issues that affect middle-aged people and he doesn't use a lot of profanity or off-color material. But he still has an edge. He describes his style as "Bill Cosby in a Metallica T-shirt."
"He's a great impressionist, which a lot of people don't realize," McCurdy said. "He's a great physical comedian and a great writer. I tell people he's one of the funniest people they'll ever see on our stage."
Details: Sept. 19-20, McCurdy's Comedy Theatre, 1923 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota. Show times: 7 and 9:30 p.m. Tickets: $35, Information: 941-925-3869, mccurdyscomedy.com.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.