Bill Burr Show Review

Credit: Courtesy of Pam Loshak Credit: Courtesy of Pam Loshak

Bill Burr has a personality that perfectly complements the brand he’s built himself — confident, informal, and always angry. Hailing from the outskirts of Boston — which explains his lovely accent — he’s had one of the most successful careers of any stand up comic around: five Netflix specials (and counting!) and a successful animated show called F is for family, co-created by him and Michael Price, who won an Emmy Award for his writing on The Simpsons. Fans of Breaking Bad will also recognize him as Patrick Kuby, one of Saul Goodman’s hired hands. He also runs a podcast called Bill Burr's Monday Morning Podcast, which consists of him ranting about every topic you can think of, from going to the dentist to nuclear proliferation. In short, he’s everywhere, and if you like comedy that seeks to offend, Bill Burr is your man.

The Tartan recently got the chance to talk to him about his show at the Benedum Center on Friday night, and I am happy to say that he sounds and behaves exactly like he does on screen. He has no qualms about going political, talking about race, or even talking about sexism and double standards. He makes himself laugh with his jokes, and his laugh is so infectious you can’t help but laugh along with him at some of the seemingly most inappropriate jokes you will ever hear. Bouncing from story to story, he goes off on tangents that seem to never end, but yet he ties them back together somehow at the end. One of his rants starts at how African-Americans dominate basketball in the United States, and he ties it back to Hitler wanting to create a superior race, saying “I think we already did! Send a select group of people every day for a couple hundred years, and it’s paying dividends!” He just mixed race, Hitler, and slavery into one sentence, something I didn’t think was possible. However, if you are easily offended, you might want to think twice about watching him perform. His favorite pastime is offending people who are easy targets.

One of the big changes in his material is about family — he spent most of his career talking about being single or having a girlfriend, but he now has a one-year old daughter, which has led to some fascinating changes. Watching his older material and comparing it with the newer stuff, you can see how he’s grown into his role as a dad. He talks about the story of how his daughter was born, and how his love took the form of anger towards anyone he suspected would harm her. His material has gotten softer in the way he looks at relationships and family, while retaining the edge with which he cuts through every trending topic you can think of. Burr walks the very fine line between good taste and insensitivity, and does so with aplomb. He talks about the "rules" that define masculinity, and why guys are going to die early because “It’s from five decades of suppressing an urge to hug a puppy, admitting a baby’s cute, saying you want a cookie.” Moments of vulnerability are quickly followed by self-depreciating taunts, which allow him to get away with exploring thoughts best left unsaid in polite company.

Burr has an unmistakable sense of charm, swaggering across the stage with a puffed up chest, going on an angry rant about overpopulation. He walks over to the mic stand, leans on it, and lowers his voice, and suddenly goes off talking about how hitting women should be acceptable. He embodies the persona of a middle-aged confused white guy in these modern times, with everyone so sensitive that he can’t speak his mind. A short fuse means that he gets to talk about and analyze the smallest details in daily life we all experience and hate — like people who take off their socks and shoes on commercial planes. Now I’m sure that annoys all of us, but he takes it to another level by playing the hothead who wants to kill everyone on cruise ships. You read that right. One of his favorite solutions to overpopulation is sinking all the cruise ships, because those are the people you want to lose anyway. Making you laugh at such jokes is his specialty, and the skill lies in his nonchalant, indifferent delivery.

I think Burr is someone the world sorely needs right now — someone who makes light of the dark parts of the human existence. His style of "uniformed logic" forces you to think about some of the most fundamental facets of society that we take for granted, and whether we all just need to take a step back, take it easy, and get less offended at all the little things we experience in life.