Comedian Bill Burr on Looking Like Ron Howard and Being the Next Louis CK
Courtesy of Bill Burr
It takes a wise guy from Boston with a disregard for giving a crap to rant about Steve Jobs. “He told other people what to invent,” is comedian Bill Burr's joke.
For Burr, politically correct banter isn't part of his nature, and it’s what makes him one of the best comedians in the game. And it's why his weekly podcast, Bill’s Monday Morning Podcast, is going on its 8th year and over 350 episodes.
Often times referred to as a comedian’s comedian, the 45-year-old actor-comedian admits to “falling” into comedy. He also divulges to doing poorly in school, never finding a job he felt he was great at, and says he “still fails in his personal life.”
If failing means becoming a household name for a recurring role on The Chappelle Show, releasing four comedy specials, appearing in Breaking Bad and gearing up for an animated series dubbed F is for Family with Simpsons legend Michael Price (set to premiere on Netflix this year), then yes, the rest of us are in some serious trouble.
New Times: This ain’t your first rodeo in Miami or the South Beach Comedy Festival. What’s it like to be back to the Magic City?
Bill Burr: Unfortunately I’m not spending much time besides the shows, but I always have a good time down there. Beautiful people. Beautiful part of the world. What’s not to like?
What do you have planned for the show?
Hopefully to entertain people with my new hour of comedy
How do you think Miami audiences differ if at all from the rest of the country?
I’ve been doing standup for so long that once you become national your act becomes national, so you don’t really notice that big of a difference. It was more early on in my career that I would notice. Back in the day there was always a big Latino population, which I always thought was fun and when I started coming here they would be nervous at the Improv to book a white guy cause they said nobody comes out to see white guys here. It was a tough market to break into, looking like Ron Howard like I do.
Got any weird post or pre-show rituals?
Ummm no, not really.
You’ve got your new series F is for Family slated for 2015 on Netflix, and have said it’s a show you’ve always wanted to do. Why is that?
'Cause I always wanted to be able to do a TV show where I could just do whatever I want and no one was worried about advertising or complaints or anything like that. There’s no advertising on Netflix and it’s an animated show, so you know in animation you can get away with murder. It’s going to be so much fun - it already is.
And Vince Vaughn, whom you're working with on the show, called you the funniest, most original voice out there. What are your thoughts on Vince's humor?
That guy...I don’t know if there’s anybody faster as far as a how quick his comedic mind is. He’s like Eddie Murphy level. Will Ferrell and those guys are just great, but Vince is so lighting quick and he’s like that. You hang out with him and if he walks on to something and wants to rip about it I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody better.
Describe your relationship with Dave Chappelle?
[Laughs] I feel like we got a divorce or something. Well we have an estranged relationship. Just joking. My relationship with him is, and has always been, great. I love running into him, I love seeing him out on the road. He’s a road dog and I think the last time he came out to L.A., I was on the road so I didn’t get to see him. Last time I saw him he was in Seattle and he was funny as ever. My relationship is: he’s a great friend and I’m a huge fan.
You fell into being a comedian by accident. After all these years do you still feel that way?
Well yeah, how I got into it is how I got into it. I didn’t think it was possible or something I could do. Back in the day it wasn’t how it is today with the Internet and YouTube and selfies. Hollywood was a zillion miles away, so it was just a couple of people that I ran into and I really feel if I wouldn’t have run into to them I would have never done comedy.
You fourth hour-long stand up special, I’m Sorry You Feel That Way, came out in December 2014. What was that like?
It did better than all my other ones. I was very proud of the material and very happy people liked it and I’m trying to work on getting better for my next one.
How do come up with new material?
I fail in my personal life.
Enough to fill up an hour, believe me.
You wanted to be in Breaking Bad from the pilot episode and said you'd even carry a tray of crack to get on the show. Were you pleased with your character after going after it for three seasons?
Oh god yeah, absolutely! I still cant believe I got to do that. It was tremendous. That was definitely one of those things that I did not need to remind myself to take it in. I took it in the entire time I was doing it and then I would be so excited for fans of the show who knew my stand up and wondering what they were going to think of me when they saw the show. It was a lot of fun.
What were your own personal thoughts on the finale as a fan?
I loved it. There was something on the finale that I don’t know if a lot of people touched on. I kind of liked the fun sentimental way that Mr. White touched one of those giant bins he cooked the meth in in a way that he actually really enjoyed it, but also typical breaking bad you have the other side where meth, you know, destroys lives. So for him to sit there and affectionately touch it like it was a child of his that he was proud of it almost seemed like, “Yeah we had a lot of fun, didn’t we?" I honestly think Breaking Bad is one of the great dark comedies of all time.
Rolling Stone called you the next Louis CK. How do you feel and what do you think he has to say about that?
If I were him I would be insulted 'cause all I do is stand up. He puts out more specials than I do and he also writes, acts, directs, and edits one of the best shows on television, so he’s way busier than I am and producing way more comedy and content. He’s a beast, so to be compared to him is great. I would curl up in a fetal position if I was ever presented with a third of that work.
What have you yet to do or accomplish that is on the top of your bucket list?
I don’t know. I’ve kind of exceeded all expectations I ever had. All I wanted to do was be a working comedian so everything else has been gravy. I guess it would be like I’ve never been South America or Africa. I’d like to go to Galapagos Island. See a great white shark. You know, drink a beer in Belgium. Dumb things like that. I’d also like to become a father some day.
Do you think you have that father gene?
I hope I have the father gene. I like to think I do. We’ll see.
What dead comedian would you like to have conversation with?
Ah there’s so many. I’d have to go Richard Pryor because he’s the Jimi Hendrix of stand up comedy. He totally changed it.
What do you want to be remembered for?
I don’t know man, I don’t think about stuff like that. If nobody remembers me, I’ll understand.
Favorite joke of all time?
Don’t have one although there’s nothing funnier than seeing somebody fall down some stairs and break a plate glass window.
Besides laughing, what’s the best thing a crowd can do?
Ever on stage when you completely forget what it is you’re going to say next?
All the time.
What do you do?
Keep talking till something funny comes out.
Bill Burr will be performing at the Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater as a part of the South Beach Comedy Festival at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. on Friday, April 10. Visit southbeachcomedyfestival.com.
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