Stand-up comedian Bill Burr talks about his career in exclusive interview

By DAVID GLASS | October 18, 2018

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COURTESY OF PAM LOSHAK Comedian Bill Burr will perform his routine at The Modell Lyric in Baltimore on Oct. 18.

I had the pleasure of interviewing the one and only Bill Burr on Friday, Oct. 12. For those who don’t know, Burr is a 50-year-old comedian from Canton, Mass. His brand of comedy is filled with rage and poking fun at various aspects of everyday life. 

I was first introduced to Burr early on in high school. I had fallen in love with Comedy Central Roasts, which led to my passion for stand-up. I explored various types of comedians, from Chris Rock to Greg Giraldo, and soon enough I found myself watching “Why Do I Do This,” Burr’s first stand-up special.

I couldn’t stop listening to his voice; it had this homey feel to it. I’m not from the Boston area, but his persistent loudness and vulgarity, along with his ability to speak his mind without a care in the world, resonated with me. I’ve been a huge fan of his ever since.

Recently, my friends and I watched (and rewatched) “Let It Go,” Burr’s second special. The creativity involved in turning such commonplace subjects into comedy is truly captivating, making it so easy to appreciate his work. 

Lately, he has been preparing for the November release of season three of his show, F Is for Family. He is the show’s creator and voices the role of Frank Murphy, a foul-mouthed veteran who’s constantly dealing with new drama. The show follows Murphy and his family during the 1970s, when political correctness was not necessarily people’s priority. 

Burr discussed the most enjoyable parts of having his own animated series.

“I like the writing aspect of it. This season was probably the easiest because we’ve already done it two other times, so it moved a little bit faster,” he said.

The cast also includes Big Little Lies actress Laura Dern, who plays Frank’s wife Sue Murphy, and Skylanders Academy voice actor Justin Long, who plays Kevin Murphy, Frank and Sue’s delinquent eldest son. 

He then explained what he has gained working with his colleagues. 

“What I learned is the great ones are really open,” he said. “They come in and they’re not afraid. They have an inability to feel foolish.”

He also touched on what fans can expect to see in season three.

“I think it’s our funniest season. You can expect Frank and Sue basically to learn that they need to be a little more involved in their family,” he said. 

Burr expressed excitement over bringing on Vince Vaughn as an executive producer.

“You talk about one of the funniest people ever.,” he said. “To get in the booth with that guy and trying to keep up was definitely one of the thrills of the show.”

I then asked Burr some general questions about his profession, including its best and worst aspects.

His favorite part is the fact that he gets to live out his lifelong dream of being a comedian. The worst part? 

“The commute to Los Angeles,” he said. 

When asked which question he could ask himself that would get the most interesting answer, Burr responded exactly as I had hoped. 

“Are you ever going to get your shit together?” he said.

As a fan of stand-up, I have become increasingly concerned for the industry, as society places more of an emphasis on political correctness. In an interview with ESPN a few years ago, Jerry Seinfeld advised fellow comedians to avoid performing on college campuses specifically. He believes the atmosphere can only lead comedy on a “self-destructive path.”

Burr has a differing opinion, calling Seinfeld’s notion a “paper tiger.” He feels that people’s senses of humor haven’t wavered and the types of jokes that used to be hits are still killing.

Instead, his concern is regarding the well-being of those who are not at fault.

“A lot of these things people are trying to fix, obviously people want to fix them,” he said. “But the way people are going about certain things, it’s really reckless and very frontier social media justice. If they’re not careful, they’re going to really hurt somebody who didn’t do anything.”

The Massachusetts native will perform two shows on Thursday, Oct. 18 at The Modell Lyric in Baltimore, one at 7 p.m. followed by another at 10:30 p.m. 

Burr was slightly hesitant to answer when asked about his favorite “Bill Burr” joke.

“Right now, it’s a joke I can’t repeat because printed...it’ll be taken out of context, and some soccer mom will read it and next thing you know I’ll have to go on an apology tour,” he said. “So you have to come to my show.”

If that isn’t enough motivation to buy a ticket, Burr also spoke very highly of his current opening act, Sam Jay. 

Opening for Burr in both Baltimore and Atlantic City, N.J., Jay is a writer for Saturday Night Live who Burr believes is one of today’s most underappreciated comics. 

Finally, Burr mentioned that the hour and a half he’ll be performing is in tip-top shape and that he’s ready to record it, so fans should purchase tickets while they still have the chance. 

I will definitely be starting my lengthy fall break watching Burr perform. One day I’m writing for the Sports section, and the next day I get a call that I’ll have the opportunity to interview one of my favorite comedians. How could I pass up the chance to see him in person?

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