Four years ago, Bill Burr infamously turned the tables on a horribly behaved audience in Philadelphia. Since then, most comedy fans have come around to Burr's way of thinking, but it has been interesting to see what the comedian has been up to recently. Whether seeing him headline an hour at Carolines in New York City, do a one-man show or showcase sets at Just For Laughs in Montreal, Burr has seemed more than content to launch a first strike offensive against the audience from the very top of his set, acknowledging "I've dug myself a hole in the first thirty seconds" or something to that effect.
It's not that Burr wants the audience to hate him. It seems as though he merely wants to challenge their pre-conceived notions on what constitutes societal norms. Burr performed last night on Late Show with David Letterman, and there, he could not get away with opening on a bit wherein he attempts to put a new perspective on domestic abuse, but he does something even more challenging. On Letterman's stage, Burr opened by taking on Oprah. I'm sure Letterman's audience didn't know what to do with that, what with Letterman's long awkward history with Oprah. Burr was taking on Oprah's stance that mothers have the most important jobs, and from there, he also tells audience members that they're wrong to think they're "rescuing" dogs. Like I said, it's really something to see how Burr puts the audience back on their heels and is fully at ease with the challenge of getting them to come around to his side. It's not the kind of set designed for maximum applause breaks. But isn't a comedian looking for laughs more than applause, anyhow? Give this a watch/listen and see what you think: