Bill Burr recently had his own HBO half-hour special, and I wanted to know what he meant in a MySpace blog posting about moving 20 minutes from the end of his set to the front.
"Early in my career, joke order was really important, because you had no idea what you were doing…I knew you had to get ’em quick. You wanted to start off, Vinny Favorito told me this, you want to start with your second-best joke and end with your best joke…(in between)…I feel there has to be a flow to your ideas where you go from one to the other and it becomes this seemless thing. I know what I’m talking about upfront and I know what I’m ending with. If I do an hour, from 12 minutes in to 40 minutes is up in the air with what I’m going to talk about…if it’s even going to be prepared, if I’m going to be screwing around…that’s what made the HBO special so much fun…I 70 percent knew what I was going to talk about in the middle."
"I’ve written a whole new hour since I did the HBO thing last year. That’s something I’m really proud of. always want to stay ahead of people who saw me on TV. They think they want to see what you said on TV, but there’s always something about a joke, the second time you hear it — there’s a surprise in it, but if you always know where it’s going…even if it’s live, I think it’s a lot better to hit people on the head with new stuff."
Burr was part of an explosion of Boston comedians who all came up and seemed to move to New York and onto bigger and better things at the same time.
"My guys, we were all so prolific. I came up with Dane Cook, Patrice Oneal, Bob Marley and Robert Kelly, and we all pushed each other along. It was a nice healthy competitiveness when we came along. I’m real thankful that I started out with them…these are a real motivated group of guys that I started out with."
He left Boston for NYC in 1995 (and recently moved to L.A. in 2007). Going back home was odd.
"I knew I did the Kowloon one time in the late ’90s. I went in there and expected to see Dane, Patrice and all the guys in the back and there was nobody…there’s always that feeling of going back to your high school or going to your elementary school and thinking, ‘I used to fit in that chair?’"