Bill Burr may get worked up onstage when he's on a comedic roll, and his everyman take on the world that's rumbling and crumbling all around us has picked up steam — as well as a slew of new fans of his stand-up comedy. Thank repeated airings of his 2008 special, Why Do I Do This?, on Comedy Central, for helping to spread the word of Burr. When he last headlined Carolines in New York City, fans made special trips to the Big Apple from as far away as Montana and Florida, just to see him perform live and meet him in person.
Burr is back at Carolines this weekend (April 30-May 3), and I caught up with him recently to talk about where his career goes from here. (Related: I also shot a short video riding in a taxicab with Bill Burr)
Burr recorded a pilot for Comedy Central in the past year. It made the network's short list for final consideration, and when they passed, he admitted it was a tough blow; but at the same time, also inspiring. He realized he could and did want to do more. That's one of the reasons he moved from New York City to Los Angeles last year. After having the run of the Big Apple's biggest clubs and touring the country as a headliner, what would the next step be?
More after the jump…
"You just challenge yourself," Burr told me. "What do I want to do that scares the shit out of me?"
One Monday at the Punchline in San Francisco, for instance, Burr found himself talking for an hour and 15 minutes onstage, not doing his regular bits but instead talking about his childhood. Very personal. "Stuff I'd never say on television," he said. "I went home that night and wrote almost 30 pages. I don't know what I'm going to do with it."
A one-man show, perhaps? Or a book?
Burr also has been taking improv classes with The Groundlings. It reminded him of watching Boston improvisers back in the early 1990s, and he cracked up continuously trying to tell me about one guy in particular named Todd Parker. He also remembered seeing Dane Cook, Robert Kelly and Al Del Bene in their improv group, Al and the Monkeys. In fact, Burr and Kelly shared a place in NYC years later, and when Kelly moved out, he left behind an old recording of Al and the Monkeys. "The funniest thing watching it was the accents," Burr said. "It had red tape on it, like it was a porno. That, and (Kelly's) Rico Suave haircut he used to have."
Our conversation inevitably turned back to our current reality. And Burr gets worked up again, just thinking about how the global economic crisis happened. He said we've gotten hijacked by the banks. "Who's going to stick up for us?!" Well, in a way, Bill Burr does. As he continues to talk, you realize that in Burr, you see a guy who has gone about his daily business, paying his bills, following the rules, only to realize that in 2009, none of that seems to have mattered. "Now I've learned to hate morons and rich people equally," he said. "I'm stuck right in the middle of them." We hear you, Bill. We hear you.