If you were to take all of Bill Burr’s jokes at face value, he’d come across as a misogynistic, homophobic, racist psychopath you would want no business being around. Especially if you’re a woman. But he’s not. Because he’s joking. He said so.
“If I’m saying something and I’m joking, then I’m joking. This is the deal, those people who get offended like that, if they want to see standup comedy, they should hire a comic for a private show and go, ‘These are the topics you can talk about and these are the topics you don’t.’ So you come into the hostile environment of a comedy club, and we get to say whatever we want,” he told Jerry Seinfeld in an episode of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”.
At 47, Bill Burr is touted as one of comedy’s best in the biz. The Rolling Stone called him “the undisputed heavyweight champ of rage-fueled humor.” The New York Times wrote that Burr “has been one of the funniest, most distinctive voices in the country for years.” The Montreal Gazette called Burr, “a cynic and a contrarian who has never paid any heed to political correctness.” A comedian’s comedian, he’s been referred to time and time again.
So you know what you are signing up for when you dredge up a hefty chunk of cash to go see Burr spit funnies. You’re paying for one of America’s premier comedians, and one of its most controversial. But even then, there’s always someone in the crowd that manages to get their panties in a twist, as Burr has duly noted.
“There’s this new level of, like, selfishness when you go to a comedy club—where they’ll watch you for forty minutes and take everything as a joke, and then all of a sudden you’ll hit a topic that’s sensitive to them, and then all of a sudden you’re making statements.”
Burr, who has been touring for more than twenty years, knows that with great humour comes great responsibility. He knows that, he understands that, but it doesn’t faze him one bit. As he put it so kindly in his latest special, “If you’re being a dick, then yeah, apologize. But other than that, go fuck yourself.”
Perhaps it is fitting then, that Burr has been a special guest on the Conan show for as long as he’s been a comedy A-Lister. The renowned Conan O’ Brien, with his sardonic humor and a no-shits-given attitude, is an apt pairing for the highly flammable Bill Burr. Conan seems to bring out the best (or the worst) in Burr, sparking his inner rage about larger-than-life individuals such as Donald Trump, Lance Armstrong, and Bruce-turned-Caitlyn Jenner.
A few months ago, he took a jab at Jenner’s ample new bosom (figuratively), “So, uh, can your Olympic back handle a D cup or something a little more perky?”
“I miss that guy. I miss him already,” he added. “He should have told us. He should have given us a chance to say goodbye.”
He joked about how ludicrous it was that you couldn’t make fun of Caitlyn’s transition, lest you risk being called a bigot.
You couldn’t on any level be like, ‘Oh my god, what the eff,’ on any level. You couldn’t say that or you’re automatically homophobic. If you shave your beard off, people are like, ‘Oh, that’s your chin, wow!’ This guy walked out a dude, came back a woman, and you’re just supposed to be like, ‘Oh, yes, so anyways, Caitlyn.’
He was deadpan as he said it, so maybe, you know, he was joking? Still, the backlash was swift and harsh; fueled by left-leaning internet denizens on the Twitterverse. But Burr powers on, unperturbed. Seinfeld’s description of Burr is apropos, “He walks like a boss and talks like a boss.”
Bill Burr has made a desperate plea to wipe out 85% of humanity for three specials in a row. “Waiting,” as he puts it, “for some politician to have the balls to bring it up, but they won’t do it. They won’t do it, we live in a democracy.”
If you were to take that at face value, he would most likely be reined in on charges of terrorism. And the world needs less terrorists, and more Bill Burrs.
Above: Watch Bill Burr riff on the N Word, basketball brawls and more… What’s that you said about political correctness?