Bill Burr Has No Time for ‘Racist Morons’

The same people mad at affirmative action had no problem with segregation
Bill Burr Has No Time for ‘Racist Morons’

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When it comes to accusatory fingers, Bill Burr has no problem pointing one at himself, conspiracy theorists, or “racist morons,” he recently told The Detroit News. “I've been having a fun time examining, you know, things like why people have a real problem with affirmative action but had no problem with segregation?” 

On his current tour, Burr has been making a comedy meal out of juxtaposing those mental gymnastics. “I always compare it to like boarding on Delta Airlines where everyone's trying to protect their status as if it's racial, rather than what row you're sitting in.”

Burr doesn’t exclude himself from targets worthy of his comic wrath. “I'm definitely always examining why I'm such an idiot,” he says. While his comedy has always been a mix of topical humor and family-life jokes, he’s always “looking where I can get the areas of my life where I could use some improvement.” 

“No one's out there like 'what I'm gonna do today, I'm gonna be a bad person,'” Burr says about the appeal of brutal self-deprecation. “Nobody's thinking that, but you end up doing things and saying things that you regret or whatever you are, you just keep making the same mistake. And that human experience I find, like just trying to improve yourself, change results or just get out of a rut is very relatable. I think people connect with it and it makes me feel good hearing them connect with it. So I don't feel alone.”

Another odd juxtaposition is the idea of Burr picking apart his personal failings as he ascends to the tier of comics who can sell out arenas. The pressures of playing to monstrous crowds were enough to make comedians like Steve Martin quit comedy. How is Burr handling the transition to the really big rooms? “They're pretty nerve-wracking because you got to sell a bunch of tickets,” he says, “but the shows are always great. And I'm always amazed how much they figured out the sound at these bigger venues where I mean you can take (the audience) on the same sort of ride you can at a comedy club where you can bring them down, you can get them going up.”

“I'm not gonna lie to you, you definitely have imposter syndrome when you first get in there, like why are all these people coming to see me?” he says. “So the fact that people are showing up is, you know, amazing. And then also, I don't take the responsibility of that lightly. You can't be doing shows and just be on cruise control. You really gotta make sure everybody gets their money's worth.”

It almost sounds like Burr, a notoriously cranky comic, is actually enjoying himself. And he is — sort of, after the fact. “People say 'Make sure you're taking it in,'” he grumbles. “This is stand-up comedy, you can't take it in. If I start sitting back looking at the joke I just told, my timing is off and I immediately start bombing.” 

“I can reflect on it afterwards, does that count?”


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