Penthouse Retrospective

by Nick Firchau Originally Published: June, 2011

Bill Burr | 10 Years Ago This Month

Veteran comic Bill Burr is best known for taking on — and destroying — an ornery crowd of thousands in Philadelphia in 2006.

Penthouse Magazine - June, 2011Ginger Ninja

Since that early Philadelphia night, though, Bill’s since expanded into movies, TV, and podcasts, all while maintaining his road-warrior stand-up schedule.

Bill Burr has come a long way since he told a Philadelphia audience to go ahead and die on the way home from his comedy show back in 2006. And that was one of the kinder sentiments he conveyed that night. In an epic, 14-minute rant at a hostile crowd during an Opie and Anthony tour stop, Burr unleashed a scorched-Earth tirade on the City of Brotherly Love that must be seen to be believed (try YouTube). Some of the gentler moments included, “The terrorists will never bomb you people, because you’re fucking worthless!” and “You one-bridge-having piece-of-shit city that no one fucking cares about.” It was a tour de force of improvised bile-spewing that, remarkably, never repeated itself and, even more remarkably, eventually won over the crowd.

But the Boston comic insists that legendary beat-down is no longer his signature moment, and he’s right. Burr is still a relentless road comic, he has two DV D specials, and he’s moved on to the roles of amateur psychologist and aspiring actor. His short film Cheat debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival this spring (which Burr calls the “March Madness of film festivals”), his “Monday Morning Pod cast” has a cult following, and he’s landed a guest role on the upcoming season of the Emmy-winning AMC series Breaking Bad. Yes, that dark, fucking hilarious night of the soul in Philly is long gone.

We found that out in a recent chat with Burr. during which he also told us about his busy schedule, helping hopeless romantics fall out of love, and how he’s dealing with the tyranny of Twitter.

I flipped by the movie Date Night recently, and there you were, playing a desk cop. I was thinking, Bill Burr’s an actor?

I will probably play a lot of cops or hairy best friends. Do you really think you’re going to see a redheaded male lead in an action movie? That’s truly when all groups will be able to celebrate that Hollywood has finally stopped with the stereotyping. Of course, then no one would go see the movie.

Is it true you’re doing an episode of Breaking Bad?

That’s my favorite show on TV, and pretty much the only show on TV that I can stand. I think I’ve seen every episode since the beginning, and I was on board from the first episode. I gotta admit that every time I went out there to do a scene and they did the little clap thing, the “take two,” I would see the Breaking Bad name on there and I would just smile to myself. I couldn’t believe I was doing the show.

A lot of people on your “Monday Morning Podcast” seek your advice on relationships or personal issues. I get the feeling you especially enjoy that part of the show.

A lot of the advice I give is based on my own failure [laughs]. I don’t have the answers, but sometimes people just need a nudge in the right direction. If you’re in a relationship and it sucks, but you’ve been in it so long you don’t how to get out, you just need someone to tell you, “Listen dude, it’s two hours, horrific conversation, she’s gonna cry. But the second you start, the hourglass turns over, and in two hours, you’re fucking outta there.”

You’ve branched into short-film production. There’s a lot on your plate now.

Yeah. I feel like the “Monday Morning Pod cast” is my own radio show, I’m making movies with my two best friends in the business [Bobby Kelly and Joe DeRosa]. and I have my stand-up act, which is just me going out and running my mouth. I also audition for things, like a Steve Carell movie, or I get to be on my favorite TV show. I really have no complaints.

Bill Burr went kicking and screaming to Twitter. How’s it going so far?

I stayed with Myspace until it was just me and a couple of people in bands, and maybe a few sexual predators. I realized it was sort of like, Well, so much for my little Norma Rae moment, so I went over to Facebook. But Twitter’s weird. It’s a 24-7 job. I feel like I’m working for some magazine and not getting paid for it.

There’s always this pressure to be witty, funny, and sharp, in 140 characters.

Right. When I first started using Twitter I would just hype my gigs. And then people would tell me, “Dude, I don’t really think you get the concept of Twitter.” No, I get the concept. I’m supposed to dance like a monkey for you all fucking day long now. I’m supposed to come up with little one-liners to make you giggle in your cubicle? Go fuck yourself. When something’s funny, I’ll write it. When it’s not, I won’t. The whole thing is flipped now. The crowd is in control.

Not surprisingly, you can find Bill Burr on his own site, but somewhat more uniquely you can also get to a good bit of entertainment beyond the simply tour date schedule that many stars provide. Watch some of it, and you may find a few more unique things about Bill.

Every comic sets out to be unique. Bill Burr probably started that same way, but he found a personality and took off running down the road.