Bill Burr Finds His Mainstream Voice
When Bill Burr speaks, even wives listen. That's to our benefit, even if it makes us just a little anxious. Tweet
If good comedy has a medicinal value, helping us rise above our tiresome, chronic misery...
...then Bill Burr is the doctor feel-good of our age, a balm for the current global pandemic of self-seriousness
Bill Burr has something constructive to say to both men and women.
As you know, I am a big fan of this comedian. His last Netflix special, Paper Tiger, was a tour de force, woke to the problem of the woke, and finding a global audience that needed his sense of humor. For that reason, PM gave him our Lenny Bruce Award.
Burr is busy working on his next special, which I had a chance to see at the HardRock Casino in Hollywood, Florida. It’s another diamond in the making.
Covid has been good to this particular man’s plan. Bill Burr has spent his time at home like the the rest of us, in close quarters with wives, kids, and neighbors—one of whom put a big pile of dog shit in his garbage. He came out of Covid—and a mushroom trip in the desert—with a deeper clarity to his comedic mind. A bad trip took him to a good place, with residual benefits to all with ears to hear.
We were scheduled to go to Vegas to celebrate a friend’s anniversary but the recent spike in Delta variant and Vegas’ need to stay ahead of public health authorities and their desire to shut down national destinations like Vegas—and Sturgis—was requiring mandatory masks for all. So we said another day to Vegas and I picked out four tickets for Burr’s performance at the HardRock.
Burr came out of Covid with a deeper clarity to his comedic mind.
This was my first time seeing Burr live. One of the joys of watching a comedy show by yourself is that you don’t have worry about how other brains that you care about are processing what they are hearing.
Edgy comedians—like porn—are best enjoyed alone if your goal is enjoyment without judgment. I had Mrs. Shepherd and my buddy Sandman’s wife on my right. All but me were virgins to Burr’s brand of candid, truth-in-jest comedy.
There is a classic sketch that Key and Peele have of two guys talking macho smack about the women in their lives. Just before and after they drop the bomb of their remarks, their heads ratchet around to make sure their respective women are not in earshot. That is how I felt at the outset; my head was turning right and left to see how my wife and my buddy’s wife were processing what I was hearing and thoroughly enjoying—even if it was not as loudly as it would be if I were at home with access to a bottle of Johnny Walker Black, a bucket of ice, a pause button and and a toilet.
I think it’s bad form to retell another man’s jokes—even if those jokes came at a cost of $500 per ticket. What I will tell you, if you are fortunate to catch him on this tour—bring your significant other! (Tour schedule here). What makes this advice stand out is that Burr doesn’t simply divide the sides into opposing camps of Woke and unWoke, men and women, right or left. He uses his comedic genius to bridge the divide. The best comedy is like the best medicine. Understanding what ails another (diagnosis) and the trajectory of that ailment unless something is done (prognosis) does not always result in a prescription that brings relief to the patient. Burr leaves his audience better.
Boys, girls, men, women, husbands and wives all suffer from the chronic disease of modern unhappiness. Burr does not offer a cure because there is no cure for the human condition, but he does give both women and men the self-knowledge that just might—if taken to mind and heart—make our pursuit of happiness together a little more rational and joyful. Mrs. Shepherd and Mrs. Sandman loved it and found in Burr a profound class clown of the human condition.
There is a riff that I feel that Burr would not mind if I shared because it certainly won’t make it into his next Netflix special. Burr had some good fun at Florida’s expense. My favorite was the observation that Florida’s population draws from all over the country, that those who lived here once upon a time came from places with rules. But now that they live in Florida, they don’t want to live by any rules. The audience responded with a full dose of laughter.
Until Vegas is fully open, think of Florida and the HardRock Casino as FLegas—a live-free-and-maybe-die (but probably not) state. (Copyright pending.) Sadly, what happens here is covered nationally and poorly.
Thank you, Bill Burr.