Having just completed a long stint of convalescence due to a severe injury, I have come to appreciate the power of laughing at shit when it goes horribly wrong. Thanks to the wealth of comedy specials on Netflix (and painkillers…lots of them), I was kept from going stir-crazy while the rest of you schlepped about in winter storms. I have always appreciated (and mildly obsessed over) comedy and comedians, but I had no idea my appreciation for the art would grow even more as I discovered the healing power of laughing your ass off.
This blog post however, is not about me. It is about the fact that wildly funny, Bill Burr will be ranting at the TD Place on Sunday April 3rd. I had the incredibly fortunate opportunity to speak with Bill about his last show in Ottawa, his new material and his proudest moment outside of standup.
“Comedy is a nighttime/indoor thing”, Bill said after I asked him about his set at the 2015 Bluesfest. “It’s a bunch of people standing up who have been listening to music – they are tired and drunk. It’s so hard to make them one cohesive unit. It’s like trying to hold a big glass of water in your hands. You’ve got to hold as much of the water as you can but most of it is going to slip through your fingers and end up on the floor and that’s what doing standup outside typically feels like but this one was amazing. I guess people in Ottawa are just that cool evidently.”
When you learn new things you make a fool of yourself and that’s where material comes from. You have a whole new bag of references that you could make.
He is looking forward to being more in his element this time around. “Doing stand-up inside where people are seated and focused on the stage, you’d have to do a lot to mess that up.”
Like all talented comedians, Bill points out the absurdity in life through what he calls his ‘uneducated rants’. Recently he set his sights on show business, specifically the Oscars. “Other than going to my high school or college graduation I can’t think of a more boring night than to go to an award show. It’s absurd.”
Bill works out his material doing small sets on stage. “I have just been going up there and bragging about how white people crushed it on Oscar night. Everybody knows I am just joking but it’s fun to go up there and turn the table. The whole thing is absurd. Wanting to have equal opportunities in show business makes sense but getting upset as an adult because you’re not going to win a trophy is absurd. There is no way to be in entertainment and complaining in my world without it being absurd.”
Bill points this out with the hope that people can feel empowered in this tough business. “One thing I think that is lacking with the whole thing is telling people how much power they have, especially now with the fact that you can shoot a movie on your iPhone. That is the main thing I tell young people coming up in this business is as much as you can every day, create your own opportunities and put it out there somewhere.”
Bill claimed that once he learned this himself, he’s become more appreciative of the business. Burr has done this throughout his career touring extensively, hosting a twice weekly rant on The Monday Morning Podcast, and creating his new animated series on Netflix: F is for Family, which premiered in December and is loosely based on his childhood.
“The people who I admire in this business are the people who got themselves on the other side of the table. They are the people creating the projects.”
Outside of stand-up, Bill also enjoys jamming on his SG and playing drums. More recently though he was awarded a helicopter pilot’s license in a moment he called “my proudest outside of doing stand-up”. According to Bill, having a rich life outside of comedy nurtures his talent.
“When you learn new things you make a fool of yourself and that’s where material comes from. You have a whole new bag of references that you could make.”
Bill Burr performs at the Arena at TD Place (1015 Bank Street) on Sunday, April 3, 2016. Tickets start at $35.50 and can be purchased online.