Bill Burr on Family, Funnies and the 505
Bill Burr is an irritated comedian whose tone of voice is perpetually stuck in between laughing and yelling. He'll be in town to rile up audiences at the Route 66 Casino (14500 Central Ave. SW) on Friday, Dec. 1. Between his popular Monday Morning Podcast, raising a new kid and filming his new special, “Walk Your Way Out” (currently streaming on Netflix), we were able to get him on the phone to chat about his experiences in the 505, his new show, “F is for Family,” and some conspiracy theories.
Alibi: You worked on “Breaking Bad” for a little while and that was awesome. I remember being pretty surprised seeing you in those episodes.
Bill: I was surprised too. I was a huge fan of the show and at that point with my career, I would have loved to be on something like that. But being that I was a comedian and a redheaded male, we normally don't get into stuff like that. We're usually the nerdy friend so the fact that I actually got to play a scum bag on my favorite show was quite a thrill.
What was your experience like while you were in Albuquerque? How long were you here for?
I was never there for more than two or three days. Probably the longest I was there was when we did the train scene, where we robbed the train. But I enjoyed it. I couldn't believe how beautiful it was. I always pictured it to be like what the badlands look like in the southern part of the state. I really liked the pace of life out there. I mean the sunsets and sunrises were just incredible. It just kinda became one of my favorite places to go. I like off the beaten path stuff. Rather than Chicago I'd rather be in Milwaukee. I feel like everyone in the Southwest either settles in Phoenix or Denver, everyone ends up there and I much more prefer New Mexico and Utah. Any place where there's no people.
Let's talk about “F is for Family.” It's an awesome show. I just finished watching the second season on Netflix and I'm excited that it got picked up for a third season. How much of the story was based in real memory and events from your life versus made up?
Well, the storylines and stuff are just made up, but where my experience comes in is how things went down as far as big kids beating up little kids, volatile parents, the cool guy in the neighborhood, stuff like that. I try to keep a true line of reality with how things would go down. Basically real life in the '70s. I try not to have too many absurd things. I like comedy that's based in reality I mean, I know there's a lot of over the top stuff on the show but there's a basic true line of reality that I think makes the show different and cool.
How was it working with Mike Price? That guy was a huge part of my childhood with “Aaahh!!! Real Monsters” and “The Simpsons.” It sounds like it could be kind of intimidating working next to him.
Yeah, if you look at Mike's IMDB page it's very intimidating. But when you meet Mike, he's one of the nicest guys on the planet. He's just the best guy and he's one of those hugely successful guys that [success] luckily did not go to his head at all. He's not an ego guy. He's just a fun guy to work with, has a great laugh, great sense of humor and he runs it. It's weird like he really knows what he's doing but he's also really relaxed. When you go in there it's not a highly stressed environment. I can honestly tell you that there's no way I could do the show without him. Because I don't know what the hell I'm doing.
On the line of family, what's it like being a new dad? And more importantly, how were you able to justify bringing another person into the world with your publicly intense views on over-population and population control?
Alright, first of all, being a dad is the greatest thing ever. It's one of the few things that not only lived up to the hype, it exceeded the hype.
How I justify bringing another person into the world is I'm almost 50. So by the time she gets to a certain age I'll be dead and gone. Plus, me and my wife are two people and we only created one person so we cut ourselves in half. If everybody did what we did, waited until later in life and only had one kid, the population would be cut in half.
So doing offensive jokes on stage—
I do no offensive jokes on stage. There's nothing in my act that is offensive. Unless you take it seriously. And that is a personal choice.
Okay. Wow. I really like that.
And more comedians need to say that because it's one of those things that just because you decide to take it seriously does not mean that I meant it. And the arrogance of a comedy fan like that to sit there and try to tell you what you meant by your joke ... I mean they can get offended and you can go like, “Hey man, I didn't mean that I was just joking around” and for them to be like “No! There was an underlying meaning” and it's like, what? Are you in my head? Do you know what I'm thinking more than I do? I'm the guy thinking my thoughts. That's such like a paper tiger thing I don't understand why comedians ever apologize. I mean, I've gotten actually really mad on stage at people and just stopped doing my standup comedy and just said something mean to that person. Now, then I did mean what I said but afterwards I don't owe the entire internet an apology—I owe that person an apology.
That's like all of these sexual misconduct things. Not assault. Sexual misconducts. For someone to be like “Oh, this person grabbed my ass in 1973,” like, I just look at that like, can't you just work that out amongst yourselves? Does that really have to be a national story that somebody grabbed your ass? It's hilarious. I swear to God I've been doing this joke—if you knew what it was like to be a comedian on the road, if you go out to do meet and greets, I'm telling you right now, those cougars, good lord! If they actually made cougars apologize for their sexual misconduct after shows it would never end. I don't know. I just know when a woman does it to a guy it's considered funny.
Tell me about the Patrice O'Neal benefit that you put on every year?
Oh, that's my favorite thing. That's basically like a standup comedian high school reunion. We all get together and we do it in the NYC City Center. This will be the sixth time that we're doing it. We always have just a killer lineup and the money that we raise is given to his mom, who he was taking care of. It's something I'm really proud of because you know, I've had a lot of friends die and they always have one benefit afterwards that's like, “here's the one sack of money you have to live off of for the rest of your life” and the bills keep coming so this is this thing every year that we do to make sure the loved ones that he was taking care of are financially still taken care of. They don't have to worry about anything other than going through the grief of losing him as a son or uncle or whatever and that's all they should have to handle, I think. We take care of that and considering comedians, we're a bunch of knuckleheads, so it's a miracle we're able to get together every year. I know I'm impressed.
What are some of your favorite conspiracy theories right now?
If we're talking about ones that I think are real ... I am always into the super elite, highly secretive, Illuminati type of stuff. It's the stuff that people laugh off and I believe that there's a group of people at the top that want to run everything—certainly corporations do, that's the way that they operate. They want to buy up everything and own everything. The conspiracies that I'm into are depressing. I think this whole stuff thats going on in the Middle East, our approach to it—they're gonna bleed us dry, financially. What we should do is be embracing solar power and electrical power and even though that uses oil, I think we have enough oil over here to keep it running. They're like a one trick pony over there. They're like the Wicks and Sticks, like, they just sell candles. So if we stop buying candles, they don't have any money to funnel to the terrorists and then the whole thing goes away. If everyone just rode a bicycle over here for like six months they'd go bankrupt. They'd be panicked. And that would just be it. And then all you do is just convince them [oil companies] that oil isn't worth anything anymore and you just say that they own the sun now and then we just switch over to solar power and then they can totally control us and keep living their fancy lives by owning the sun. Why don't we just do that and make them not interested in the oil over there, I don't know.
But you can't say things like that because criticizing any type of critical thinking about what we're doing over there is saying that you don't appreciate the men and women that are fighting over there. It's a really brilliant campaign that they have over there that if you question that, then you don't support this and therefore you're now mentally in ISIS.
Like they're gaslighting us into being compliant?
Yeah. I also think that this country has guilt over the way that they treated the Vietnam veterans coming back and I feel like the people in power are taking advantage of that. As a patriotic American who likes to balance his books, I am terrified about the amount of money that we're spending over there. It's like we're doing this remodel on a house without a budget. See, it gets depressing.
Other than that you know, like … robots.
How's your dog?
That's the funniest segues ever. I get it, we got too deep there. How's my dog? She's awesome. I saw her the other day. She has a new home.
She's not with you anymore?
No, she was too erratic and crazy and I couldn't trust her, to be honest with you. She was human aggressive and she kept getting more and more aggressive to the point where she bit one of my friends and I just can't have a baby with a dog that bites. And I was sad that that happened but I listened to my brain rather than my heart and we got her a new home. I still get to see her once every couple of months when she comes to town and I miss her like hell. It was one of the toughest things but smartest things I've ever done.
Pineapple on pizza—okay, or not okay?
It's okay in my world. I like everything. This is how much I like pizza: I like anchovies and pineapples. I can do either one of those pizzas. I can go totally salty. I can go sugary, whatever you want to do. Although I will tell you, as far as toppings go, I am definitely a limit guy. When it comes to toppings, toppings should compliment the slice of pizza—it should not overwhelm it. Whenever they start putting chicken on it you can't even tell that you're eating pizza anymore. That's another thing, with all these fast food places and the insanity of the cheese that they put on there. The cheese is supposed to complement the sauce it's not supposed to overwhelm it. I feel strongly about this.
Well I’m excited to see you this Friday, Dec. 1 at Route 66 Casino. I think it's gonna be a great show.
It's such a cool casino too. Such a great name and it's out there in the middle of the desert. Like I said, I like Albuquerque, Milwaukee, I like Chattanooga. Let everybody else go to Nashville, Chicago, Denver, they just gravitate where everybody's at. I'm a big less-is-more guy.