Comedian Bill Burr is making his triumphant return to Boston this weekend as he gears up to headline The Wilbur Theatre for a record six shows beginning on Thursday, February 21. The beloved Boston native is one of the top comedic voices of his generation achieving success in TV and film as well as the live stage.
Selling out theaters internationally, Burr is a regular with Letterman, Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon; his third hour-long comedy special, “You People Are All The Same”, is available for download through his website and premiered on Netflix in August. Bill is currently filming Walk of Shame with Elizabeth Banks and can be seen in the recently released film Stand Up Guys alongside Christopher Walken and Al Pacino, and also has a role in the upcoming Paul Feig film, The Heat, starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. In celebration of his six-show Boston run, Burr recently sat down with the Boston Comedy Scene Examiner to talk about what is undoubtedly a banner year for the comedian.
BCSE: “Thanks for chatting with me today, Bill.”
BB: “Thanks for letting me run my mouth and promote my show.”
BCSE: “So, are you trying to break a record here? We've got six shows now?”
BB: “I can't believe the level of support that I've gotten back there in Boston. They kept selling, and we kept adding, and people kept buying and, yeah, it's unreal. Actually, to be honest with you, I'm trying not to think about it because, obviously, I'm from there and I used to do Dick Doherty's Comedy Vault right across the way...Nick's Comedy Stop and all of those. Look at me, I can't even find the words...ridiculous.”
BCSE: “Well, if you couldn't tell you're very much loved in your hometown.”
BB: “Yeah, it's gonna be fun.”
BCSE: “Who are you going to have as an opener?”
BB: “I'm working with the Teen Idol Sensation from the Opie & Anthony program, Joe DeRosa. That's his official nick name, so we need to get that in the article. The Teen Idol Sensation.”
BCSE: “Are we going to start seeing some Teen Beat centerfolds of Joe?”
BB: “Oh yeah, he's already done it. They're in negotiations to see if he can do the anniversary issue, which is, of course, their biggest issue every five years.”
BCSE: “So did I hear you correctly on a recent podcast, you've never seen The Exorcist?”
BB: “Did I say I never saw The Exorcist? No, no....it was something else. If I accidentally said The Exorcist, I meant something else. I didn't see Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory until a couple of years ago. I'm 44, so I didn't see it until I was about 39/40. All those years of being in comedy clubs and all those people making references to Oompa Loompas, when I finally saw it, it was an amazing thing for me. I said, 'Oh, that's what they're talking about!' I was also really surprised at how mean - I mean, like the fat kid who dives into the chocolate river, I dunno. It’s like, 'You're out!' I can't even remember how the movie goes, that's another thing about it.”
BCSE: “We're talking the original, right? Not the remake with Johnny Depp?”
BB: “Oh yeah, the original. Although you could have told me the original was the one with Johnny Depp and I would have believed it for about ten minutes.”
BCSE: “So you're having an amazing year and it's still quite early. You've got a movie out with Christopher Walken and Al Pacino?”
BB: “And Alan Arkin, yeah, called Stand Up Guys. I'm in that thing for about eight seconds - greatest eight seconds of my life though. To put it into a sports analogy, it would be like getting to play hockey with Bobby Orr. It's like, I was really anxious about going down there. I was worried that, basically, everybody on the movie would be like, 'Why did we hire this bum? What is this red-headed jerk doing here?' But fortunately, I went down there - I didn't get to meet Alan Arkin, but all my scenes were with Walken and Pacino and they were just the nicest, most down-to-earth guys. I couldn't get over how much fun they were having - they were still just having a great time. That's what I took away the most - when you're new to doing these acting gigs, you're so thinking about 'Okay, don't screw this up. Don't get fired, don't get yelled at - don't say the wrong thing to anybody.' You really can get in your head, and to watch these guys; the amount of fun that they're having and how they do every take differently so it's not monotonous for them. It was great. It totally lived up to the hype and then some. Walken was hilarious and Pacino was just an absolute sweetheart of a guy - really warm, just a great guy. If they were coming at me with attitude, whatever they said I just would have been like, 'I know! You're right, I stink! You're absolutely right! Throw some more hot coffee in my face, you've earned it! You've earned the right!'”
BCSE: “You're also in a movie coming out in April, The Heat. Tell me a little about that role.”
BB: “That one was a lot of fun. With Paul Feig, who did Bridesmaids, and he's really big on just getting a bunch of funny people together, turning the cameras on and letting them go. I'm part of the Mullins family, which is Melissa McCarthy's family, and I couldn't have had more fun on that movie. That movie was just one of those things where after every take, everybody's laughing and the crew - when you get the crew going, you know what I mean? When you get those guys going you know something good's happening. They got some pretty high hopes for that one. It's tested really well. Look, I'm a stand-up comedian, I'm always going to be, and these movie things are like....I feel literally like a radio contest winner when I'm in them. Like, I can't believe they let me do them. So, I don't care how small the role is, if I get one line in a movie, I'm psyched. I still have that, 'I'm in a movie, this is crazy!’ you know?”
BCSE: “What I like about your acting roles is that it's not always comedy based.”
BB: “Yeah, comedians have the ability to feel other emotions. It's nice that there's guys out there like Vince Gilligan on Breaking Bad - Bob Odenkirk's a comedian, Lavell Crawford's a comedian, I'm a comedian; his name escapes me but one of Jessie's friends - and I love that guy - I hate that I don't know his name off the top of my head. He's such a good actor. One of those episodes I did, at the top of the scene, it was me, Lavell and Bob Odenkirk and I really got a kick out of the fact that for about three seconds, the best drama on television probably ever was being held down by three comedians. I thought that was cool.”
Comedian Bill Burr will headline six shows this weekend at The Wilbur Theater from Thursday, February 21st to Saturday, February 23rd, but if you didn’t already pick up tickets, you’ll be missing out since all six shows are completely sold out. To listen to the BCSE’s entire interview with Burr, head on over to the BCSE podcast, Angie’s Laughing Matters.