Breaking Bad fans, rejoice. Actor, stand-up and podcast mogul Bill Burr arrives in Houston on September 23 for a one-night-only concert in Jones Hall.
The 47-year-old comedian, known to many for his work on AMC’s beloved meth-centric drama, admits he hasn’t “done a full night for Texas in years” but is excited to be “spewing the same ignorance” that’s made him noteworthy. And after 23 years in the laughter business, Burr thinks he’s finally starting to get the hang of things: “I probably started getting comfortable about 8-10 years in. Then it took me another six to seven years to get [ready to record] my first stand-up special. And there was no big click. It was just a slow trajectory of 15 years of going up every single night until it all becomes muscle memory, until it becomes second nature. Every failure was a good exercise.”
Burr’s claims honing his conversational delivery took “confidence” more than anything else, with most of his material stemming from, as he puts it, “my own failures and talking through them.” Uniquely, Burr is one of a few comedians who never writes down his material. He explains, “If something funny happened to you, you’d go home and tell your girlfriend or wife or whatever. You’d just tell her the story, you wouldn’t write it down and memorize. What I’m trying to do is get that level of comfort on stage where I can walk out and act like I’m just talking to a bunch of my friends.”
Beyond stand-up, Burr has made quite a name for himself with his acting work. He describes his supporting role as lawyer Saul Goodman’s henchman Kuby on Breaking Bad as “a crazy ride.” Burr says he was a fan of the critically decorated program “from the pilot on” and getting to work with co-stars Bob Odenkirk and Lavell Crawford was “awesome [because] they’re both stand-ups and we’re wired the same way.” Despite appearing with both Odenkirk and Crawford “only twice” during the series, Burr takes pride in the fact that “for five seconds, three stand-up comedians were holding down the best drama on television.” Before adding, with a laugh, “and of course Bryan Cranston walks in two seconds later to make sure we didn’t screw it all up!”
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Outside of Breaking Bad, Burr has appeared in a number of films including Stand-Up Guys with Al Pacino, The Heat with Melissa McCarthy, Black or White with Kevin Costner and Date Night with Steve Carell and Tina Fey. “My IMDB pages is a quick read, but man, have I gotten to paratroop into some really cool things,” Barr proclaims.
Come December, Burr will get to add one more title to his resume: F is for Family, a new animated offering from Netflix that Barr will co-create and star in, alongside Justin Long and Laura Dern. “I developed [the show] with Mike Price for The Simpsons, and it’s all about the Murphy Family in 1973.” On the show’s origins, Burr elaborates: “I was telling childhood stories early in my career, and they were killing. But as I got older, this next generation came of age. The generation that wore helmets while riding bikes, and had ‘play dates’ and just had this very supervised childhood,” he says with disdain. “Slowly, those big laughs turned into silences and groans.” Animation seemed to be the natural answer to Burr’s generational problem. “It’s the best thing I’ve been a part of, as far as developing something from my act,” the comic declares. “It’s unlike anything else on TV right now and Netflix has been true to their word and actually wanted us to push [the envelope] even further. It’s just been a dream.”
Between the upcoming Netflix show, hosting his weekly “Monday Morning Podcast” and managing his own podcast network (All Things Comedy), the ever active funnyman still finds time to work on “improving as a comedian” and offers simple advice to anyone hoping to follow in his footsteps. “Be careful who you surround yourself with,” Burr warns. “There are a lot of toxic people out there [and] you gotta get rid of people like that. It took me a long time to realize that, but [since then], everyone is my life is someone I’m 100 percent with. THAT is what I’m most proud of.”
Bill Burr will appear at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. at Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information visit houstonfirsttheaters.com/Jones-Hall or call 855-432-9998. . $58-$748.