Bill Burr’s success lies in his ability to be a common man while not actually being one at all. Burr has had roles in Breaking Bad and Chappelle’s Show, two of the most influential television programs of their time. He has sold out clubs and other venues for years upon years. His Netflix catalog is unrivaled.
Burr has all this to his credit, not to mention fame and riches. And, yet, as he displayed one more time Thursday night before what appeared to be a sold out show at Revention Music Center, his inherent appeal lies in being one of us.
Burr is a comedian in the age of Trump, and he’s also recently become (at 50) a first-time parent. Burr could do half a set on Trump, the other half on being a relatively old first-time dad, put asses in the seats, keep said asses happy and watch the money pile up in the process. But that would be easy, and Burr is too good a comedian to do things the easy way.
After all, why offer up easy jokes when you can straddle the line between humor and poor taste? Why take the easy way out when you can make a person cringe and laugh within a matter of seconds?
Such is life as a Bill Burr fan.
Burr is a success story as fame goes. He wasn’t born into wealth or privilege. He doesn’t have Brad Pitt’s looks or Tom Hanks’ “America’s Dad” charm. Hell, he didn’t even find real fame until his 40s. This is a man who has played before half-empty rooms and come out on the other end; for my money, the best stand-up in the game today.
Burr doesn’t pull punches, and while I won’t give too much away for those attending tonight’s show at Revention, his set didn’t exactly err on the side of political correctness. Hurricane Harvey. The #MeToo movement and the notion that perhaps it’s gone a bit too far. The true heroes in the military. The fact that the Rockets only won their two championships because Michael Jordan took some time off. No topic was off limits before a riotous (and sometimes obnoxious, unfortunately) crowd at Revention.
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The biggest vitriol, perhaps, was saved for local preacher man Joel Osteen, who routinely fills up the former home of the aforementioned Rockets. Burr absolutely roasted Osteen for his overall message, along with the fact that he didn’t open up his Lakewood Church’s doors during Harvey. And, yet, Burr does so in a way that those in the crowd who might find themselves partial to Osteen don’t take too much offense. Same for Rockets fans who are a little sore the team never got full credit from many in the national media for their back-to-back titles in the mid-'90s.
There is a simple reason for this. Burr, unlike many comedians, is accessible. Jerry Seinfeld was always a little bit above the fray. Dave Chappelle is almost jaded at this point. Louis C.K. kinda had it going until, well, ya know. Bill Maher is bright and witty but can safely be labeled as smug. Point being, Burr’s appeal lies in his everyman quality. You don't take anything personally.
And for 75 minutes on Thursday night, he showed that not only can an everyman succeed, but rise to the absolute top of their chosen profession’s ranks.
So, How Was the Opener?: Special props to opener Nate Craig. The opening slot for a comedian the likes of Bill Burr is a tough draw, in some ways. On one hand, you’re opening for Bill Burr. On the other, the crowd wants to see Bill Burr. Craig, with a Wisconsin accent in full effect, covered a smattering of topics – from cocaine to politics – during his brief opening set. Looking forward to seeing him again, perhaps a spot at the Improv at some point.