You may have seen Bill Burr on shows such as "Breaking Bad, (playing Patrick Kuby in three episodes); "F is for Family" with Laura Dern; "King of Staten Island" (2020), playing Ray Bishop, with Pete Davidson and Marisa Tomei; "Daddy's Home" (2015) with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg or listened to Burr's fairly outrageous podcast, "Monday Morning Podcast," which he has hosted since 2007. He also co-founded the All Things Comedy network, a digital media studio base for comedians.
You will certainly see him should you attend his one-night show Sept. 30 at Indiana University's Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
Burr said, in a phone interview, jokes get misinterpreted. "But comedians do care about the things they're joking about. It's gallows humor. They wouldn't be talking about it if they didn't find it significant." Every minute in a comedian's act is precious, not to be wasted on stuff they don't care about.
"I cannot believe I'm performing in Bloomington's Assembly Hall. It's a holy place to me. I was there when Bobby Knight was there, that year Michigan won the whole thing. I can still see Bobby in that red sweater," Burr said.
And if you go, try not to get offended at Burr's anything-goes approach, although he admits New York and Los Angeles tend to be less offendable than other parts of the world.
"We comedians are soft targets. It takes no courage to go after us." Sometimes, though, he'll look back at part of a gig and think, "I wish I'd said that in a different way."
As an enthusiastic fan of "Breaking Bad," Burr was breaking a sweat to get a chance to work with Vince Gilligan, creator, director, head writer and executive producer of AMC's "Breaking Bad" and its prequel "Better Call Saul." Burr credits Gilligan for giving him that opportunity.
"I needed someone like Vince."
On the set for "King of Staten Island" (screenplay by Judd Apatow, Pete Davidson, and Dave Sirus), Burr said he felt as though he were back in high school, hanging with his buds (although he stressed the amount of hard work required).
"Pete Davidson is wise beyond his years."
Anyone in show business knows that what a performer looks like matters.
"I was a red-headed male." He feels casting directors saw him as a "Richie Cunningham" and thought, "You're not cool. You're not getting the girl.
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"So you roll with the punches," he said. "And keep yourself in the best possible shape. But ... oh, plastic surgery, no!"
Stand-up comedy is maybe one of the careers most vulnerable to public opinion. He tries to stay away from becoming bitter, "to hang on tight and have tough skin," especially when he hears the "wrong kind of laugh" at a joke. The problem comes, he said, when an audience member who dislikes a particular joke "wants to end my career."
Burr, however, continues to make it big, juggling stage, screen, studio and home. He closed the interview with this:
"I gotta hang up now. My daughter just came downstairs, and I have to make her breakfast."
Bill Burr at Indiana University's Assembly Hall
WHAT: Bill Burr
WHERE: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, 1001 E. 17th St.
WHEN: 8 p.m. Sept. 30
TICKETS: Starting at $47 at https://bit.ly/3Si4dh6
This article originally appeared on The Herald-Times: Comedian Bill Burr at IU Assembly Hall in Bloomington