Before he made it big on radio and late-night TV, Bill Burr was just like you: biding his time with mind-numbing jobs, trying to figure out what was next. For Burr, salvation came by way of comedy, and today his stand-up specials and Monday Morning Podcast draw fans from around the globe. This Thursday, Burr heads to the Chumash Casino to unleash his hilarious social commentary on the South Coast. Below, we chat with Burr about drum lessons, funny friends, and coming up in comedy.
What’s new? How’s the drumming going? You know what, I’m out on the road, and I’m tryin’ to do this online teacher with Mike Johnston; he does this “10 Days to Faster Hands” program. I’ve been trying to stay with that, get my chops together. But, whatever, it’s a hobby; it’s fun.
You got anything that’s pissing you off this week that you’d like to get out there? No, man; I’m having a good time. I’m actually doing a tour right now through the South. We were in Charleston, South Carolina, last night, and we have two shows tonight in Atlanta. And all the shows have been great so far. I’m actually in a great mood. [Laughs.] People who watch my act and listen to me on my podcast, they think I literally walk around mad and pissed off all the time. I don’t. I just use my act to vent about certain things, but I’m not venting 24/7, ya know?
What were you doing before you got into comedy? I was working in warehouses. I tried out a couple of sales jobs. I was in those trucks shipping out computer software, office products, and stuff like that. Great jobs. I highly recommend it if you’re trying to figure out what you want to do with your life. … I never wanted to have a job where I had to sit down at a desk because that’s where you’re supposed to be, then if you’re not there, they know you’re not working, and then they’re up your ass. It’s annoying.
What was it like the first time you got onstage and looked out at the crowd? Sort of like an out-of-body experience. I do remember, my first set, reaching out and grabbing the microphone like I was watching myself. I just remember going up there and trying to remember what I wanted to talk about and completely forgetting everything and then just sort of meandering around rambling, talking. I kinda started in the middle of what I wanted to joke about and then went back to the beginning and then went to the end. It was kind of a mess, but I was able to get enough laughs that it encouraged me to come back and do it again for some insane reason.
So you didn’t have too many bombs at the beginning? Oh absolutely I did. I went on tour with these other guys, and someone asked me, “Hey, Bill, has anybody ever thrown anything at you onstage?” And I said, “Yeah!” I gave him a list: donuts, dinner rolls, ice, dental floss. Yeah, man, I’ve had all kinds of shit thrown at me, people wanting to fight me after the show. Believe me, I took my poundings.
Who are some of the underrated comics right now? I like Chelsea Peretti, Sean Patton, Joe DeRosa, Paul Virzi, Joe Rogan, Doug Stanhope. There’s a ton of guys that I like.
Anything you want to say about the Chumash Casino show? No, I don’t think there is anything I want to say. But if you saw my latest special, I have written a whole hour of new material, and I won’t be repeating any jokes. One of the questions I get asked a lot is, “Are you going to be doing the same jokes that I saw on TV?” And, you know, I never do that. That’s the kiss of death.
Bill Burr performs at the Chumash Casino Resort (3400 E. Hwy. 246, Santa Ynez) on Thursday, May 2, at 8 p.m. Call (800) 248-6274 or visit chumashcasino.com for tickets and info.