Fueled By Death Cast Ep. 102 - BILL BURR
"I love it. I am lucky enough to do what I love to do, so I'm constantly trying to get better at it" —Bill Burr, comedian, actor, voice actor and co-creator of "F Is For Family"
ABOUT BILL BURR:
Bill Burr joins the podcast this week to talk about the new season of "F is for Family" on Netflix. Season 3 of the original animated show premieres on Nov. 30th, and Bill talks about how the show got its start and what it's like to write and record on the show. Also, Bill remembers the time he got to play drums with Slash and Duff from Guns N' Roses and talks about the current comedy climate and his approach after 25 years in the industry. Plus, details on his European Comedy Tour in 2019 and new stuff coming from his All Things Comedy Network.
ON THIS WEEK'S COMPANION TV SHOW:
This week new images have been sent back from the Juno spacecraft, and Dustin and Jeff talk about some of the recent data from Jupiter. Plus, scientists have used data sonification to create a haunting piece of music based on a sunrise on Mars. Jeff found some terrible cheesy Christmas movies on Netflix for "The Roast" and some details about the next mug release from Death Wish Coffee.
DEATH STAR OF THE WEEK:
This week meet Krystal Sedler in the "Death Star" segment of Fueled By Death Show below:
Jeff: Let's start off with what's coming out. We got "F Is For Family," the new season, season 3 coming out actually the day after this is going to premiere on November 30th. I wanted to ask you, how did the show come to be? Did you start out like, I wanted to do an animated television show, or was that kind of idea coalesced as you were writing it? Where did the idea come from?
Bill Burr: It started off when I was a young comic. I would tell family stories on stage and everyone would laugh, and no one questioned anything. They were just considered family stories. Then when I became a middle-aged and now old comic, everything got labeled as domestic abuse, mental abuse, bullying. I don't know. Somewhere in there is gender-neutral bathrooms or something. That whole thing came out. So then people would listen to them with this new sort, I don't know what, social conscience. It's not like they would groan, it's they'd stop laughing and they just kind of went like, "Aw." They just started feeling bad for me, which is probably the worst noise you could ever hear as a comedian. [inaudible] or have some sort of, "You suck," reaction rather than just pity is really bad. I just got frustrated after a while, because then after the show, all these people would come up and say, "Hey, my parents were just like that," and they'd be young kids, and it's like, "Well, why didn't you fucking laugh? All of you sitting there like you're watching a puppy struggling to get into its bed and it can't quite make it." That was the noise they were making. So I just stopped telling them.
I don't know, I was just going, there's got to be a way to do it. One day, I was walking my dog and it just hit me. I go, well, why don't I just animate it? Make little five-minute vignettes. I'll put them up on my website and I can get these stories out. I still am a huge fan of "South Park." I knew anything that I was going to do was going to be well short of the craziness that they're doing. So why don't I do that? And because I'm a standup comedian, I never did it.
So I ended up meeting ... I was opening for Steve Byrne, who was friends with Vince Vaughn. Vince was in the crowd. He's got a production company. They took a meeting, and I was like, "I don't have any TV shows to develop." Every time I develop a show, it never gets picked up. The whole thing gets deballed, you know, because all they want is to have the big, stupid guy married to the impossibly hot chick who's smarter than him. They're just doing "Honeymooners" over and over and over and over and over again. My shit would never get picked up. Then I'll be on the bench for a year. I couldn't do anybody else's projects because I was in a deal. I just said, "You know, I don't have any ideas. If you guys ... I'm not doing any more deals. I've had enough failed TV shows. Nobody wants my ideas. If you guys have an idea and you're developing it, I can act. I'd love to be in it."
As I was walking out the door, I was talking to Peter Billingsley. I was like, "You know, I do kind of have this idea for an animated thing," and he almost yanked me back in the chair because they were looking to do it. Then they go, "Yeah, let's do it, man." I go, "They're just vignettes." He goes, "No, that's like a show." So then I just started meeting people, and that's when I got together with the great Mike Price from "The Simpsons," and it became a show. Then it became a show. Here we are all these years later. I mean, it took forever to sell the thing. I mean, I think I've been talking to those guys since 2010 or 2011. The first season didn't come out until 2015. It's just how it goes sometimes.
Dustin: Does it feel good to like get it out there, get it off your chest? Do you feel like you have a good venting point for all this humor now that you've been saving up for all those years?
Bill Burr: It wasn't like I needed to like vent about it, it was just more ... I just like making people laugh. When I got into the animated world and also telling it serialized, which means one episode leads into the next, leads into the next, the whole Netflix style, I just enjoy working with other people. I just like the whole thing. It's not really like ... It's not all my stories. Frank isn't my dad. He's just an amalgam of everybody's dad in the writer's room. It's like I'm literally animating stories from my childhood. It's the tone, it's a little vignette that happened, but like at this point, we're in the third season, so these characters, they take on a life of their own. I would actually say Sue, Frank's wife, that Laura Dern plays, is probably more like two of the other guys' moms in the room than my mom. My mom wasn't nearly as emotional as Sue is. But Frank is a lot like my dad in that if something happens, he would flip out. But you know, my dad didn't work at an airport and all these dreams of flying and all that. That's just the stuff that you just make up, you know what I mean?
Dustin: Do you ever listen back and get reminded of your father? Like, oh, that's exactly what he sounded like.
Bill Burr: There's a couple little catchphrases in there that, like I guess if somebody sets him off, "Bullshit!" That's him. "I'll put you through that fucking wall," was him. I can't really ... I don't know, it all blurs together. But you know, a lot of it is Mike's dad. There's a guy David Richardson, there's a lot of him in there. And then Emily Towers, who it kills me, we lost her. She's now writing on "Family Guy," which is another one of my favorite shows. So I thought that was pretty cool, that "Family Guy" picked up on of our writers. Let's me know we're doing something right over there, because that show is awesome. There was a lot ... she was huge in the writers' room where there was a lot of tone I felt came from her stories. She was someone that we met. It was funny, when we were picking writers, people, "Hey, talk about your childhood," and if it was nice, we were just like, "Alright, see you later." "[Yeah, this kid] used to throw me down the stairs every day and the teachers would laugh and they wouldn't do anything." It's like, "Alright—"
Jeff: You're in.
Bill Burr: "Write something. Write something and come in the room." She knocked us out with her ideas and stuff. I mean, yeah, every once in a while I'll watch something. An example I always use is the first season when Little Bill is up in the tree and the big kids are throwing shit at him. That happened to me. That happened to me and a friend of mine. We were just climbing a tree. Now the kids didn't throw fireworks. That was the animated exaggerated thing. But we were just climbing up this tree and these big kids came along. So I was up there, and they just started throwing rocks at us until they got tired. We were just up there hanging on like, ahh, crying, [twisting in the trees] and stuff.
There's actually a Dave Kushner story in there [crosstalk] buddy. Yeah, one day I was out getting lunch with Dave, and Dave told me one of those stories that just makes you cry laughing. I don't know what it was, but it was the way he told it. It was basically he had been partying back in the day when he was younger. He'd done a gig at like the Coconut Teaszer's on Sunset. He was really drunk, and after the gig he was running across Sunset, and he had his amp and his guitar. He lost his balance, and he started flying through the air. In his drunk mind, it was like, save the gear! So he just put both his arms out like that to save the guitar and the amp and literally just kissed the pavement and knocked out all of his teeth. We put that in there.
There's a time when Kevin, who wants to play music, sneaks out, and Frank is running after him. And he runs and he trips, and he does the face plant. What was funny was Kushner saw it when he ... because Dave does the music. He was watching. He goes, "Dude, is that from my story?" I was like, "I don't remember, I don't remember," because you know, you do so many rewrites you can't remember. Then I went there, and I'm like, "Yeah, that's it, that's it." And he got a huge kick out it. So that's a fun thing to do as far as putting stuff into the show where there will just be this ... I mean, that is literally probably three seconds of animation, but it's Dave's story, and Dave gets to watch that. I just wish I was there when he watched it and when he saw him do the face plant, him reliving what he did and be like, "Oh, my God, he just did a Kushner."
Jeff: That's so cool.
Bill Burr: There's a lot of elements like that. That's the fun part of the show.
Jeff: You mention Michael Price, who is incredible, like you said, on "The Simpsons," and all of your writers. You have such an incredible team of writers on the show. It sounds like you do like an old-school writing room. Is it like there where you guys are all contributing and all just like kind of reworking and reediting to make these episodes?
Bill Burr: Well, it's the only writers' room I've ever been in. So the way that we do it, yeah, it's everybody is chiming in. You know, Marc Wilmore—we got a lot of really just funny, funny, strong voices in there. It's one of those writers' room, if you don't speak up, your shit's not getting in the script. No one's going to feel bad for you. But I think a lot of writers' rooms are like that. But it's not like a toxic ... you know, I won't name the shows, but there's just shows that have reps out there where you're just like, "That doesn't sound fun." I got in this business to have fun. I know we're under the gun and there's pressure and that type of stuff, but there's no reason to just be like mean to people, you know? So we definitely ... we'll get into like heated discussions a few times, but it never. ...
Dustin: Overall, do you enjoy [crosstalk]. ...
Bill Burr: I like to think I'm not a lunatic in the room, where it's just like I'll fight for something, but I have like five minutes of fighting. "Alright, dude, I don't give a shit. It's a fucking cartoon. Put your thing. I don't care."
Jeff: On the other side of it, speaking of voices, you have an incredible cast on the show. You mentioned Laura Dern and Sam Rockwell. I mean, that after having some incredible writing, that really shines through with everybody doing that. How did the cast coalesce? Was that kind of the same kind of thing, getting the right people in place?
Bill Burr: Yeah, I swear to God, at some point, I'm going to find the comfortable place where I can sit here. That goes to probably I'd say Vince Vaughn and Peter Billingsley, where they both have a lot of clout, and they had a lot of friends with big time credits. So how that works is you just got to get that one person to sign onto it. You get that one person with the name to sign onto it. All of a sudden you now have a script with so-and-so attached. Once you have so-and-so attached, somebody who previously would have said, "No, I'm too busy" is all of a sudden, "Oh, this person's doing it? I want to work with that person. This must be good." Then that's how it works.
So I forget who ... right out of the gate, we got guys. We got Dave Koechner, and then Vince knew Justin Long and then also knew Sam Rockwell. So right out of the gate, we had that nucleus. Then I just remember all of a sudden, we were like talking to Laura Dern. I'm like, "Laura Dern? Laura Dern's not going to do this," and then she came back with a "Yes." I was like, "Oh my. ... " And it made you feel good as a writer, where you're just like, wow, man"—because she is like the king of just picking the coolest projects ever. I mean, there's a thing out here where there's certain people who are so talented and they can't pick a good project to save their life. She is that rare person that is an unbelievable performer and then her instincts to [inaudible]. That's something, you know. I've been meaning to ask her. When we get in the booth, we're always too busy on the script, but I have been meaning to ask her that, going like, "What do you ... when you're reading a script ... how do you just keep hitting these home runs?" You know what I mean? Even like the shows that maybe don't. ... She did a show on Showtime or HBO. [Mia], what was the name of that show? Do you remember?
Bill Burr: "Enlightened."
Jeff: Oh, yeah.
Bill Burr: That show never quite found an audience. That show was unbelievable. It's like even the stuff that she does that, quote on quote ... I guess that would be ... I'm not saying it failed, but it just never quite caught on. That show was unbelievable. Some of the stuff that I've had that failed, which is 90% of my [inaudible], you watch it and you know why. It's horrific.
Jeff: You mentioned being in the booth together. Do you guys record like an old-time radio show? Do you record together, or is it separate?
Bill Burr: Well, I mean, there's not like somebody in there making like the thunder and lightning sound effects. [inaudible] No, whenever we can, we try and like ... I find that a lot of the people that are more from the acting world want to be in the booth and will be looking at somebody. Sam likes that. Justin Long is such a ... when Justin does Kevin and he makes the face: I wasn't doing anything. He's so committed, and he has this look on his face. He's the guy I can't look at when I'm ... the rare times, because he lives on the East Coast, so unfortunately, I haven't been able to get in the booth this past season with him. Laura Dern likes to do it like that, Vince likes to do it like that. You know, for someone like me, I was coming in as a standup comedian. It was intimidating to get in there with these people. I was just like, alright, sink or swim or whatever, so I just committed to what I was doing. After a while you just realize, oh, they're just going to be playing off what I'm doing. It's not going to be that standup comedy thing where if you're bombing, someone's going to yell, "You suck!" The acting world is a lot more ... I guess, in that world, it's healthier.
Dustin: Did you do any voice acting before this?
Bill Burr: Not really. I mean, there was a guy ... his name escapes me.
Jeff: "Grand Theft Auto" though, right?
Bill Burr: "Grand Theft Auto," but that was one of those deals where we got hooked up because I was on the "Opie and Anthony Show." He was friends with them. So you know, I had a couple of [lines] like, "Hey, shut the fuck up." We just had a couple of lines like that. It wasn't like I was one of the main characters, I was like ...
Bill Burr: It wasn't like I was one of the main characters. I was like, I think, a biker in one of them. But I'm just a fun guy that when you wanna go on a rampage and run somebody over with a car, that was me.
Jeff: Was it weird getting used to the booth and doing voiceover acting? Was that ... that strange adapting [inaudible]?
Bill Burr: It took three episodes. And I remember episode one, we were recording and David Richardson being in the booth, who's been in the business for a long time. I saw the look on his face after my first few takes. He was mentally sending his resume out. Yeah, and that's this thing, you gotta block that out because he wasn't wrong. Because I knew it wasn't happening, but by the third episode, I had him dying laughing. So it just took me a second to get comfortable. Then I said, "Now I found it, now I found it."
So I went back to one and two and then we rerecorded. But you know, a lot of those big-time actors that we have on the show though, they do the same thing, like they go ... really ... it was really interesting to watch how they did it. Like they just sort of like, "Hey, I'm gonna try this and I'm gonna try this and I'll try this," and it's just kind of like this big, back and forth. And then it starts getting small. And then all of a sudden, they have it. And whatever, 20 minutes later, 25 minutes later they have it and then all of their talent, and it's an amazing thing to watch. But I hadn't seen it before, so the first time through watching one of these big actors do that, I was like, "What's going on? This is all over the map." And I watched it enough times, I still don't know how to do it, but I find all these really good actors, that's what they do. And they just keep saying the words and saying the words, and tweaking it and tweaking it and tweaking it, you know? And then all of a sudden, it's like, holy shit, that's a person. You know? I don't know how to do that.
Jeff: Would you ever do that of somebody else's project? Let's say like "Finding Nemo" 8 comes out and they want you to be Joey Jerk, the fish face, you know?
Bill Burr: You know what's weird about this? Is like I do voices all the time in my standup act. And I do characters and shit, but when I get in the booth, I'm just sort of me. And so I know it's there, I have to figure out how to uncover it. So what I basically have to do, what you have to do and everything to get better, is you have to bomb. So what I'm gonna have to do is just go in there and saw what I saw them do. It's just like let me just play with this, you know? Might not even sound good and people be nervous in the booth like, "What is this person doing?" Just having confidence enough in your instrument to figure out—
Dustin: It does sound a lot like recording vocal tracks, of just like you don't know how you're going to attack this line of just like where you're going to have inflections and how it's actually gonna sound when you actually try the thing that you've been trying out on stage for weeks and weeks and weeks. It could be totally different once you get there in the booth.
Bill Burr: Yeah. I guess so. Nobody is calling me up to try and sing a few tracks, believe me.
Dustin: Yeah, but they are calling you up to play drums, from what I hear.
Bill Burr: Who's calling me to play ... I mean, I've sat in with some people.
Jeff: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Bill Burr: I'm sitting in with all these people ... I got to sit in. It's just like they've already jammed with a zillion musicians. And what I found, what I didn't realize, is that musicians listen to so much comedy and watch standup specials on the road, that it's cool for a goof, for them to play "Highway To Hell" with that guy from Comedy Central, or whatever. You know what I mean?
Bill Burr: But it's definitely been fun for me, man. You know?
Jeff: Well, when we went out and talked with Dave, he was talking about how he surprised you at a show once, having you play drums and did not tell you that he was going to bring Slash and Duff from Guns N' Roses on stage until you actually were on stage with them. And we got his side of the story of that, of how he surprised you with that. But like what was going through your head, as you said, just a comedian just having a good time playing some drums, and literally Slash walks on stage. How does that even translate?
Bill Burr: Well, to give people a back story, I was going to play "Highway To Hell." Dave's always doing benefits. Him and his wife are very like ... they're just awesome people. So, it was a benefit for this school. And it was way up in the Hollywood Hills. So high up you could see the Valley and you could see Hollywood, which was incredible. So we're up there and he goes, "Come up during the day, we'll run the song." So we play "Highway To Hell." Ia straightforward type of thing, no crazy fills. Phil Rudd, right?
Bill Burr: So I sit down, we knock it out, and he goes, "Sound good?" I said, "Yeah, you know, sounds good. That's how I'm gonna play it." So that night, I show up, and the real drummer, he plays with Blue Man Group, like you know, raiding charts. Like this guy is a player in the business, right?
Bill Burr: So I'm going, "All right, I'm probably gonna go up like third, fourth song in, let's get the jerk-off comedian out of the way." And I see I'm like third to last song. So that was the first point where I was just like, "This doesn't make any sense." And then I'm watching them play like The Who, and this guy on drums is doing all the Keith Moon shit— he's crushing it. And I'm like, "Why are they having me go on after this? This doesn't make any sense. Is Dave breaking my balls here?" So finally, they play the song, finish the song before me, and I literally sneak up on the stage. And he goes, "Hey, ladies and gentleman, we have a guest gonna sit in on drums, stand-up comedian. Please welcome Bill Burr." Kind of like the golf clap, like nobody knows who I am, and whatever. Playing drums, you can hide behind the symbols and shit if I screw it up. And as he's intro-ing me, I see people are just walking off the stage. It was only the base player and another guitar player, I believe, walked off. But in my world, it was like 10 people walked off stage. I was like, "What's going on?" And he goes, "And we got another couple special guests."
So immediately I'm thinking, "Wait, what's going on here? We didn't rehearse this." Cause I'm outside my comfort zone, drums is a hobby, obviously. So, he goes, "Please welcome ... from Guns N' Roses, Duff McKagen and Slash." And I was like, "What the fuck?" And I just saw them coming up. The only way to describe them, it was like two giant Redwoods. That's what I kept thinking. It was like giants, in my mind. And I was sitting down looking up at them, Duff is tall anyways. And I think Slash is a little bit taller than I am, and they looked gigantic to me, that's all I remember.
And I had met Duff once at the comedy store, and he's just like, "Hey man, how you doing?" Shakes my hand. Slash shakes ... and you don't understand how big Guns N' Roses to me. And Steven Adler was my favorite drummer of the 80s. Everybody had those giant fucking kits with the double kicks. Half of them didn't even have another pedal behind it—it was just for the look, or they just played double base when they had to do the solo. You just ran underneath and played on top.
But these guys were the guys. I was like the first guy in my group of friends that was like, "You gotta check out this band." Like one of my big credits in my early adulthood was, "Dude, Burr was listening to these guys in '87." 'Cause it didn't come out until '88. That was an IMDB credit for me. I used to jam all the time in my parents' basement, and we used to play "Highway To Hell." And we used to play Guns N' Roses stuff. We used to play "Welcome to the Jungle," we played "My Michelle," "Mr. Brownstone." and all that. I remember one of my brothers would be standing here playing guitar and my other brother would be standing there playing base. And we'd play Guns N' Roses and we'd play "Highway To Hell."
Now, here I am, 30 years in the future playing "Highway To Hell" that I used to play with my brothers. And instead of my brother, John, there, it's Duff, and instead of Phillip, it's Slash.
Jeff: Oh, my God.
Bill Burr: And then so essentially, yeah, the entire—
Jeff: Velvet Revolver.
Bill Burr: Velvet Revolver, and I'm Matt Sorum now. So, this all goes through my head in like .8 seconds, however long it takes them to walk on stage, say hello, and then just Slash turns around and just goes, "Bah, nah, nah." Dude, I literally couldn't feel my legs. I'm like, "What?" It was nuts. And one of my brothers told me, because a long time ago when I was sitting in, he goes, "Dude, if you're ever in a situation like that, don't try to be fancy, just go Phil Rudd." And thank God the song was played by Phil Rudd, so I didn't have to worry. I just went Phil Rudd and played the song. Screwed up a couple of times.
I just remember in the end, I remember Kushner and Frankie kept turning around. They just kept looking at my face, laughing at me. So the song ends, you know, when it stops, "Highway to hell," and he's like, "And I'm going down all the way," and then they got to turn around to the drummer to start the symbol wash, and that was the time when Duff and Slash all turned around to look at me, and I was just like, "Oh, my God, they're looking." I almost forgot what I was supposed to do. And then, fortunately, I got out of it. And then I got off stage, and then they paid another two Guns N' Roses songs with the real drummer, who crushed it. And I got off. I was walking away, and Duff came up to me and he said, "Hey, man, Slash really liked your playing." And I was like, "Get the fuck out of here." You know, I figured he knew I was a ... but he had no idea who I was.
And he said, "Yeah, he liked your playing." So I was like, oh, my God, this is the greatest night ever. I got to meet him; he was cool as shit. I said, "Hey, I'm actually a standup comic," and he laughed. He goes, "You should play drums, man, you sounded good." So, I am, like at this point, floating. So then I leave the venue 'cause the show's over. I do the most un-rock and roll thing ever—I get into a Prius and drive down the hill, literally screaming.
Jeff: How do you fit your drums in a Prius, by the way?
Bill Burr: Oh, I was sitting in. It was somebody else's drum kit.
Dustin: Oh, yeah, of course. You can't put drums in a Prius.
Bill Burr: I'm screaming like some little school girl who got to see Elvis. And I went down totally to the comedy store, went out back because I was meeting my buddy, Joe Bartnik, to smoke a cigar, and I was telling them the story. And they were all just jaws on the ground. I remember when I walked in the comedy store, like, "Hey, BIll, you wanna go on stage?" I was like, "No, I don't. No, I don't, that ain't gonna top that." So I went back and I smoked a cigar, and as I told them, Dave sent me some video of it, and they were all blown away. It was like one of those nights you didn't want to end. So at two in the morning, I get in my Prius and I go to leave, and I'm like, "This is the greatest night ever."
So I'm pulling out of the comedy store and I had to stop because of traffic, and as I stop, I hear a knock on my window. And I look over—drop dead gorgeous woman. I'm like this is just the greatest night ever. I'm gonna roll down the window, she's gonna be like, "Oh, my God, I'm such a fan. I can't believe I met you tonight, blah, blah." Dude, I roll the window down, she's hammered. She sticks her head—like three-quarters of her body out the window. She just goes, "Are you Felipe, our Uber driver?" And I just laughed. I go, "No, no." Then it registered, she's looking at my, you know, Irish mix face. I'm as far from a Felipe as possible. I go, "No, I'm not." She kind of laughed and I laughed, and that was the moment I turned back into a pumpkin, and I drove home in my Prius and that was it. That's the story.
Dustin: The universe has a funny way of humbling us very quickly.
Bill Burr: Oh yeah.
Jeff: Oh, my gosh, that's so funny. Well, speaking of ... on the comic side, that you just announced your European tour coming up in the start of the year. That's really exciting. I was looking at your dates. January through May, you're gonna be all over Europe, which is really exciting. Have you done a lot of those places before, or is this all-new territory for you?
Bill Burr: Some of them, I have. Scandinavia I've done before and all the Nordic countries. And I learned that Scandinavia is part ... they're all part of the Nordic countries. But Scandinavia is Scandinavia, right? So I've been to all those, I've done Germany, I've done Cologne, Germany before. And I've done the UK part of it, I've done. But all that Estonia, Latvia, Prague, Budapest, Berlin, I'm doing a place in Austria, it's not Vienna, it's some place else. But I've never been there, but I'm like ridiculously excited to the point like I've quit drinking, I'm not smoking cigars, I'm gonna get in crazy shape. 'Cause this is, you know, going to the other side of the world. These people have never seen me. I'm gonna give them a show, hopefully, that they're gonna remember, because I wanna be able to come back someday with my wife and kid. And how cool it'd be to do a sold-out show in Austria, make a little bit of money, and then blow it in Vienna?
Dustin: Yeah, definitely. Definitely.
Bill Burr: Yeah, go down to Italy after that. I mean, I got in this business to have fun. So, you know, and I've become a big racing fan, like Formula One and Motor GP. And they have all kinds of races there, so in the future, I plan on booking ... if I have good shows and the people want to come and see me again, I plan on going back there and going to some races and taking my wife to some beautiful restaurants and letting my kid soak in everything that is over there that makes it so awesome.
Jeff: That's awesome. And I gotta ask, because we've talked to other comedians before that have toured Europe and different parts outside of America. Do you tailor comedy or maybe even your set differently for when you play outside of the states at all?
Bill Burr: I try doing that. It doesn't work.
Jeff: That's what I've heard.
Bill Burr: Then you're kind of on your heels, like, "Are they gonna get this? Okay, they got that. Now, are they gonna get this?" If I can give anybody any advice, as far as doing standup, just actually like you're here. Actually like you're here, talk how you talk, use your slang, use local references. I don't give a shit. Because when they don't get it, just—
Bill Burr: References. I don't give a shit because when they don't get it, just make fun of the fact that they don't get it. Say, "I'm an idiot. I thought you'd get it," you know? "I'm an American. It all revolves around me." There's very easy ways to get out of it, but then you're comfortable. But it is weird, though, because I will tell you. Laughs sound different over there. Different accent, you know? Different sounds, like in an audio way. I'm sure when you listen to a live album of a rock band, you can tell when they're not in America. The crowd sounds differently because there's different. ... Like those AC/DC ones, like "If You Want Blood." You can tell that's somewhere in Europe. I believe that was in ... I actually looked that place up. That was in Glasgow, which he actually says in "The Jack": "Any virgins in Glasgow." I think he does.
But anyways, that's one of those things where it takes a minute once you're over there to just get into overseas mode. And like [inaudible]. I saw Guns N' Roses for the first time ever live, actually just saw them when I happened to be in France when they were there and I took my wife to go see them, and I noticed that about them. Axl wasn't trying to say all this French shit. He was just talking to them, and he was being Axl. They were being Guns N' Roses, and it was amazing.
Jeff: That's a real smart way to go about. I mean, comedy, music, anything. I'm just always curious from a comedian standpoint, especially touring the world, and you're constantly working on material. One of the questions I wanted to ask you was how much do you edit when you're on the road? Your last special, which was incredible, by the way, on Netflix—
Bill Burr: Well, thank you.
Jeff: One of my favorite bits is at the end there with the gorilla, and you say in the special how, before you tape that special, you always were killing the gorilla and it was bombing, and then you changed that bit. How long? Where does that hit you where you're like, "Okay, I gotta change a bit," instead of just plowing ahead and being like, "If you don't get it," you're going to make fun of them for not getting it, kind of thing?
Bill Burr: Yeah, you know what sucks about that was I did a gig at Madison Square Garden in 2015 and I did the bit, and I was recording it to do a double album, and then the audio got screwed up. They didn't understand I wanted to make an album. They took the audio right out of the board, so it's me sounding like I'm in front of 15,000 people freaking out, being excited, and it sounds like there's eight people there. But what kills me is that night, the gorilla dies in the joke, so if someone was a huge fan of mine, they could watch the special and buy the album and they would have seen how it changes, and that's the type of stuff. I'm a huge music fan, and I can't get enough behind the scenes of how the whole thing comes together.
So I just got sick of ... the crowd won after a while. It's like, "All right, you want the fucking thing to live? It lives," and I figured out a way where there could still be a little bit dark or whatever, but the funny thing about that special is my pants because my wife was eight [inaudible] tailored, and I didn't really notice. They're for a guy who's like 6'5", but because I'm wearing the cowboy boots and shit, it kind of looks like that's the look, but the reality is my wife was getting ready to give birth to our daughter, so she didn't have time to look at what I was going to wear when I went onstage.
Jeff: It just adds the ambience.
Bill Burr: Yeah, yeah.
Speaker 3: I won't be able to not see that now. I can't even hear the jokes. I'm just staring at his pants.
Bill Burr: Well, hopefully the thing isn't shot at my pants, you know what I mean? [crosstalk].
Speaker 3: There should be a special features—just your pants.
Jeff: So this gets us to the question we ask every guest on our show. Through everything that you do, through "F is for Family," through touring the world, through constantly doing these incredible comedy specials and albums, what fuels you to keep doing it? You've been working hard.
Bill Burr: My mortgage.
Jeff: You're buying. ... That's it?
Bill Burr: This is the thing. You think you're going to make all this money and you're going to get off the wheel. They won't let you get off the wheel. They'll let you do it if you want to go buy a pickup truck and put the camper on the back. They'll let you do that, and then they're just going to take everything you make. So it's like. ... Nah, I'm kidding. Because I love it. I don't have to get motivated to do it. I love it. I am lucky enough to do what I love to do, so I'm constantly trying to get better at it and just trying to see ... one of my motivations is how far up the all-time ladder I can get, knowing that the top 25, 30 are solidified, despite anybody's lists out there. The top 30 are the people that basically invented the art form, you know what I mean?
Jeff: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Bill Burr: And a lot of them get overlooked, and it's always so stupid when they make these dumb lists. They'll stick somebody so goddamned high up the list from this era, and they've got like three specials. It's like, really?
Bill Burr: Like, your three specials are better than this person who changed the game? Their entire body of work couldn't hold up to your three specials? Get the fuck out of here. So that's why I don't. There's the list—and then there's the real list, so I'm trying to go up the real list.
Speaker 3: Do you have any motivations to quote "change the game"? Do you have any, I don't know, I guess—?
Bill Burr: I lack that talent. I am a ham and egger. I am just pass the baton, and I'm going to do what you've already seen done in my own way hopefully, but I am not like an Andy Kaufman, or I don't have ... I just want to entertain a crowd. I don't want to freak them out. I don't want to blow their minds like, what the fuck is this? I just like, you know? The bottom line is all these different genres of music. The bottom line is if somebody picks up a guitar and they have a great tone, and they are really emotionally connected to the instrument, and they can speak through it, and they have something to say, that's always going to be entertaining, but I'll leave the changing the game thing to somebody who can see around the corners because I don't have that ability.
Jeff: Well, you've been working hard throughout your entire career, and you came up—
Bill Burr: "You've been trying Bill, and we appreciate the effort."
Jeff: No, I mean you came up in the '90s when stand-up was a different beast than it is today, and you touched on it a little bit earlier. Do you have any advice for aspiring comedians that are trying to break into the business?
Bill Burr: Yes, before all of this chatter on social media and all of this "I might get in trouble" and all of that—you don't have to explain yourself as a comedian if you're joking around. You're telling jokes, and I actually think that this is the time to push further rather than pull back because you're going to allow a bunch of people who aren't funny—sorry, I smoked a cigar last night, voice cracking. You're going to allow a bunch of people who aren't funny to dictate the direction stand-up comedy should go in. That's no different than somebody who's tone deaf telling people what chords they should use, what type.
It's absolutely asinine, but the people who are complaining understand the game, and the game is always money. They always go after the money, and that's incorporations will not allow one nickel to roll out the door, which is why when you watch the NFL, they understood what Colin Kaepernick was doing and they respected it, until the racist part of their fan base said that they weren't going to buy tickets or jerseys, and then all of a sudden nobody could do it anymore. And it's just, you know, you have to plow through that. And as a comedian, you are an independent contractor, and a lot of these people that are social justice warriors are also incredibly close-minded—and they're bullies, and you can't allow them. They can say whatever they want to say about your act, and they're welcome to not like it. They're welcome to come to my show and heckle me. I don't give a shit, but I'm not going to change what I'm saying because I know the intent. That's the thing. People will start telling you what you meant, and you're like, "No, that's not what I meant." It's like, "No, you did mean it that way."
Same thing happened to Kaepernick. Kaepernick was protesting police brutality, and all of a sudden people are talking about Afghanistan and Iraq. It's like, that's not what he's talking about, and people hijacked his argument and that vice president went there deliberately to walk out. You could hear his jet plane running in the background. He knew exactly what he was going to do. Acted like he was surprised and then walked out. Get the fuck out of here.
Fuck all of those people, man. Fuck all of them. They're all just—they've got their face in a pig trough of money, and they're all acting like they're making these statements, and they're not. They're all serving the same thing that we all are, and I don't think everybody in the corporate world is evil. I think that a lot of people that work for corporations wish they operated differently, and I don't have a solution on how to try to fix the mindset of those companies. But they are doing way more harm than good, and that is a long-form way of saying that I'm going to continue to do my shit and dick jokes the way I want to.
Jeff: Good, and I agree with you that I think that comedy as whole, it toes that line of way too PC culture now, and I am so happy that there are people like you that are working in the industry who aren't going to take that shit and are going to keep pushing through that and are going to keep telling the jokes that need to be told and say the things that you want to fucking say.
Bill Burr: Well, [inaudible] your redheaded male, so I'm not falling from some, you know. ... Me fucking up my career would be just me rolling off a curb, you know what I mean? I might hurt my elbow, but I'll be fine. It's not like I'm some, you know. ... And I understand performers who are way further than I am who have movie careers and all of this shit where they're like, "I don't need that headache," but the weird thing is people are ... everybody's waiting for it to die down. And it's like, shit— like this doesn't die down. Shit—like this has to be confronted in a respectful way, you know?
Bill Burr: You don't have to call people assholes or anything like that, but my respectful way of doing it is not adjusting my act.
Jeff: And that's awesome.
Speaker 3: Do you think you expect it to get worse, or do you think it will start to turn around soon?
Bill Burr: Who knows? Who knows? I don't think. ... Look, everything that's changing, it's not all for the worst, you know what I mean?
Speaker 3: Sure.
Bill Burr: It's not like every social issue is bullshit, and there are people they hang PC on everything, and it's just like, no, police brutality is a thing. I think we're going to sort through it, and we're going to get to a point where people can listen to a comedian again and say, "Listen, this is just a comedian. This is not somebody presenting legislation that's going to affect somebody's life. It's just a stupid comedy show," and I don't think everything is bad about it. But it's definitely a lot of shit that was suppressed and then the cork flew off the bottle, and I think when the stuff comes down and settles a little bit, I believe in people, man. I think we're going to come to a point where people can go to a comedy show, and people are not going to act like Hitler didn't really die and he's getting his friends together again, you know?
Speaker 3: Yeah.
Jeff: Yeah, for sure. Well, at the end here, I can't thank you enough for talking with us. We talked about how "F is for Family," season three, is coming out November 30th on Netflix. Your European tour kicks off in January. Is there anything else that's coming up that you'd like to plug?
Bill Burr: Oh, "Front Runner." Yeah, I'm in a movie called "The Front Runner" with Hugh Jackman and directed by Jason Reitman, and it's the Gary Hart story, and it's one of the best films I've ever gotten to be a part of, and the way Jason shot it, and, of course I'm spacing on every other fricking actor's name in it. Everybody was amazing, and I'm just happy to be a small part of it, but that's in theaters right now if you'd like to go check it out.
Jeff: Excellent, excellent. Oh, and I actually did think of something. I heard you talk about it recently on one of your recent podcasts. You are doing the Patrice O'Neal benefit, right? Coming up.
Bill Burr: Yes, February 19th, 2019. 2-19-19, and we got—
Jeff: So many big names on there.
Bill Burr: [inaudible]. We got [inaudible]. We got Big Jay, Michelle Wolf, Rich Vos hosted, as always. I'll be there, if anybody cares. Cipha Sounds. Chris Redd. I'm trying to remember everybody's name. We got a lot of people. It's going to be awesome.
Jeff: Yeah, I'll put up all the info in our show about that as well. Finally, what is the best way for our listeners and fans to become fans of yours and follow you? Do you social media at all? Is it your website would be the best way?
Bill Burr: Best way to become a fan of mine, stop reading. Dumb it down. Dumb it the fuck down, and [inaudible] makes sense. And they got the internet. Just Google my name. I got a podcast, Monday-morning podcast. I do stand-up dates. I got "F is for Family." I have my little store in the giant mall out here, you know? Stop by. Buy some candles or whatever. [inaudible] Comedy Network, podcast network. We just produced a special with Paul Virzi that absolutely crushed it and is doing great, and we got some more coming up. We're doing one with Jessica Curzon, and we're doing one with Ian Edwards. Yeah, and [inaudible] Comedy Central.
Jeff: Awesome, awesome.
Speaker 3: Hey man, we can't thank you enough for taking the time to talk with us, and thank Dave for hooking us up and [crosstalk].
Bill Burr: Oh, was I above this? I'm trying to learn how to say no to shit. I didn't know that. I thought this was ... Now you guys are being all humble. [inaudible] man. Anytime, anytime. Thanks so much for having me. Any friend of Dave [Kirchner's] a friend of mine.
Speaker 3: Great, man.