Comic Bill Burr stops at the Palace Theatre

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Comedian and actor Bill Burr still can't believe he was on "Breaking Bad." (You'll recall his recurring character, Kuby, breaking necks and robbing trains.)

"I was a fan from the pilot," Burr said. "I always felt [on set] like I had won a radio contest or something. Like, when are they gonna figure out how this nerdy fan got here? If they'd have sold action figures, I'd have bought them."

Despite his successful turns on BB, his first high-profile gig on "Chappelle's Show" and subsequent appearances on TV and in film, acting has never come as naturally as stand-up to Burr.

"In stand-up, the whole damn thing is you. You're alone on stage, you're acknowledging the crowd, you're delivering the set-up and the punch. Acting has a different sort of timing, and you have to block out the crowd, even if it's just a film crew.

"And I'm used to doing stand-up every night. You only get to act when they let you," he joked.

The 47-year-old Burr grew up in Massachusetts, a fan of the Three Stooges, Saturday morning cartoons and the Dean Martin roasts – "anybody that made me laugh." Like many future comics, Burr cultivated his art as a coping mechanism for his family's multiple moves.

"I figured out how to make people laugh to make friends. You know, 'This guy's cool, maybe we won't beat the shit out of him.'"

But he did not believe he was destined for show business. "It never seemed possible … a million miles away," he recalled.

A co-worker at a warehouse where Burr was working in his 20s said he was going to give an open mic night a shot, and Burr figured why not him, too?"I always wonder what would have happened if I'd never met that guy."

Burr's latest project is an upcoming Netflix animated series titled "F is for Family." Set in 1973, it recalls a simpler time, when kids would "go outside, meet up, roam the neighborhood, pick up more kids, and, with their kid brains, figure out what to do – throw crabapples at cars, smoke cigarettes, look at dirty magazines."

It's an acknowledgment on Burr's part of a generational shift, in which a large part of his audience doesn't share those same cultural touchpoints.

"We don't make fun of the '70s. I mean, wide collars, AMC Pacers … We hated that stuff then, too. And things like Vietnam, the gas crisis, they're there, but they're not the story. I remember hearing from my mom why the president (Nixon) sounded so upset, and she told me he did something very wrong. For me, it was there for a minute and then I was back off roaming the neighborhood."

Burr's current stand-up tour features new material; fans won't get seconds of last year's Netflix special "I'm Sorry You Feel That Way."

"I always retire that material [from a special], and move on to whatever's currently challenging my brain."


7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21

34 W. Broad St., Downtown