Bill Burr: Truthful Yet Touchy Comedy at the Arlington


Spencer Wu
Copy Editor

Comedian Bill Burr and friends Dean Delray and Paul Virzi came to town at Arlington Theatre on Thursday, Feb. 15. The show was initially supposed to be held on Dec. 10 of 2017 but was pushed back because of the Southern California fires.

Burr’s resume is stacked, boasting six stand-up specials, as creator and voice actor for his Netflix special, “F is For Family,” and hosting his off-the-cuff “Monday Morning Podcast,” and “Thursday Afternoon Just-Before-Friday Monday Morning Podcast.” Both Delray and Virzi have comedic pedigree of their own, hosting their own podcasts on the All Things Comedy network, an online comedy co-op that Burr founded alongside Al Madrigal.

Dean Delray started the night with crass stand-up about drug use and blind audience members sitting in the front row of comedy shows (“why do they get the best seat in the house?”). Afterwards, Virzi followed up with more anecdotal comedy on a variety of different topics, like gay waiters, serial killer documentaries, and lightsaber battles with his children, which set the stage for headliner Burr, who held an 80-minute set.

The chemistry between the three performers showed through the common thread of edgy material and slur-filled rants. They passed the mic to one another relay race style, essentially rocking the audience with almost two hours of continuous comedy.

Bringing his notorious Bostonian accent and fiery hot takes on touchy subjects, Bill Burr, in typical Bill Burr fashion, ruffled some feathers at Arlington. He criticizing the male/female dichotomy in regards to the #MeToo movement, honoring war heroes at sporting events, and the irrational fear of ISIS, among a breadth of other politically incorrect subjects.

Burr didn’t test the water but instead dove right into the deep end as he discussed gender inequality in the first five minutes of his set. Granted, this material is recycled from previous shows, but the premise is still fitting.

“Doesn’t that happen every day in court? Some woman who never did shit takes some rich guy for a bunch of money? Oh, Santa Barbara, I can feel your pain,” Burr said. “There’s a woman out there right now spending Super Bowl championship money [who] never played a down of football. Her ex-husband’s talking to a bookshelf because his brain is so fucking scrambled. That happens every goddamn day. Where’s the #MeToo about that? There is none because they’re guys. Nobody gives a fuck.”

Burr then addressed the cavalier misuse of the term “hero” at football games. He said that he has attended around 45 sporting events and every one honored a hero from the military.

“Every time they introduce somebody from the military, they always call them a ‘hero.’ I don’t want to be cynical but the math doesn’t work out that they could go 45/45. This guy is a hero? What did he do over there? We got a giant flat screen; let’s see a highlight reel. Was he on the front lines doing some Rambo shit? That’s a hero. However, if he was in the back just working on the Jeeps the whole time, sit in the upper deck with me.”

This got an audience member incensed, as someone heckled and boo’d him. Burr promptly replied, “what’s the matter, sir? Did you work on the Jeeps or did you point the directions? You go fuck yourself; I do this in front of troops, they die laughing.”

Burr continued to target the heckler and introduced the following topic as “another one that would annoy you, sir.” This subject matter happened to be the fear of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

“They’re on the other side of the planet. They don’t have a plane or a boat. They’re not even a country, they’re a group,” Burr joked. “It’s like 3,500 jerk offs [who] train on a jungle gym. How are they going to get me? Find the bar that I’m day drinking in with six million people in LA.”

Burr rounded out the show by talking about how the rise of technology will take over mankind, the evolution of the sex doll, and more “wholesome family” material, like nostalgic stories about his childhood, his wife Nia, and handling his newborn baby.

It is safe to say that Burr’s brand of comedy is neither PG nor PC. It’s not for the faint of heart, and anyone who attends his shows needs to understand that he will bring up touchy subject matter and is willing to take the heat. However, Burr’s charm is in his exaggerated metaphors, which uncover the truths of everyday life, and his following is a testament to how successful this style of comedy is when done right.