Bill Burr Sony Centre, Toronto ON, September 27
Published Sep 28, 2015These days, Bill Burr is the perennial classic comedian. He's funny, incredibly wry and he doesn't seem out to push any boundaries. In essence, he's no maverick, but goddamn it he does things by the book.
Burr's set at the Sony Centre was a wildly funny show in which he spoke at length about frustrations regarding airports and his wife, at one point brilliantly pontificating on the possibility that men and women are different. Most of his material was exceptionally run-of-the-mill. But rather than making for a middling show, the use of almost exclusively middle-of-the-road material exposed in sharp relief the gifted performer Burr's fans know him to be.
Burr's material in almost any other stand-up comic's hands would almost certainly have come off as trite and out-dated. Fourteen years after 9/11 for instance, a comic has to be pretty sure of themselves — or pretty uncreative — to think they can keep kicking new life into TSA/airline security jokes. How Burr managed to pull it again and again is remarkable. He branched predictably off into the old "men are from Mars, women are from Venus" shtick, or the "my wife thinks I'm dumb" gag, and he came up smelling like roses every time.
Burr seems to have grasped an understanding of comedy as unity. He didn't have to push boundaries. He didn't talk about things not everyone has spoken about before, because those aren't the things everyone feels. Burr wasn't terrific because he had the best jokes, or the best timing, or even the best delivery. He was terrific because he was relatable.
Even if disagreeing with his views on feminism for example — which were haphazardly delivered, the equivalent of speaking in unfinished sentences — you could relate to why he felt the way he did. Bill Burr connects with people because he doesn't try to be unique, special or important. His approach to comedy is too inclusive, direct and generic in its appeal to be ignored. His comedy is about absolutely everyone. It takes a comic of remarkable experience and talent not to make widely applicable comedy boring. They don't come much more talented, relatable or intuitive than Burr.