JFL42 Bill Burr Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Toronto ON, September 21
Published Sep 22, 2013During his set earlier on during comedy festival JFL42, Anthony Jeselnik was riffing on who the reigning monarch of comedy is currently, acknowledging that it's Louis CK's throne. But the heir apparent, according to Jeselnik, is Bill Burr. On Saturday night, Burr breezed through town and proved his bona fides beyond a shadow of a doubt.
In an age of comic political correctness, Bill Burr plays by his own rules — he's not shy about his troubled relationships with women and mines his concept of masculinity for some brilliant comedy about how we're over-pampering children, especially boys. Burr acknowledges that he's only trying to do better than his father — as every generation does — imagining his own attention-deficient childhood and how bad his father must have had it from his own dad.
Parenthood and his own competitive spirit led to an extended chunk about adopting children to compete with his peers who are parents: getting himself a child that is more precious, or faced greater struggles, than the kale-fed softies that surround him. This climaxed in a brilliant half-conversation about how adopting a child soldier from Africa may have been a bridge too far for him.
Unafraid of seemingly any topic, Burr riffed on the legacy of various dictators — and why Hitler is considered a "first ballot hall of fame dictator" despite the fact that others, like Stalin, have better stats. "Stalin is the Jeff Beck of dictators," he concluded. "He's got the body of work but just can't find his way into the conversations."
Clearly at the top of his game, Burr riffed early on the disconnect between the Queen Elizabeth Theatre's fancy name and squalid, Eastern Bloc design ("You either need to downgrade the name or improve the conditions") and scolded himself for telling new stories instead of doing his act.
With the crowd eating out of his hand, Burr could seemingly do no wrong; at times, he had to pause (and continue playing with the mic stand) to allow wave after wave of laughter to subside long enough to move on. A well-deserved standing ovation erupted after his set, surely the last time Burr will be playing the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Louis CK should keep one hand on his crown.