When Bill Burr takes the stage at the Long Beach Terrace Theater on Saturday, he’ll be fulfilling a lifelong dream.
Burr will perform stand-up comedy in the exact same spot his comedic idol, Richard Pryor, recorded Burr’s favorite special, “Richard Pryor: Live in Concert,” in 1979.
The Boston native has had his fair share of dreams come true. He got to play drums when former Guns n’ Roses members Slash and Duff McKagan reunited. Burr, also an actor, got to be on five episodes of his favorite show, portraying Kuby in seasons four and five of “Breaking Bad.”
On Saturday, he’ll get to scratch one more thing off his bucket list.
To get a grasp on the type of person Burr is, his publicist sent out a short biography that contained the following excerpt.
“Bill is against organized religion and believes we should go back to the gold standard for our currency,” the press release said. “None of his opinions are based on any sort of reliable information. He tends to go with his first thought, because reading makes him sleepy.”
The 47-year-old comedian spoke with the Daily 49er about his admiration of Richard Pryor, his controversial material and feminism.
[sidebar title=”Bill Burr Live” align=”left” background=”on” border=”all” shadow=”on”]
Terrace Theater – Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center
Saturday, March 26 at 8 p.m.
Tickets available at Ticketmaster for $39.50
What is it about that Richard Pryor special that has you extra excited about this show?
That special is so live I can’t even explain it. Just how he comes out while people are being seated, there’s something about that special that feels voyeuristic. It doesn’t come off like you’re watching a special, it’s like you’re watching security footage of this gig. He just walks out on stage, he’s messing with the crowd, there are people walking up to him, crazy stuff going on. And you just watch him, not only did that not affect him, it takes the show to another level and he just gets into this zone and maintains it for an hour and 20 minutes. He’s just in a zone and absolutely destroys… Even the stuff when he makes fun of white people, the way he did it he got you laughing at yourself. It wasn’t malicious, but he would still be making these brutal points about what the world was like for him because of guys like me.
Is Richard Pryor your favorite comedian?
He’s the greatest whoever did it, is all I can say. Like, I never met him, but when he died I felt like a friend died. [I felt] the exact same level of sadness that if someone I knew died. I never met him, but that’s how good he was. It just can’t be stated enough he’s the greatest who ever did it and I really don’t think there’s anybody close. I think every art form has that person that’s so good they’re untouchable. You can’t pass that guy, he’s Richard Pryor. The fact that I’m going to be performing, not only on a place where he stood, but the same stage that the greatest special of all time, as far as I’m concerned, was recorded; that’s just a major buck.
Are you nervous about this show?
I’m not nervous in a bad way. I’m excited; that’s probably a better word. The only thing I’m nervous about is if I walk in there and they’ve redone [the theater], and it doesn’t look anything like when [Richard Pryor] was in there and it feels like I’m just doing another theater. That would be a letdown, but I don’t think that will happen.
Do you still do college shows?
Yeah, I do colleges, sure.
The reason I ask is because we are a college newspaper and comedians have said before they avoid college gigs because today’s students aren’t as tolerant of controversial, edgy comedy, much like yours is.
That’s all blown out of proportion. A couple of [comedians] said it and then it became, ‘comedians aren’t doing colleges anymore.’ There are a bunch of comedians that do colleges every night and they do so called ‘edgy jokes’ and nothing bad happens. It’s just when somebody does complain they act like the sky is falling.
So you want college students at your show?
I like talking to young people. I like hearing what they’re thinking and I like telling them what I’ve learned. And I like to give them something positive. There’s just so much negative sh*t going on. This is going to happen and that’s going to happen and how are you going to pay off student loans? And it’s like, you’re going to be fine. The amount of opportunity there is right now… you just come up with an app!
You’re prone to controversy. After all, you go after women on your podcast and on stage, especially feminists. Why is that?
[I go after them] because [feminists] are completely unchecked. Whatever they say about men is just taken as law. I’m not saying they don’t have points, but just nobody is questioning them. It’s stupid, like the whole wage gap thing. They don’t take into consideration how much women cost men. Like if you get married, it’s just standard now that you have to blow three months of your salary on them. You take them out on Valentine’s Day and who has to pay? For the most part the guy has to pay. Say they fix [the wage gap], do I still have to blow three months of my yearly salary and take you out to dinner? That isn’t fair either. Look, I’m speaking in generalities and I’m just having fun with it and I have to tell you, the amount of women that come out [to my shows] and laugh and have a good time is off the charts versus the ones who get offended.
Your animated Netflix show, “F is for Family,” is semi-autobiographical. In the show, you poke fun at how people treated women in the 1970s. Is the way you were raised the reason you focus so much on the gender gap?
No, it didn’t come from that. It just [came from me pointing stuff out]. But like, I don’t think I say anything that crazy. I think the craziest sh*t I talk about is the Illuminati stuff. Talking about people with goat heads thinking about how to thin out the population. I think that’s way more intense than talking about how my wife buys too much sh*t on Amazon. If you really look at those two subjects I think [the Illuminati] would be much crazier. But, yet again, the Illuminati is not a mainstream topic. But if you do the men [versus] women thing then it becomes like, ‘Is he saying this?! What did he mean by that?!’ It’s so f*cking stupid.