Bill Burr Uses Flaws, Screw-ups, and Bowfishing to Fuel His Comedy

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So what's something new that you've tried recently? I got a motorcycle license. I went bowfishing in the bayous in New Orleans. I watched Ken Burns' The War, like a 14-hour documentary on World War II. And all that stuff sort of smashes together with your own personality and your flaws and your feelings and fears and all of that. And then there's just what goes on in the everyday news and [when] you watch sports. And I guess I meet a lot of people when I'm on the road. And all of that is just a big gumbo.

But the thing is, for me anyway, I can't just sit down and go,"I'm gonna write jokes. Now it's time to be funny. Aaand let's go."

Something has to inspire me, and that's one of the things that is difficult about the business part of showbiz, if you get a gig where you have to write and everything.

Like one of the hardest things I ever did was writing for the ESPYs and it was different form my usual process which is basically like something strikes me as funny, like I'm not even looking for it and all of a sudden I just see something or think something and I'm like, "Oh wow I'm going to talk about that."

But this was like, "All right here's this topic. We need 10 jokes on this. Think of funny stuff. And begin."

And it was a great exercise and I already had respect for comedy writers, but now I have even more having done it basically that one time I did it.

Who are some of your favorite comics right now? Chelsea Peretti is one of my favorites. She's on that new show Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Sean Patton. Joe DeRosa, Paul Virzi, Jason Lawhead. A lot of guys that open for me. Joe Bartnick.

And Fortune Feimster. She's a beast. If she just did stand-up rather than getting all this acting work and guest hosting -- you know she's very successful -- if she just did stand up... I'm such a huge fan of stand up that I get possessive, that I'm like, "I just want to see you doing stand-up. Just keep telling those stories."

I just think with the art of stand-up comedy, you get to see a person so much more than if they're doing a monologue or writing for other people or something. You know a talent like her doesn't come around that often.

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Katie Johnson
Contact: Katie Johnson