Bill Burr is a Boston-area comedian who came up with guys like Greg Fitzsimmons, Louis C.K., Denis Leary, and many others. The Boston Examiner recently placed him in the top-ten of all time Boston comics. I recently caught Burr’s set at The Comedy Zone in Charlotte, North Carolina, and came away more than impressed.
Circumstances caused me to arrive much sooner than usual for this show, but I’m glad I did because I got to see tremendous enthusiasm from the southern crowd. The show was scheduled to begin at 7pm, but by 6:30 the club was over half full. By the time the feature act arrived, it was literally standing room only.
Burr took the stage to such huge applause he actually had to ask the audience to calm down a bit. It was an ovation like one would generally see at the end of a show rather than the beginning. Burr’s set was what you would expect from a solid, experienced road comic. He talked about the town and region, worked the audience, tried out some new material, and got big laughs.
It was when the audience decided to insert themselves into the act that Burr showed how he was much more than just an “experienced” comedian. He pushed back, but kept it funny. There were several opportunities to just demolish the hecklers, if you can call them that, but he deftly rolled with the punches and the room loved him for it.
You would have never known that the audience was messing with his flow had he not said so outright. And they seemed to calm down once he did. His overall material was strong and he closed the set with some solid bits that killed. The drinking and driving segment was especially appropriate as he at times was forced to admonish his primary nemesis in the crowd about drinking responsibly in public.
I’m not sure how Burr would define his performance. He obviously wasn’t able to get through the set as he wanted because of circumstances beyond his control. Personally, I loved it. The material was hilarious. I enjoyed the fact that he inserted current events into the act and made fantastic local references.
But what really blew me away was the sheer professionalism. This was a man totally confident and comfortable on stage. His presence filled the air and everyone left the show with a smile on their face. It was a fun, memorable night of entertainment and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
About the Author: Darren Staley is the host of Atari-winning podcast Dylan Brody's Neighbor's Couch, based out of North Carolina or Los Angeles. He is known in comedy circles as "Who?" or "Oh, That Guy." Darren's two biggest fears are spiders and Paul Provenza.