Q&A: Comedian Bill Burr on why Philly doesn't care about him (or anyone, really)

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Way back in the age when people were still mailing DVDs to Netflix and Philly hadn't seen a championship team in 23 years, comedian Bill Burr came to town with Opie & Anthony's Traveling Virus tour and things did not go swimmingly.

The crowd in Camden heckled and booed—as Philly fans are wont to do—until Burr just went off, ripping the city a new one for, among other things, being racist and having too few bridges. The result is one of the most memorable sets in recent stand-up history, in some odd, counterintuitive way, helped Burr's career as a comic.

(If you haven't seen the bit, please escort all young and impressionable children from the room and check out the full, incredibly NSFW, 12-minute clip here.)

In advance of his November 9th appearances at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, I spoke to him about the Red Sox, Philly fans penchant for booing, and the ending to Breaking Bad. *Insert SPOILER warning here*

Am I catching you after the morning show stuff? I know comedians tend to hate that.

You know, they were all good except for the first one, today. The first one, they were doing their… you know… they have to do the edgy thing. Which, hey, I get because radio has been so decimated by ClearChannel, so, I don’t get mad. I just ride it out.

Congratulations on the Sox, by the way. I know you’re a big Boston fan.

I haven’t watched all year. I’m the biggest bandwagon fan there is. I started watching Game 1 of the playoffs and I hadn’t watched in a couple of years. And what kills me is that, when you start watching, within a couple of games you’re as emotionally involved in this as the day you left. I’m sorry about what’s going on with your Flyers, man.

Yeah, they’re kind of a sh**show right now.

I thought you guys had a great coach and sometimes the coach takes the fall when it’s not his fault. And I don’t think it’s good for hockey when a legendary franchise like that is bad. Like, as much as I hate the Canadiens, hockey isn’t as fun when they’re bad. ‘Cause, when they’re bad, the morale of the other team’s fans is so low that they don’t even give a sh**. Half the fun of you beating the other team is watching their fans be devastated that your team came in and kicked their ass.

I feel like I’ve been apologizing to Mets fans for all of my adult life.

Yeah, they’ve been bad forever. Seriously, it’s been, like, a decade. Going back to Willie Randolph. Seriously, since the ‘70s they’ve been bad, basically.

So, do you have like PTSD coming back here after the Camden incident? I mean, it’s been seven years. But, still...

You know, the first time I came back, I thought it was going to be an issue and I quickly found out that people in Philly boo so many people that every other city remembered it, but Philly just moved on to the next guy. They were like, “Ah, yeah, yeah, I remember that. Anyway—“ I’ve watched enough sports that I’ve seen you guys boo everybody. I saw you boo Destiny’s Child.

They were wearin’ Lakers gear.

One had on a 76ers jersey, the other had a Lakers jersey and the third was wearing some NBA logo or something. So, they were just totally neutral. They didn’t have a dog in the fight. They were just corporate whores and somebody should have gotten fired on that one. Beyoncé’s face was priceless. They immediately cut to commercial.

That might be something to hang our hat on, though. How many people have booed Beyoncé?

It made her a better person. I loved it. Just the look of shock. Like, “Do you think you’re above this?” It’s just, you have a hit song and everybody’s loving you and you go out there and get that. Like, her performance did not deserve that booing. But, Philly fans don’t give a sh**.

We genuinely don’t.

I saw you boo Ja Rule and Ashanti. I saw you guys boo Ashlee Simpson. I mean, who didn’t see that one coming? She gets busted lip syncing on SNL, but you guys would have booed her anyway. So, when you guys are booing people that big in the pop star world, you’re not going to remember booing some friggin’ comedian.

They’ve still got your T-shirt in the glass over at Helium. The one that says “Seven minutes left, mother f***ers” or whatever on it.

Oh, that thing. I made those for when I first came back and what’s funny is I didn’t sell any of ‘em because no one in Philly gives a sh**. It doesn’t mean anything to them. It was everyone else from around the country, but I was only selling them there. It was sort of my nod to acknowledge that we had a big rift the last time, but, despite that, it was actually a good thing for my career. So, whatever. I brought them and no body wanted them, but everybody else wanted to sell them.  You know, they’re actually sitting in a warehouse somewhere because I didn’t sell ‘em anywhere else. Put it this way, I don’t even have one of those things.

Okay, we can’t go any further without talking about Breaking Bad because I’m obsessed.

I was a huge fan. So, to get on the show was like getting sucked into my TV.

I’m assuming you were satisfied with the ending?

Oh, yeah. It was perfect. Even the box set is coming out in one of those barrels that Walter White put his money in. It’s like, even the packaging on the DVD is perfect. I still can’t believe I got to be a part of it.

Very infrequently does something live up to the hype like that. Each episode down the stretch seemed to hurdle a higher bar and satisfy everyone.

Yup. They never hit one of those hurdles and did a faceplant

And they wrapped it up, so people couldn’t complain like they did with Tony Soprano’s fate.

I liked the ending to The Sopranos. My interpretation of it was that this guy was going to be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life. Who is it? Is it this guy? Is it that person? Is that guy really a delivery guy? Like, that’s what it was like to be him. I think that the easy way out would have been whatever ending the fans wanted where he’d go out like Tony Montana. That’s already been done. So, I thought that it was a unique thing.

I thought that the way Breaking Bad did it was unique. Like, Walter White was ready to die. He tries to have Jesse do it and he’s like, “No. Do it yourself.” The whole thing. And, once again, the whole time they’re showin’ him with this friggin’ M-60 machine gun and they somehow did the sleight of hand and I wasn’t paying attention and he doesn’t park where they ask him to park and parks wherever he wants to. Somehow that didn’t tip me off. Every time you looked left they went right. It was just amazing.

So, your last special You People Are All the Same is available on Netflix. I watched it again this morning. Anything new we should expect from you at the Tower Theater on November 9th?

Absolutely. I’m always working on my game and, if you really watch what I do, hopefully you’ll see the improvement.

Still angry?

Um, it’s not like I walk around angry. It’s still my default emotion a lot of times, which I don’t like. It’s something I’m working on.

I didn’t mean any offense by it.

Oh, not at all. I mean, I advertise myself that way onstage for an hour every special. I paint myself as that angry guy. So, what the hell else would you expect, that I’m really into gardening?

Bill Burr is an actor and comedian from Massachusetts. You can see him in The Heat with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy and in Breaking Bad (but, you already knew that). He’ll be performing two stand-up shows at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby on November 9th. He's hilarious. You should go. Tickets are available here.