Bill Burr | Gig review by Steve Bennett at The Forum, London

Bill Burr

Gig review by Steve Bennett at The Forum, London

You can see what the producers of Breaking Bad saw in Bill Burr when they cast him as minor mobster Patrick Kuby. The Bostonian has the air of a dependable, no-nonsense, blue-collar kind of guy but with a stubborn side he can show, rather savagely, if someone displeases him.

For example, the guy on his aircraft who whimpered very vocally when they hit turbulence, is mercilessly mocked for not being man enough to keep his emotions in check. Not like the terminally ill man who decided to end his life in bold, and spectacular way, a news story Burr gleefully retells during his brief sojourn to the UK this weekend.

The 45-year-old is pretty blinkered when it comes to male and female roles, and has uncompromising views about how he won’t back down in a marital row – as well as how he would deal with his fictional adopted children, who he’s already selected as if picking a football team.

He is, he admits, ‘kinda a control freak’ and if he sounds like a bit of a jerk,that’s not an unreasonable conclusion. But it’s all relatively minor, and he knows his flaws: even when he’s being a chauvinist asshole in the argument with his wife, who he married just six weeks ago, the joke is on how unreasonable he’s being. Or it is if that’s how you choose to take it – doubtless some blokes will be admiring the way he resolutely sticks to his guns.

He likes a bit of defiance, and one great story sees him getting giddy with excitement when he inexplicably decides to ignore a traffic cop, and we can all share in his sense of transgressive mischief.

But he’s not all self-centred: he watches romcoms for his wife’s sake – and to get some solid material about the inauthentic sex scenes – and in return she watches pre-match build-ups, with Burr acknowledging how preposterous those are, too.

Such sporting obsession is part of being a man’s man as he portrays himself. He even watched an Arsenal game while in London, but didn’t pretend to understand it.

’I don’t read, OK?’ he comments, almost as a boast. His approach is that of a great drinking buddy, knowing how to spin a yarn, embellishing everyday stories with punchy delivery and bags of attitude. Even something relatively straightforward, such as mocking Most Haunted-style ghosthunting TV shows, is done with élan… and given an extra edge tonight as his bottle of water tips over, as if by an unseen hand, and the perfect moment.

Burr is especially skilled at acting out one-sided conversations, including having a posthumous argument with Jesus that heaven isn’t all he was hoping it would be, or crouching down for a tete-a-tete with one of those non-existent kids, his reaction to their unspoken replies perfectly judged.

But the best routine sees him at his most hapless: standing, far out of his comfort zone in a pigsty as one of the animals pulls of a marvellously theatrical defecation. Trust a comedian to see the art in an extravagant outpouring of shit…

Review date: 9 Dec 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: The Forum

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