Comedian Bill Burr talks fatherhood, process

Photo courtesy of Koury Angelo

Keen eyes may have recognized Atlanta’s own Tabernacle as the locale for comedian Bill Burr’s 2014 Netflix special, “I’m Sorry You Feel That Way.” After four years, the Boston-born comic is returning to A-Town on April 28 as part of his latest tour.

Having recently become a father, Burr believes that his new perspective will bring something fresh and different to his act when he takes the stage at the Fox Theatre later this month.

“This new 90 minutes I came up with has been a lot more personal,” Burr explained. “Becoming a dad made me realize a lot of shortcomings that I have. A lot of people worry about having a kid and becoming soft. But the level of fear you have about something happening to your kid can definitely feed your act. I look at robots and stuff in the future, and it’s unsettling. I don’t know if that’s because I’m right about it or because I’m just freaking out as a parent. It’s probably a little bit of both. Just a lot of stuff like that.”

Aside from his stand-up material, Burr is also well known for both his podcast, “Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast,” and his animated Netflix series “F is for Family.” His podcast began as a simple 30-second message on his MySpace page in 2007; since then, it has grown into one of the most popular podcasts in the world.

“It was back in the MySpace days,” Burr said. “The comedian Robert Kelly said, ‘Man, you should really do a podcast.’ I said, ‘What the hell is a podcast?’ You’d actually call up this service and it would record it so you could post it. It was just some way to make your MySpace page cooler. People could actually hear some audio. You could be like ‘Hey man, I am gonna be at the Funnybone and blah blah blah.’ That was the extent of it. My first one was like thirty seconds long, then it became five minutes, then seven minutes, ten minutes, a half hour, and now it’s an hour. It just kinda grew that way.”

Burr eventually began recording a second episode each week: the “Thursday Morning Just-Before-Friday Monday Morning Podcast,” which follows the same format as Monday’s episode in thirty minutes rather than an hour. He claimed that this format allows him to maintain his impressive level of content while still working in both stand-up and television.

“It’s easy,” Burr said of his process. “I tape it in real-time. I don’t have any guests so I just sit down, turn on the microphone and start and start running my yap.” His podcast currently averages between 40,000 and 70,000 listeners per episode on SoundCloud alone. Building his audience took time, but Burr posits that growing a brand comes hand in hand with delivering quality content.

“Whatever you’re doing, if you’re doing it well, people are going to find you,” Burr said. “There are two ways to make it: word of mouth because people are responding to what you’re doing, and doing some stunts and stuff. And there is nothing wrong with either one of those. People use looks; people can do crazy things. I’m not good at that at all, I’m not a good looking guy. I also never understand what people are going to respond to. I’ve never been the flavor of the month, so I don’t know how that works.”

On the TV side, Burr co-created the Netflix animated series “F is for Family,” a favorably reviewed show that is going into its third season. He both writes for the show and voices its main character. Burr also had a role in AMC’s hit drama “Breaking Bad,” where he played Patrick Kuby. Though he is established in the world of scripted television, Burr’s five stand-up specials highlight his body of work.

“The time frame on which comedians are putting out specials is insane,” Burr said. “It’s a very prolific time. It’s totally changed in the last two years. I haven’t felt that pressure. If anything, I might put them out slower, so it’s more of an event. In whatever business you’re in, you can get caught up in what other people are doing and think ‘Oh, I will do what they are doing and then I will have success.’ But the fly in the ointment is that you’re not them … ”

“You kind of have to figure out what works best for you,” Burr continued. “I remember when Dane [Cook] was killing it on MySpace, everyone was like ‘I will get on MySpace, then I can sell out Madison Square Garden.’ But people forget that they aren’t Dane Cook. When Louis [C.K.] started putting out a special every year, he kind of blew up. Everyone said, ‘Well I should do that,’ forgetting that they aren’t Louis C.K. There is no rhyme or reason to this business.”

No matter how the business operates, it would appear that Burr has found what works for him. Despite his prolific career, Burr still finds time to relax, spend time with his family and indulge his love of sports.

“At some point, I was just kind of like ‘I just want to be happy.’ I have what everybody wants. I have free time. So as long as I’m not dumb and say yes to everybody and fill it up trying to get on some Forbes list or whatever the hell everyone is supposed to be doing, I’ll be really happy.”

Burr will be at the Fox Theatre on April 28, and tickets are on sale both online and at the venue. For comedy fans looking for entertainment without leaving the house, four of Burr’s stand-up specials are currently streaming on Netflix.