Bill Burr overcomes his anxity through comedy

Bill Burr takes the stage during his Netflix comedy special, “Live at Red Rocks.” His comedy is controversial, which has only added to his notoriety and internalized anxiety about performing. / Photo courtesy of Netflix

Last week, the Technique had the opportunity to interview Bill Burr ahead of his show at State Farm Arena on Nov. 8. Burr can be recognized for his work on entertainment staples such as “Breaking Bad,” “The Mandalorian” and “Daddy’s Home.” More recently, he had his directorial debut with Netflix’s “Old Dads,” where  he starred alongside Bobby Cannavale (“The Watcher”) and Bokeem Woodbine (“Spider-Man Homecoming”).

While talking about his upcoming show and his comedic process, Burr emphasized how he loves to come back and perform in Atlanta. His wife is from Atlanta, and he did shows early on in his career at the Punchline Comedy Club in Roswell, so this city is near and dear to him. When asked about anxiety before his shows, Burr mentioned an irrational fear of his laces coming untied as he performed. He explained that he would combat this by double knotting his shoes but still was scared.  In his words, “I’d fall, and my career would be over.” 

Burr retrospected that this fear was a manifestation of his anxiety and self-esteem issues from early on in his career. Nowadays, he makes conversation with security to take his mind off the show and calm himself prior to his performances. As he has progressed through his career, Burr noted that he is much better now at “talking myself off the ledge” and getting past his anxieties.

Burr noted that each show on his tour is different. Sometimes he finishes the show and notes that “[he hasn’t] gotten through any of [his] material” because of each show’s balance in improv versus scripted comedy. After his performances, he usually ends his day in a hotel, watching a movie. Burr has had a very distinguished career in comedy and decided to venture into this field because “making people laugh is how I connected with people.” 

Burr notes that if he had not made it in comedy, he would have liked to be a history teacher. Burr thinks he would have liked to help students draw connections between world history and modern events but worries his opinions might provoke parents. Burr, known for being unapologetic about his opinions, delved into how parents getting provoked about teachers sharing their opinions made no sense to him, and he felt they were overreacting. Burr also launched into his opinion on how most sources of media are too polarized and categorized most media outlets as “not real news.” 

In light of Burr’s directorial debut, he took a moment to recount what his dream project would be. Instead of highlighting a dream franchise or independent project, Burr stated that any project where he can make the audience arrive at their own conclusion —instead of force-feeding his opinions — would entice him. Burr discussed Abel Ferrara’s film “The Addiction” as a prime example of this principle. 

When asked about any advice Burr had for Tech students, he highlighted the importance of a small circle of good friends and reassured students that it is okay to make mistakes at this stage of their lives. Burr also warned against making friends with narcissists and making sure you are not the only one maintaining a relationship with your friends.

Tickets for Bill Burr’s shows can be purchased on his website at