The cult comic rants on with his pants on. At least, we hope his pants are on.
Your new comedy special, All You People Are the Same, is out today on your website. Why did you decide to put it out directly rather than take a more traditional approach?
You know, people have been doing this for years, just not in comedy. Radiohead released stuff directly ten years ago. I guess it’s kind of inevitable because of the way math is done, ya know? The old way, there’s always someone saying "We’re still underwater on this thing!" And if they can get away with it they’ll never give you a dime.
Louis CK seems like the first comic to do this. Were you surprised how well it worked for him?
No, not at all. I would be more surprised if somebody in the middle of the pack did it, but Louis is at the top of the heap. He’s the best comic in the country and he has the funniest show on TV, which hasn’t happened since Dave Chappelle. I don’t know, I’m prejudiced because he’s one of my favorites. I think the guy is a genius.
Because he’s held in such a high regard, do you think it opened up this business model for other people?
Yeah, but I’m also not gonna get lulled into thinking, “Well, Louis sold this many doing it this way, and I’m going to do the same.” It’s like when Dane Cook was doing his thing on MySpace, all these other comics were like, “Well I’ll get on MySpace and then I’ll get 10 million fans and then I’ll sell out Madison Square Garden.” And at the end of the day it’s like, “Dude, you’re not Dane Cook.” I’m just trying to make my money back, and I definitely have a good feeling that there’s enough honest people out there that will spend five bucks on the thing.
Your (creatively named) podcast, The Bill Burr Monday Morning Podcast, has been really popular. Do you think that’s expanded your fan base?
I gotta be honest with you, I have no idea how many people listen to the podcast. There’s no way to tell, nobody knows, that’s why every podcast you talk to will be like, “Dude, I’m number one on iTunes!” And it’s like everyone’s claiming to have half a million followers or downloads a week, it’s like listening to guys talk about the size of their dicks. I really don’t understand how to gauge it. But my fans seem to be all in: if they listen to my comedy, they listen to the podcasts, and vice versa.
You’re from Boston, and I know you’re a huge sports fan, so I wanted to talk to you about the Red Sox collapse.
You know, I want to see them win, but I actually liked the meltdown on a lot of levels, because with success comes the bandwagon. And I’m not a big fan of that "Sweet Caroline" song. I think it’s absolutely horrific that they sing that song. They need to stop.
Don’t they realize Neil Diamond is from New York?
I have no idea. But that song, he’s singing about Caroline Kennedy when she was like 8 years old. It’s a creepy song! They actually used to play it at the Penn State games, and they had to stop. “Hands touching hands, touching you, touching me.” They had to get rid of it. There’s too many creepy lyrics to get through just so people can have that mindless moment of going“ba-ba-ba”.
What about the team itself?
I love the Red Sox, but I got to be honest with you, I wasn’t able to relate to them since probably about 2007 on, when we just started signing free agents to the level of the Yankees. At that point I just couldn’t see any difference. People sitting on the Green Monster, they bought all the concessions around, you can’t even walk down the street near the stadium unless you have a ticket. It became like this really big business thing. I don’t mind if they're going to stink. I definitely want to see them rebuild it back into a winner, but I’m not going to be calling up some sports talk radio show frothing at the mouth for not winning it every year.
In addition to your standup and podcast, you seem to be acting a lot more recently.
Yeah, I’ve got a movie coming up with Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock, called The Heat, where I play one of Melissa’s fucked up brothers. And I’m in Standup Guys, with Al Pacino and Christopher Walken. The guy I play is not a good guy.
What was it like working with Pacino and Walken?
I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it was the greatest experience I’ve had as a performer. They were just the coolest guys. I was so intimidated going in there that they were gonna be like, “Who’s this bum?” Or they would be distant or something, but they were really talkative and had a lot of questions about stand up, and they both just it seemed like they were having the time of their lives, like they were really enjoying making the movie, really loving the whole process. I don’t know, it’s not even something I can put into words. They say you don’t want to meet your heroes, but those two guys, you do want to meet them, because they do not disappoint. Walken has this amazing sense of humor and Pacino is like just a sweetheart of a guy.
You’re also on Breaking Bad. How did that happen?
Ya know, I don’t know how this stuff keeps happening. I’m the king of getting two lines in the coolest things ever. My imdb page is a really quick read, but I’ve done a couple of sketches on the Dave Chapelle show, and I got a couple of lines on Breaking Bad, and I got to do a couple scenes with Pacino and Walken, and that’s pretty much it! But Breaking Bad. . . ya know, I challenge someone to be a bigger fan of that show than I am. I kind of compared it to if you were a Star Wars fan and you watched all the movies, and then one day you’re sitting in a trailer putting on a storm troopers outfit and you’re gonna go out and stand next to Darth Vader.
So is acting something you want to stick with?
Yeah, I mean, this is sorta what I would like to do for my career. I don’t really have any aspirations beyond that, but if I can sell out clubs and theaters and play dirt bags in movies, and get blown up in a car or get the crap beat out of me in a movie, that’s good for me, I’m good.