Day 14: Bill Burr

Each day this month I’m sharing some comedy sets I find hilarious and talking about why. Today’s is a 2012 Bill Burr set from the Night of Too Many Stars fundraiser. Here’s some of the reasons it continues to stick out in my mind:

• ANALOGOUS LANGUAGE. I laugh when comics are able to connect seemingly disparate ideas. (For an earlier example, see May 7’s set: Aparna Nancherla.) Burr does this without explicitly stating comparisons (“blank is like blank”); he instead threads it into his set, using terms from sports (“game, set, and match”), economics (“bubble going to burst”), and biology (“species natural predator”) so that, when we do make the connection he’s made with his language, we revel.

• SPECIFIC DESCRIPTIONS. Throughout the set, Burr chooses very specific images that heighten my laughs. He doesn’t just tell failed plumbers to commit suicide; he tells them to put wrenches in their pockets and walk into the ocean. It’s not just a big boat; it’s a boat that has a pool with fat people going in. And Steve Jobs isn’t just pretentious; he’s “eating some pretentious fruit, like a pear.” I laughed so hard at that line. It’s so specific and the vivid portrayal afterward (munching, tossing, wiping his mouth on his sleeve) got me rolling.

• THE GOLDEN CALF. When a comic takes on our idols, I’m giddy. You’re not supposed to question what we revere, but Burr’s self-deprecating jokes in the beginning of the set (saying he’s not better than clowns, acknowledging he doesn’t understand boats) have endeared him to me so that I’m open to listening by the time he gets to Steve Jobs. What follows are some hilarious scenes (in the vein of Day 12’s Chappelle set) that help him take on this golden calf. It’s particularly hard to question our adoration of powerful people in this setting - a charity show full of rich, stuffy, New York elites - but, like a jester poke fun of the king in court, it’s thrilling to watch and makes this Burr set all the more enjoyable.

Hope you liked it, and for more Bill Burr, follow on IG (@wilfredburr) and check out his numerous Netflix specials.