GMP Humor Editor Omar Shaukat thinks Bill Burr is the greatest working stand-up comic today
If you were to ask anybody who is the best stand-up comic working today, I would venture to guess that 90-95% of those people would say Louis CK. While that’s a fine answer, I don’t think that’s the right answer. Louis CK is a master craftsman and a great writer. His hit television show, Louie, is one of the only shows I follow on a week-to-week basis. But if we were to judge based on stand-up comedy alone, I would double down on Bill Burr as the best in the business right now.
Granted, extensively debating between the talents of Bill Burr versus Louis CK is a waste of time — If we were to make a stand-up comedy pantheon, I think they would be side by side. I just needed something gripping to get your attention. Now that I (hopefully) have it, I want to explain why Bill Burr is my favorite working comic. First, here’s a sampling of his recent work
Bill Burr makes this look way too easy. I was listening to an episode of Pete Holmes’ You Made it Weird Podcast, and the guest and host were discussing how at a certain point in your comedy career everything clicks. You become like Neo in The Matrix. You know, that one scene where his surroundings break down into endless strings of code. That’s what it must be like for Burr at this point in his career. He has the skill to take any topic and filter it through his twisted perspective.
Burr’s perspective is one of a 40-year-old unmarried male. He loves being a man: Sports and relationships often dominate his subject matter. But Burr never shies away from being himself. He knows who he is — a bitter, misanthropic, cynical, and often spiteful man. He’s never afraid to push the envelope and often goes to places where other stand-ups don’t.
For example, take a bit from his most recent stand-up special You People are All The Same (Streaming now on Netflix and available for a $5 purchase here). Nearing the end of the special, Burr fearlessly tackles the issue of domestic abuse from a male’s perspective. The bit starts off as rough as you’d imagine. The crowd pulls back, and Burr is standing all alone with his twisted thoughts. But by acknowledging how the crowd is reacting and pointing out certain double standards in his personal life, Burr slowly wins them back. Explaining this segment does not do Burr’s work any justice, and you must see this special for yourself.
What Burr is able to do time and time again is dig his own grave, and then slowly but surely climb his way back out of it. Burr is the Houdini of comedy. Over the years, it’s been a pleasure to see Burr dig deeper and deeper. And that’s the mark of a brilliant stand-up comic — Someone who is able to take the crowd to an uncomfortable place and string them laughing along for the entire ride. I can’t wait to see where Burr uncomfortably forces us all to go next.
Bill Burr also hosts the weekly Monday Morning Podcast which acts as a soapbox for all his stray thoughts.