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Comedian Bill Burr on Fatherhood, Anger, and the Hell of Other Parents

Comedian Bill Burr: Fatherhood, Anger, and the Hell of Other Parents 3:02

Comedian Bill Burr is now a father. If you’ve followed his career over the last decade, you'd realize that’s a big deal.

Parenthood is a popular topic in the 21st century comedy boom. Louis C.K. transformed his stand-up persona in the late-aughts by pivoting from absurdist observations to fatherhood stresses. Dave Chappelle. Tom Papa. Patton Oswalt. Ali Wong. Kevin Hart. All have produced killer material out of having kids. Now, many fans are waiting for Burr to do the same.

Over 20 years, Burr developed from a little-known road comic to a national headliner. Today he’s one of the most respected and celebrated comedians of his generation. A self-described “pasty redhead,” his material draws from a reservoir of inner anger. He also plays a rage-filled dad on “F is For Family,” a Netflix show he co-created, now streaming its second season.

Burr’s jokes lash out at modern life’s frustrating injustices, like self-checkout machines and the unhelpful politeness of customer service representatives. But, more revealingly, his most compelling work is self-critical, like an elaborate routine from his 2012 special, “You People Are All the Same,” where he dramatized an escalating fight between he and his girlfriend (and now wife) over assembling IKEA furniture.

Image: Bill Burr
Don't expect the combative Bill Burr to mine parenthood for one-liners. Joseph Llanes

“I hate that aspect of myself. I always take the bait,” he said in an interview with NBC News. “I got in a stupid argument with a guy until four in the morning last night. This guy literally said, ‘Dude, I don’t like The Beatles because it doesn’t make me want to get on the elliptical. It doesn’t amp me up.’ And I’m like, that’s how you judge music? ‘Yeah dude, I don’t like Mozart because it doesn’t make me want to put on leg warmers.’”

So, while he’s happy to mine his anger for laughs, he’s less inclined to do the same with his baby daughter. The reason? Fatherhood has been great so far, and he wants to keep it private.

“I have friends in this business who put pictures of their kids on Facebook. That’s not something I would do,” he said. “But people who are happy I had a kid and want to hear me talk about it...I gotta say, I’m not getting a lot of material out of it because it’s been awesome.”

For Burr, what’s funny about fatherhood is dealing with other parents.

“Most of the time it’s a nightmare. They start predicting what’s going to happen to your kid because it happened to their kid. The whole time I’m just sitting there going, ‘You’re not wearing a medical coat. There’s no degree behind you.’ They drive me up the wall.”