Bill Burr talks Twitter, writing jokes and making money as a comedian

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comApril 10, 2013 

  • IF YOU GO

    WHAT: Bill Burr

    WHEN: 6 p.m. April 11

    WHERE: Charleston Music Hall, 37 John St., Charleston

    COST: $29.50

    DETAILS: www.charlestonmusichall.com/events

Having worked in show business for more than 15 years, standup comedian Bill Burr knows the importance of working with people you trust.

That's probably why he's so happy to finally be in business with himself.

Like fellow comics Louis C.K., Aziz Ansari and Jim Gaffigan, Burr opted to self-release his latest hour-long special, "You People Are All The Same" last year, offering it for download on his website and selling DVDs of the set, which was recorded in Washington, D.C., in March 2012, himself.

"This is my third hour-long special, and I've made more money on this one than I have on the previous two combined because there's no middle man," said Burr, 44. "The way these deals usually work when you do a special is the producers say, 'OK, this is the split,' and all the money goes to them, and they tell you what you're going to make. There's no way you could take money from them, but they could absolutely rob you blind.

"I heard a quote once in a documentary about a band that said you're better off owning everything 100 percent and selling 20,000 copies of an album than signing with a record company and selling a million copies. There has never been a truer statement about show business than that."

The Boston-born comic, who has appeared on the "Late Show with David Letterman," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," and several other talk shows, will perform April 11 at the Charleston Music Hall.

Burr, who also appeared in several episodes of "Chappelle's Show" and had a recurring role on AMC's critically acclaimed series, "Breaking Bad," talks about podcasts, acting and Twitter.

Question. You started recording your weekly podcast, "The Monday Morning Podcast," in May 2007. Since then, scores of other comedy podcasts have hit the Internet. Why do you think comedians have taken to this medium?

Answer. People just like to laugh, and podcasts are really just radio shows, and they get to listen to comedians hang out with each other and talk about what they do. I really wish that, when I was younger, I could have listened to Sam Kinison and Jerry Seinfeld talking to each other about comedy and life and things like that. As a fan, I would loved that.

Q. "You People Are All The Same" is your third hour-long special. How long does it take you to come up with an hour?

A. To get an hour that I'm ready to tape, it'll take me two years if you don't repeat any jokes. For me, once I've taped an hour, it's like the hourglass is tipped over. The Comedy Store in Los Angeles is my home club, and that's where I start to put a new hour together. I'll start writing new material, get 10 to 15 new minutes together, and when I go out on the road, I'll do the hour that I just taped minus the new 15 minutes. Next time, I go out it'll be, I'll only do 40 minutes of the taped stuff, then it'll be 50/50 until finally, you're doing all new material.

Q. Who are some of your favorite comics working today?

A. If we're talking about established comedians, I really like guys like Louis C.K. and Dave Attell ... but if we're talking up-and-comers, I really like Todd Rexx and Chelsea Peretti ... I get really inspired by new people.

Q. You had a recurring role on "Breaking Bad," and you will appear in "The Heat" this summer alongside Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock. Would you like to do more acting?

A. Absolutely. It's a lot of fun, but I'm definitely a standup comic, first and foremost. The other stuff is just gravy.

Q. Comedians, including yourself, seemed to have really embraced Twitter. What do you think Twitter has done for comedy?

A. I think Twitter is really great for those comics that are good with the one-liners. The thing about the Internet is that there are so many different things you can do, as a comic, to get yourself out there. It could be YouTube, it could be Twitter, it could be blogging. On the Internet, it's like I have my own little store. I have a bunch of YouTube videos up, and it's like, 'Check out these videos and if you like what I do, come check me out and if not ... no harm, no foul.'"

Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at http://www.twitter.com/IPBG_Patrick.

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