November 14, 2013

Despite TV roles, Bill Burr looks forward to doing stand-up

When a stand-up comic reaches a certain level, the option of television work often pops up.

When a stand-up comic reaches a certain level, the option of television work often pops up.

Bill Burr has been working quite a bit on the side on Hollywood soundstages.

Burr, 44, who impressed on the late, lamented “Chapelle’s Show” during the middle of the last decade, is supplementing his stand-up income with television acting gigs.

After appearing in the critically acclaimed AMC series “Breaking Bad” last year, Burr scored a role in the Zooey Deschanel vehicle “The New Girl.”

“I always thought that comics had a grueling life,” Burr said while calling from his Los Angeles home. “I thought that once you land a TV show, you’re living the life, but these people work 12-hour days for seven months to complete a season. I enjoy television acting but I always look forward to doing stand-up.”

Expect Burr, who will perform Sunday at the Orpheum Theatre, to riff on robots raising children and sociopaths. During a recent set, he cracked wise about Lance Armstrong’s chat with Oprah Winfrey.

“It was compelling watching him admit that he took steroids,” Burr said. “You say it once on Oprah’s show with that massive audience, you don’t have to say it again.”

Even though he hasn’t lived in his native Boston in nearly 20 years, his hometown helped shape Burr’s voice as a humorist. “I wouldn’t be who I am without the city of Boston,” Burr said. “It’s the city and the people I came up with.”

Burr cut his comic teeth during the early ’90s with then fledgling comics such as Dane Cook, the late Patrice O’Neal and Robert Kelly.

“That was an amazing graduating class,” Burr said. “It was an incredible group of comics who learned so much from the Boston veterans like Lenny Clarke and Frank Santorelli.”

There are few contemporary comics as fearless as Burr. When he was booed six years ago while performing in suburban Philadelphia, the scrappy humorist battled back and somehow won over the crowd after slamming every Philadelphia pro sports team. The audience begrudgingly gave Burr a standing ovation after he free-styled for 10 minutes.

“You have to stick to your guns,” Burr said. “The audience respects that. You can’t worry about offending people.”

That goes for Bostonians as well. There is one thing that Burr would love to see junked at Fenway Park.

“Can you please tell everyone to stop singing ‘Sweet Caroline’ at Red Sox games?” Burr said. “That’s a terrible song. The song is about Caroline Kennedy when she was 8 years old. It has the most creepy lyrics I’ve ever heard. ‘Touching Me/Touching You.’ Creepy. The morons have to stop singing his (Neil Diamond’s) song.”

Perhaps the uncompromising Burr would have more television opportunities if his comments were less inflammatory.

“Maybe, maybe not,” Burr said. “I’ve been doing all right when it comes to television but I’m not going to change who I am as a stand-up because of a possible TV job. I’m a stand-up. I’ve been that ever since those early days in Boston.”

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